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

Recent polls show the Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke riding a ‘toss-up’

Recent polls show the Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke riding a ‘toss-up’ If any proof were… Continue reading

Reynolds Secondary principal pens letter to parents after student involved in fatal crash

Various supports available to students, staff and community

Oak Bay United preparing entirely new development application

Three scenarios being considered for Granite Street redesign

Latin American film fest celebrates 10 years of storytelling on screen

Festival runs Sept. 17-22, features works from Mexico, Paraguay, Argentina, Peru and Spain

Sidney’s Star Cinema puts on the ritz for Downton Abbey

Special screening of the aristocractic period piece marks theatre’s 21st anniversary

VIDEO: Drone footage documents work to free salmon at Big Bar landslide

Video shows crews working to remove rocks and wood, and transporting salmon by helicopter

Rick Mercer calls out Conservative candidate in B.C. for fake meme

‘Not true. All fake. Please Stop,’ tweeted Rick Mercer in response

Bear killed in Kimberley after chasing girl, wreaking havoc on town

This particular brown-coloured bear has been the subject of many calls this summer; very food habituated, CO says

Vancouver Island man bikes through B.C. Interior for mental health, addiction awareness

Vancouver Island Resident Mat Fee is approaching the final phase of his cross-Canada bike journey to raise awareness about addiction recovery.

Transition Sooke eyes action on climate change

On Sept. 29, Transition Sooke will host a workshop titled: Climate Emergency: What Can We Do?

Boy overdosed on illicit anti-anxiety drug found on Kelowna classroom floor, RCMP say

Noah Mills, 8, ingested a pink powdery substance off his Kelowna classroom floor

BC SPCA investigating after three dogs found shot dead in Prince George ditch

The three adult dogs appeared to be well cared for before being found with gunshot wounds, BC SPCA says

Psychiatric assessment ordered for man accused in Salmon Arm church shooting

Lawyer tells court accused was diagnosed with psychosis hours after his arrest

Surrey mom allegedly paid $400,000 for son in U.S. college bribery scam

Xiaoning Sui, 48, was arrested in Spain on Monday night

Most Read