Temporary building in foreground at Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre was put in place to add living space. Two similar structures are in use at Fraser Regional Correctional Centre in Maple Ridge.

B.C. prison crowding probed by auditor

Security incidents on rise in provincial jails, inmates double-bunked and few completing education programs

B.C. provincial prisons remain overcrowded despite a decline in custodial sentences in recent years, and “safety and security incidents” have increased substantially, a report from B.C.’s Auditor General has found.

About half of cells designed for one inmate are double-bunked in the B.C. system, and Auditor General Carol Bellringer concludes that is a contributing factor in maintaining safety in B.C.’s nine facilities for adult inmates. Another factor in crowding is that about half of the roughly 2,500 inmates in the B.C. system on an average day are awaiting trial or sentencing.

Safety and security incident reports have been on the rise in most facilities in recent years, with the highest rate of nearly 1,200 a year at Fraser Regional Correctional Centre in Maple Ridge. Nanaimo and Prince George both recorded nearly 800 incidents a year by 2012, with lower rates at Vancouver Island, Surrey Pretrial, North Fraser Pretrial and Kamloops.

The auditor’s report says one reason for the increase is that incidents are being reported and tracked on a more systematic basis. Bellringer also notes that there isn’t a clear definition of what constitutes a safety and security incident, and B.C. Corrections doesn’t have a target of what constitutes an acceptable level.

Justice Minister Suzanne Anton said conditions in B.C. prisons are improving thanks to a $185 million construction program, including an addition to Surrey Pretrial, a new women’s wing at Prince George and expansion of Alouette Correctional Centre for Women.

A new 300-cell Okanagan adult custody facility at Oliver is under construction, and expected to open in 2016. Anton said that extra space will alleviate the space shortage at other facilities, but it remains to be seen if the new prison will allow the removal of tent-like temporary structures that have housed low-risk inmates at Kamloops and Fraser in recent years.

The audit also questioned the availability and effectiveness of rehabilitation programs offered in B.C. prisons. The audit found that only one program, violence prevention, was evaluated and shown to reduce the likelihood of reoffending.

The five core programs operated in B.C. provincial prisons are:

• Respectful relationships, to help inmates understand and eliminate abusive behaviours

• Substance abuse management, to reduce relapse and develop healthier lifestyles

• Violence prevention, designed to reduce aggressive behaviour

• Emotional management for women

• Relationship skills for women

Correctional centres also offer life skills, vocational, literacy and school extension programs. All programs are voluntary, and with an average sentenced stay of 71 days, some inmates aren’t in custody long enough to complete studies even if they want to.

 

Just Posted

Walk to end abuse for those who can’t

SOWINS’s Debbie Scarborough points to the lethal potential in intimate partner abuse

Evacuation orders lifted around Osoyoos Lake

An evacuation order lifted for 15 properties around lake

Flooding complicates summer fun, health authority warns

Avoid fast-flowing water such as creeks and rivers.

Record Okanagan cherry crop anticipated

BC Tree Fruit growers expecting crop of 12 million pounds due to ideal conditions

Oliver Woofstock to raise money for guide dogs

Visit Oliver Lions Park this Sunday for the Woofstock Pet Valu Walk for Guide Dogs

What’s happening

Find out what is happening around the valley this sunshine-filled May weekend

Unusually nasty odour repulses Chase residents

Village staff trying to get bacteria working in lagoons at sewage treatment plant

B.C. RCMP swoop in to save injured eagle

An eagle with a broken wing now in a recovery facility after RCMP rescue near Bella Coola

Run for beer along Penticton’s Ale Trail

The second annual Penticton Beer Run takes place on June 2

Bug spray 101: Health Canada wants you to stay bite free

Health Canada is reminding Canadians to use bug spray and other insect repellents safely

Unions reject CP Rail contract offers

Both meeting Friday to determine next steps; 72 hours notice required before strike action.

B.C. jewellers warn public about fake gold scam

‘They are playing on people’s sympathy and their greed’

Former B.C. premier says pot industry about to enter Wild West

Mike Harcourt says Canada is about to enter a new gold rush with many dreaming of striking it rich

Hunt continues for two suspects in Ontario restaurant explosion

The explosion left 15 people injured, but all victims have now been released from hospital

Most Read