The Okanagan Correctional Centre (Western News file photo)

Protest planned as assaults on Okanagan correctional officers ‘skyrocket’

Officers will rally against prison violence on Sept. 9 in the South Okanagan

Correctional officers will be protesting outside of the Okanagan Correctional Centre in Oliver to bring attention to what they are calling rapidly increasing incidents of violence against officers.

According to the correctional officers union, targeted violence towards officers has been on the increase every year for the past five years and they have a lack of support from the Corrections Branch.

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“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, in a news release. “Inmate over-crowding 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.”

According to the union, prior to 2001, the inmate-to-staff ratio in B.C.’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. “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.”

Officers will rally against prison violence on Sept. 9 from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Okanagan Correctional Centre in Oliver.

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