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

Group rescued unharmed after attempting to tube Lakelse River

Terrace Search and Rescue brought in helicopter to conduct search

Police investigate July 2 homicide in Houston

Man succumbed to injuries at Pearson Road residence

Terrace couple awarded by Governor General for volunteer work

Ron and Mavis Ramsey recognized for founding society that covers medical expenses

Skeena Sawmills in Terrace inks fibre deals with Kitselas Forestry and Kalum Ventures

Sawmill set to purchase around 45,000 cubic metres of fibre per year

Skeena Sawmills in Terrace reach labour agreement with local United Steelworkers union

The four and a half year long deal was ratified on May 19, 2020 and is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2020

B.C. accommodators need phone lines to light up as in-province travel given green light

Travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic have decimated the tourism and hospitality industries

Man charged in Rideau Hall crash had rifle, shotguns, high-capacity magazine: RCMP

Hurren is accused of threatening to cause death or bodily harm to the prime minister

B.C. extends income assistance exemption for COVID-19

Provincial program to match Ottawa’s CERB, student pay

Broadway veteran Nick Cordero dies from coronavirus complications

During Cordero’s hospitalization, Kloots sent him daily videos of her and their 1-year-old son, Elvis,

Northern communities welcome tourists as province opens to in-B.C. travellers

Officials have asked British Columbians to be careful as they travel this summer

300 Cache Creek residents on evacuation alert due to flood risk as river rises

Heavy rainfall on Canada Day has river rising steadily, threatening 175 properties

First glimpse of Canada’s true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified

Most Read