Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre is one of B.C.’s prisons for inmates awaiting trial or serving a sentence of less than two years. (Black Press files)

‘Double-bunking’ still a problem for B.C. provincial jails

Staff shortages have caused unit closures at some prisons

The latest audit of B.C.’s prison system finds more inmates sharing living units than the B.C. Corrections set as its target four years ago, with likely effects on safety and rehabilitation.

Inmate crowding is highest at Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre in Saanich, with 66 per cent of inmates “double bunked” as of last summer, B.C. Auditor General Carol Bellringer reported in an update on the situation released Tuesday. When the audit began in 2015, the target was 32 per cent shared living units.

Second highest capacity for male inmates was Fraser Regional Correctional Centre in Maple Ridge, with 56 per cent of inmates in shared units and four units closed due to lack of staff. Kamloops Regional was at 52 per cent, Surrey Pretrial was at 49 per cent, North Fraser Pretrial in Port Coquitlam was at 48 per cent and Prince George Regional was at 36 per cent.

B.C.’s newest provincial prison, Okanagan Correctional Centre near Oliver, was at 22 per cent double-bunking with two units closed, and Ford Mountain in Chilliwack was the only facility for males showing no shared living units.

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Women’s facilities at Alouette River had four units closed but no inmates sharing. Prince George Regional had 17 per cent of women inmates sharing living units.

The audit also reviewed programs for controlling assaults, escape attempts, drug and weapon smuggling and property damage in B.C. prisons.

One of the 2015 audit’s recommendation was to assess the impact of housing sentenced and pre-trial inmates together, to meet a regulation that they should be separated “where circumstances allow.” The latest audit found no progress in that area.


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