The Winnipeg police union is up in arms over inmates at Headingley Correctional Centre in Manitoba having access to Grand Theft Auto IV… in 2008. The union calls the situation "absolutely disgusting" and says that prisoners were treated to a game that glorifies violence, crime and cop-killing.
Grand Theft Auto IV was one of many video games available to inmates at the Headingley Correctional Centre. The games were purchased by staff members who had the power to buy whatever games they wanted. Greg Skelly, Superintendent at the Headingley Correctional Centre, says that once the game was discovered by his office, it was quickly pulled.
"In 2008, that particular game was discovered here and it was pulled that very day," Greg Skelly, the facility's superintendent, said in an interview Friday with the Toronto Sun. "Our staff would have made an error in purchasing it. Our inmates obviously aren't going to the store and buying these games."
Skelly did not have specifics about how long the game was available, but added "I don't think it was very long."
Winnipeg Police Association president Mike Sutherland said that he was happy to hear that the game was quickly removed, but wondered why it was purchased in the first place.
"I'm alarmed that it happened in the first place… Certainly it's a mistake, but I look at it from a common-sense perspective, and it doesn't make any sense," he said. The local head of a taxpayer watchdog group agrees, and offers some sassy comments on the matter.
"It's pretty shocking. You'd think the name Grand Theft Auto sums it up pretty well," said Colin Craig, Prairie director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. "It's pretty disappointing that this would be in a provincial jail, a game featuring shooting police and innocent people."
Craig recently blasted the Headingley jail after an ex-guard leaked details about the perks that inmates enjoy at the jail which includes video games and big-screen TVs.
"I don't think anyone minds if inmates have a deck of playing cards or magazines after a hard day of cleaning up a park — not high-end video games," he said.
Skelly said the institution has changed its policies on purchasing video games. The facility no longer purchases "Mature" rated games. Now everything must be rated "E" or "Teen." Most of the games they have purchased since that incident in 2008 are sports-themed, he added.