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An Ontario social services ministry decision to shut down “open detention” and “open custody” facilities will risk creating more hardened criminals, Cindy Lee says.

The secretary-treasurer of CUPE 4369, representing workers at the facilities, says the facilities are designed to let certain young offenders serve their sentences while getting counseling with their families and going to school or work.

Open detention facilities house young offenders who are awaiting trial.

“Judges are now faced with either letting young offenders go free or putting them in maximum security prisons,” Lee said. “Many more young criminals will be on the street with no supervision while others will be getting their only counseling from hard-core convicts.”

The government recently shut down two Toronto facilities, Art Eggleton House and King Clancy House.

CUPE 4369 vice president Rob Britton says the province is getting rid of the only facilities that can reintegrate and rehabilitate young offenders.

“Even though these young men are in custody, we are able to work with them and their families to help many of them find their place in society. Now we will see them go directly from secure detention straight to the street with no help at all,” he said.