Re: your Oct. 8 We Say, Jail Crowding Overlooked.
Providing a safe and secure environment for our correctional officers and inmates is an ongoing priority. That's why we've not only committed to implementing WorkSafeBC's recommendations regarding Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre (KRCC), but B.C. Corrections also continues to take action to address concerns about overcrowding.
There is positive news. B.C.'s crime rate is at a 40-year low, and as offences decrease, so do the number of people incarcerated. Specifically, the average inmate count at KRCC has decreased by 56 over the past three years – from 357 in 2010 to 301 in 2013, to date.
You are right to tout the Okanagan Correctional Centre (OCC) as one part of the solution — but it is not the only part. The first phase of our capital expansion plan – the largest capital investment in B.C. Corrections' history, totalling $185 million – will have created 340 new cells at Prince George Regional Correctional Centre, Alouette Correctional Centre for Women and Surrey Pretrial Services Centre since 2010.
The OCC project, which will more than double corrections capacity in B.C.'s Interior with its 378 cells, is the second phase of our capital expansion plan, and it remains on time and on budget.
Beyond these investments, B.C. Corrections plans to hire an additional 200 officers when Phase 1 of our capital expansion is complete, and 240 new officers for the OCC to provide even further supports to staff.
We are also taking a close look at front-line operations, with an eye to advancing safety. Laurie Throness, parliamentary secretary for corrections, has already begun his consultations and is touring B.C.'s correctional centres. His recommendations will help us further enhance our safety strategies for protecting staff, inmates and local communities.
There are inherent risks in working with offenders; the inmate population has a
variety of needs, including mental health and addiction challenges.
I have full confidence in the staff at KRCC, and at all of B.C.'s correctional centres. Their dedication to their jobs and their interest in the well-being of inmates around B.C. is demonstrated daily and we can all be appreciative of the contribution they make.
Attorney General and Minister of Justice