Offender programs fall short, auditor says

The B.C. government is struggling to deal with a record caseload of nearly 24,000 convicted offenders who aren't in jail.

Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre and other B.C. jails are overcrowded

VICTORIA – The B.C. government is struggling to deal with a record caseload of nearly 24,000 convicted offenders who are in the community, and it needs to do a better job of delivering programs to prevent them from reoffending.

Those are key conclusions of B.C. Auditor General John Doyle’s latest report on the provincial corrections system.

In addition to overcrowding in B.C. jails, nearly nine out of 10 convicted offenders in B.C. are not in custody, but are serving conditional sentences on house arrest or probation with court-imposed conditions.

The auditor found that additional staff have not kept up with the caseload, which increased 28 per cent in the past six years. And only 35 per cent of interventions that are designed to reduce re-offending are ever completed.

B.C. has four core programs. They focus on male offenders of spousal assault, other violent offenders, sex offenders and substance abusers.

Doyle made eight recommendations, related to improved reporting on rates of re-offence and better record-keeping. He recommended a review of staffing levels but didn’t prescribe what if any increase there should be to the current staff of 450 probation officers.

The B.C. public safety ministry accepted all eight recommendations. In its response to the report, the community corrections division noted that probation officers deal with adult offenders, “many of whom are violent and high risk.

“They deliver evidence-based programming such as the Relationship Violence Prevention Program, which has been shown to reduce re-offending by up to 50 per cent.”

NDP public safety critic Kathy Corrigan said it’s encouraging that a domestic violence program can have that much success, since domestic violence is the second-largest source of of offences in B.C. after impaired driving.

But Corrigan noted that Doyle found fewer than half of B.C.’s probation officers have completed the ministry’s domestic violence course.

Doyle surveyed a sample of 58 domestic violence case files, and found three quarters of them contained at least one alleged breach of court-imposed conditions. He said few of the cases were documented well enough to determine if breaches of probation were dealt with in court, but there were several cases where they were not.

The report identified three cases where “the unreported breaches involved victim contact from offenders convicted of domestic violence – and in all three cases, the offender had been assessed as being at either a medium or high risk to re-offend.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chilliwack Mural Festival comes alive in the downtown core

‘Murals offer a safe way for people to enjoy socially distanced artwork,’ says organizer

Chilliwack museum looking for public feedback on exhibits

Online survey will help drive three-year plan for future exhibit possibilities

Mission man who nearly died from COVID-19 at Abbotsford hospital reflects on one-month battle

Robert Billyard was in an induced coma to ensure his body would not fight the ventilator to breathe

Lavender hand sanitizer sale raises cash for Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation

Golf course and lavender farm partner up to support health care in the Fraser Valley

Donations of fresh produce sought from Chilliwack backyard gardeners

Hamper program from Chilliwack Citizens for Change to serve those with special dietary needs

578 British Columbians currently infected with COVID-19

Seventy-eight new cases confirmed in past 24 hours

Conservation seizes fawn illegally kept captive in Vancouver Island home

A Comox Valley resident charged and fined under the Wildlife Act

Pandemic could be driving more parents to get on board with flu shot: study

University of B.C. study gauges willingness for parents to vaccinate children for influenza

Watchdog clears Okanagan RCMP in death of man after arrest over alleged stolen pizzas

The man died in hospital after having difficulty breathing and broken ribs

35,000 doses of fentanyl part of huge Maple Ridge bust

Largest seizure in RCMP detachment’s history included submachine gun, body armour

Have you seen Berleen? B.C. pig destined for sanctuary goes missing

Berleen was less than two weeks from travelling to Manitoba when she vanished

Health Canada says several kids hospitalized after eating edible pot products

People warned not to store cannabis products where children can find them

‘It’s not just about me’: McKenna cites need to protect politicians from threats

Police investigation was launched after someone yelled obscenities at a member of McKenna’s staff

Michigan plans dedicated road lanes for autonomous vehicles

First study of its kind in the U.S. to figure out whether existing lanes or shoulders could be used

Most Read