Guards hold noon-hour protest over prison safety

Number of inmates, attacks on officers, increasing says union

Correctional officers stood in the heavy snow halfway up the mountain in Maple Ridge Friday, in front of Fraser Regional Correctional Centre, calling for better working conditions.

The number of inmates and the type of inmates crammed into B.C. jails, is threatening the safety of guards, said Dean Purdy with the B.C. Government Employees Union.

He said the inmate-to-staff ratio is now as high as 72:1. He said in a release Friday that before 2001, that ratio was capped at 20:1.

“Unless changes are made, B.C.’s correctional officers will continue to be put at high risk.”

Recently, a prison guard had his finger cut off while another had his head stomped on by inmates while he was unconscious. A female officer had feces thrown in her face. The number of attacks on officers is skyrocketing, he added.

“We could easily have had a death on the job,” Purdy said. The union is meeting with the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General soon to discuss the issue.

Maple Ridge resident Verity Howarth said she has friends who work in the Maple Ridge prison and worries about their safety. “When you look at the staffing ratios, it’s same thing I see in health and education.”

“But these guys, when they go in there with these ratios, they’re in danger. If something happens and they don’t even have support lose their jobs, I think that’s very dangerous.”

Two officers recently have been disciplined for use of force in an altercation with an inmate but the process is being grieved by the union.

An auditor’s general report in 2015 said that Fraser Regional racked up the highest number of safety and security incidents, nearly 1,200 year, by 2012. That’s about 50 per cent more than the next-most violent prisons in the B.C. Corrections system in Nanaimo and Prince George.

That also represented a 33-per-cent increase at Fraser Regional over the previous year.

Purdy added that Fraser Regional was built with a capacity for about 300 inmates but now has more than 500.

Just Posted

Chilliwack prolific offender charged in four alleged incidents in 12 days

Branden Tanner busted for alleged smash-and-grab Nov. 30, then incidents Dec. 3, Dec. 8 and Dec. 11

Four companies vying to open cannabis stores in locations across Chilliwack

Rezoning applications for non-medical cannabis outlets pending, and some will require variances

Christmas cheer, crafts and music at Chilliwack and Yarrow libraries

Make festive ornaments out of old books while enjoying Christmas music at Chilliwack libraries

Sardis Falcons top Heritage Woods in field lacrosse opener

The Falcons rallied from a halftime hole to take a big win on the road in Port Moody.

Fleeing driver picks fight with Chilliwack police dog, loses

Good dog ‘Griff’ also locates large quantity of what police believe to be crystal meth in Abbotsford

VIDEO: Royals reveal the images on their Christmas cards

Prince William and his wife Kate are shown outside in casual clothes, their three young children in tow

Media, robotics, Indigenous studies coming to B.C. Grade 12 classrooms in 2019-20

Provincial tests are also being changed for students in Grade 10 to 12, the Education Ministry said

ICBC to apply for 6.3% hike to basic insurance rates

Crown Corporation said it will be submitting its next basic rate application to the British Columbia Utilities Commission Friday

Stranded B.C. trucker writes final wishes before being rescued 3 days later

‘I was just praying someone would come along’

Canfor Corp. extending temporary curtailment of sawmills in B.C.; cutting hours

Vancouver-based company says the decision is due to declining lumber prices, high log costs and log supply constraints

Canada’s prospective world junior team members await final roster decisions

Thirty-four players were invited to the national junior selection camp

MAP: Christmas light displays in the Lower Mainland

Send us pictures of your National Lampoon-style lit-up homes, nativity scenes or North Pole playlands

Family searching for B.C. professor last seen at Colombian salsa club

Ramazan Gencay, a professor in economics at Simon Fraser University, was last seen in Medellin

Rash of bomb threats a learning opportunity for response capacity, Goodale

Thursday’s wave of bomb threats swept across communities on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border

Most Read