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

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

Meet the Greater Victoria athletes in Red Deer for the 2019 Canada Winter Games

Players express gratitude and excitement about representing Team BC

One arrested, weapons and drugs seized in Sooke bust

During the Feb. 6 raid, police found firearms, ammunition, drugs, and brass knuckles

Victoria hotel trashes Channing Tatum in favour of B.C.’s Ryan Reynolds

Tatum’s picture left in recycling bin, replaced with photo of Ryan Reynolds

Mount Doug thaw reveals abandoned Subaru, dog poo

Gate left unlocked in snow storm invites daredevil drivers

‘Our entire municipality is heartbroken’: Seven children die in Halifax house fire

A man and woman remained in hospital Tuesday afternoon, the man with life-threatening injuries

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of Feb. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

B.C. BUDGET: Income assistance raise still leaves many below poverty line

$50 per month increase included in funding for poverty and homelessness reduction

B.C. BUDGET: Indigenous communities promised billions from gambling

Extended family caregiver pay up 75 per cent to keep kids with relatives

B.C. BUDGET: New benefit increases family tax credits up to 96 per cent

BC Child Opportunity Benefit part of province’s efforts to reduce child poverty

B.C. BUDGET: Carbon tax boosts low-income credits, electric vehicle subsidies

Homeowners can get up to $14,000 for heating, insulation upgrades

B.C. man survives heart attack thanks to Facebook

A Princeton man suffered a heart attack while at an isolated property with no cell service

B.C. man sues Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party over trademark

Satinder Dhillon filed application for trademark same day Maxime Bernier announced the new party

New trial ordered over banning whales, dolphins at Vancouver aquarium

Park board’s appeal reverses previous decision that found it had no right to implement a ban

Most Read