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OCC correctional officers to protest against prison violence

OCC correctional officers to protest against prison violence

Okanagan Correctional Centre (Vanessa Broadbent / Osoyoos Times)

Correctional officers will be protesting outside the Okanagan Correctional Centre on Monday to bring attention to the increasing incidents of violence against them.

Targeted violence towards correctional officers has been on the increase every year for the past five years, according to the BC Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU).

“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, BCGEU vice president (corrections and sheriff services).

“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,” Purdy said.

• Read more: Inmate critical of segregation practices at OCC

Prior to 2001, the inmate-to-staff ratio in BC’s correctional facilities was capped at 20:1. The ratio is now as high as 72:1 and recent statistics from Corrections BC show that 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,” said Purdy.

He stated there is an opportunity for the new government to bring the staff-to-inmate ratio back to manageable levels.

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

According to BC Corrections, there were 94 inmate-on-inmate assaults and eight assaults on jail staff in 2017.

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