Correctional officers plan protest in Kamloops

The Oct. 17 rally against prison violence will be held between noon and 1:30 p.m. outside the Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre

Correctional officers will be protesting outside the Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre this Thursday from noon to 1:30 p.m. to bring attention to what their union says is increasing incidents of violence against correctional officers. 

"Prison violence continues to escalate and assaults on correctional officers have skyrocketed. These officers put their lives at risk every day and it's just a matter of time before one of our members gets killed on the job," said Dean Purdy, the BC Government Employees’ Union’s vice-president of corrections and sheriff Services.

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"Inmate overcrowding and double-bunking are serious safety issues that increase the threat to staff safety, but we still haven't seen much movement by management on this issue."

In April, Purdy told KTW the Kamloops prison had recorded an all-time high of 27 assaults by inmates on staff. Those numbers were compiled by the union. At the time, BC Corrections showed only two assaults by inmates against staff at KRCC through the first half of 2018.

Prior to 2001, Purdy said, the inmate-to-staff ratio in B.C. prisons was capped at 20:1. He said that ratio is now as high as 72:1, noting recent statistics from Corrections BC show assaults on officers and inmate-on-inmate violence continues to rise. 

"We are the only jail in Canada that has one officer with up to 72 inmates. It's not good enough," he said. "There is an opportunity now for the new government to bring the staff-to-inmate ratio back to manageable levels. Unless changes are made, B.C.’s correctional officers will continue to be put at high risk."

Previous rallies against prison violence have been held outside other provincial correctional facilities earlier this year.

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