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

Fraser Valley fire departments form ‘strike teams’ to combat wildfires

Boston Bar, Chilliwack River Valley and Popkum departments form strike teams to fight wildfires

RCMP nab prolific car thief in Agassiz after month-long search

A province-wide warrant was issued for Brian Robert Stephan in June for a litany of offences

Traffic snarls at Agassiz/Harrison bridge after biker falls on road

A road bicyclist fell from his bike while crossing the bridge and needed medical attention

Complaint about cattle prods at Chilliwack rodeo

Fair reps investigate after Vancouver Humane Society pics show shocking device at bullriding event

Inquest scheduled into woman’s death while in Chilliwack police custody

BC Coroners Service has scheduled a public inquest into the death of Charlene Teresa Sakamoto

PHOTOS: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

The rest of the province also dealing with thick haze as smoky skies continue

VIDEO: World of Magic coming to Vancouver

Seven magic shows will appear at the Vancouver Playhouse from September 7 to 9

Safeway union urges prejection of mediator recommendations

Says mediator asks for too many concessions

Fire chases B.C. crews out of their own camp

Crews in Burns Lake had to leave after a wildfire reportedly overtook their sleeping quarters

To address peacock problem, B.C. city moves ahead on trapping plan

Surrey’s new bylaw focuses on ensuring people no longer feed the birds, ahead of relocation

VIDEO: RibFest kicks off in Langley

Free event features barbecue ribs, chicken, pork and brisket from Canada’s top rib artists

Hospitals to see ‘delays’ in care after losing Saudi students, health group says

About 1,000 Saudi residents called back to kingdom after suspending diplomatic relations with Canada

Bernier diatribe against ‘extreme multiculturalism’ boosts Liberal coffers

Party spokesperson Braeden Caley says online donations doubled, social media engagement quadrupled

‘Disjointed’ system hinders British Columbia First Nations in wildfire fight

More than 550 wildfires were burning in B.C. and crews were bracing for wind and dry lightning

Most Read