VANCOUVER, Aug. 13 /CNW/ - The housing of up to 500 refugee claimants in
Lower Mainland correctional facilities will strain an already
overcrowded provincial jail system, the B.C. Government and Service
Employees' Union said today, in renewing its call for the provincial
government to expand correctional facilities.
"The Fraser Regional Correctional Centre already houses double the
number of inmates it was designed to handle," says Dean Purdy, chair of
the BCGEU's Corrections and Sheriff Services Component. "Adding hundreds
more people to the facility at this time will severely test our ability
to manage a safe facility, and shows once again why we need new
corrections facilities to serve the needs of the justice system."
The Fraser Regional Correctional Centre, which currently houses
approximately 550 inmates, was designed to hold a maximum of 254. Adding
more than 400 additional refugee claimants means the facility will house
almost 1,000 people - nearly 4 times the number that it was designed
for. The women refugees are being sent to the Alouette Correctional
Centre for Women, which also holds double the population it was designed
"Corrections officers are dedicated to public safety and will respond to
the challenge," says Purdy. "But it means our officers will have to work
even longer overtime hours than usual due to recruitment and retention
issues, and presents an increased safety risk for our members and the
Since closing nine correctional facilities in 2002-2005, the B.C.
government has been dealing with significant overcrowding issues in
provincial jails, and has informed the union it has no plans to build
additional new facilities. Double-bunking is becoming the norm, and B.C.
is already in contravention of a UN convention on housing standards for
"As federal and provincial governments move to toughen crime laws, we
can expect more inmates to move through B.C. facilities," says Purdy.
"You can't expect corrections staff to handle an expanding prison
population without jeopardizing public safety. New facilities are
important, to protect the public and our members."
SOURCE B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union
For further information: For further information:
Chris Bradshaw at 604-291-9611 or 604-209-4129