Alberta prison guards must be some awfully smooth talkers.

While Nova Scotia moved yesterday to arm their guards with pepper spray and batons while ruling out TASERs, don’t expect that in Alberta prisons any time soon, if ever, according to the Alberta Solicitor General’s office.

Only a select staff in Alberta’s eight adult population prisons, which hold 2,800 offenders, are allowed to carry even pepper spray — those who are trained in emergency response or who deal with high risk prisoners or are on regular outside escort duty, said Christine Skjrerven of the solicitor general’s office, adding batons and TASERs are out of the question.


“We don’t plan on introducing them, either, we just don’t see a need.”

The rest of Alberta’s guards, while trained in a variety of techniques, are regularly expected to verbally diffuse dangerous situations, and if that fails, they can call in a tactical team who are authorized to dole out blasts of pepper spray until the threat subsides, said Skjrerven, noting pepper spray was used 115 times in 2007-08.

“We don’t carry weapons, and in a way, it’s safer because weapons are more likely to be used against you than in your favour,” said a former Calgary remand centre guard on a condition of anonymity.

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