Nanaimo Correctional Centre (Black Press Media files)

BC Corrections to expand list of eligible offenders for early release during pandemic

Non-violent offenders are being considered for early release through risk assessment process

More than 200 inmates have been granted early releases from B.C. jail cells in recent months in an unprecedented effort by the province to prevent the outbreak of COVID-19 within its 10 facilities.

Since March 1, 207 inmates serving intermittent sentences have been granted early release, according to BC Corrections data obtained by Black Press Media. Intermittent sentences are often served only on weekends.

Thirty-five offenders serving continuous sentences have also been released early.

So far, BC Corrections officials have only been considering offenders serving less than 30 days behind bars – but are looking to expand that list those serving longer sentences, up to two months.

“Having completed its exploration of the feasibility of approving temporary absences for people serving sentences of 30 days or less, BC Corrections is now assessing those serving sentences of 60 days or less,” the public safety ministry said in a statement.

Only non-violent offenders are being considered for early release, a process that involves a risk assessment by corrections officials.

“This assessment and ultimate determination on release considers criminal history, sentence length, offence type, and any other relevant information, including risk to public safety,” the ministry said.

“In turn, these factors also shape the level of community supervision that BC Corrections provides to those individuals on temporary absences.”

As of May 24 there were 1,504 inmates in B.C. prisons, with 30 per cent of those sentenced to two years or less behind bars. The other 70 per cent are either awaiting trial, sentencing, or are being held due to immigration matters under jurisdiction of the Canadian Border Services Agency.

ALSO READ: Should non-violent offenders be released from prison to avoid COVID-19 spread?

There have been two cases of COVID-19 found in B.C. prisons, the first at the Okanagan Correctional Centre in Oliver and the second at North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Port Coquitlam.

Meanwhile, two outbreaks have been declared at federal prisons in B.C., the first at Mission Institution and the second at Mountain Institution. There are 43 federally-run prisons in Canada, eight of those in B.C.

Concerns by staff and the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers have been raised over the lack of personal protective equipment, also referred to as PPE, available to staff while on the job.

– with a file from Tim Petruk, Kamloops This Week


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

North Cariboo Seniors’ Council receives $10,000 from United Way

The funds will help the council provide meals to vulnerable seniors impacted by COVID-19

Regional district issues evacuation order for 9 residences near McBride

The Regional District of Fraser-Fort George issued the order on Sunday, July 4

FOREST INK: Microgrids in developing countries have many positive features

Columnist Jim Hilton writes about his experiences with “off the grid” power systems

Evacuation alert issued for three properties on Garvin Road, southeast of Quesnel

The Cariboo Regional District has issued the alert due to “potential danger to life and health”

VIDEO: Musqueam Chief captures captivating footage of bald eagle catching meal

‘This is why we have chosen to live here since time immemorial,’ Chief Wayne Sparrow’s nephew says

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Most Read