Stats point to rise in B.C. prison violence

NDP lists correctional centre understaffing, overcrowding as likely causes for increase in incidents

Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre.

Safety and security incidents have soared at most B.C.’s prisons over the last few years, according to newly released statistics for 2014 from B.C. Corrections.

The biggest one-year increase was at Surrey Pretrial Centre, where the number of incidents tripled to more than 900 in 2014.

The long-term trend has been steadily up at several other jails.

Safety incidents have nearly doubled by 2014 from five years earlier in Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre, North Fraser Pretrial and Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre.

And Alouette Correctional Centre for Women recorded more than three times as many incidents – nearly 700 by 2014 compared to less than 200 in 2009.

Fraser Regional Correctional Centre in Maple Ridge had nearly 1,100 incidents in 2014 and recorded the largest numbers of any sites in B.C. in each of the six years.

NDP MLA David Eby said the statistics he requested are about a year overdue and undercut government claims prison violence was declining.

“I’m incredibly concerned that we were told that violence was trending down when their own numbers show it’s trending up and dramatically up,” he said.

Eby said a staff shortage in B.C. prisons is a probable factor.

“When prisons are understaffed by guards that means things are less safe for both staff and prisoners,” Eby said.

“You don’t have anybody screaming about rival gang members being put in the same place at the same time. You don’t have anybody just physically present to encourage everybody to be on their best behaviour.”

He also cited the overcrowding of prisons from the practice of double-bunking.

“When you have two or three people in a cell as opposed to a single person in a cell that leads to an increase in violence as well.”

B.C. government officials say the statistics include not just violence but other safety and security incidents, including inmate illness, threats and contraband.

“B.C. Corrections is housing more inmates with gang affiliations and mental health issues,” Public Safety Minister Mike Morris said. “The potential for violence is an unfortunate reality.”

Once the new Okanagan Correctional Centre is completed later this year near Oliver, he said, the B.C. Corrections will have added nearly 800 cells since 2008.

Morris said 440 more corrections staff have been added since 2007 and more than 240 new full-time correctional officers will be added for the Okanagan jail.

There were four deaths in B.C. correctional facilities in 2015 – three at Kamloops and one in Surrey – and a total of 26 deaths since 2009.

Safety and security incidents by correctional centre.

Just Posted

The Paperboys visit Kelowna

Check out the Rotary Centre for the Arts Jan. 27

Let it snow in Kelowna

Snow is in the forecast for this week

Photos: Adventuring in Stuart Park

Have you seen Friday’s edition of the Capital News? Check out the photos featured

Rutland students help less fortunate

At Rutland Senior Secondary, students are helping the homeless this holiday season

Lake Country seniors receive Christmas surprise

Hampers will be given to 20 lucky seniors in need next week

What’s happening

Find out about the events happening in your community this weekend

#MeToo at work: Employers play a role in fixing culture of sexual harassment

B.C. workplaces are getting ahead of being the next MeToo debacle, calling on experts to train staff

B.C. woman brain injured in crash as a baby gets $1.1 million in damages

Trial heard the woman was 16 months old, being carried by her mother when they were both hit

Lind nets three in Rockets win; Dube and Foote named to Canada’s roster

Kole Lind returns from national junior camp to lead Rockets to victory in P.A.

Interior Health holding immunization clinic in Vernon Saturday

IH issues list of Okanagan meningococcal immunization clinics

Court denies WestJet’s bid to toss out discrimination lawsuit of former worker

Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination

VIDEO: 3 months later, rescued sea lion released back into ocean

The young animal was found in Campbell River three months ago

Annual Christmas meal held as Kelowna Gospel Mission

The meal will be held tomorrow from 12 to 6 p.m.

Most Read