VIDEO: Correctional officers protest unsafe work conditions at Saanich jail

Friday morning protest spurred by violence toward officers

Dozens of correctional officers rallied outside Wilkinson Road jail Friday morning to protest unsafe work conditions including high levels of violence.

Some officers came on their day off while others were able to join the rally during the 10 a.m. inmate lockup that serves as their break. The Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre at 4216 Wilkinson Rd. is the only maximum security centre on the Island.

Dean Purdy, the longtime BCGEU vice president of Corrections and Sheriff Services, and also a officer at Wilkinson Road, held court to bring attention to the unsafe conditions and lack of support the officers are experiencing.

“We’ve had unsafe situations for correctional officers, I’d put it up there as one of the most stressful and difficult occupations,” Purdy said. “A lot of people don’t know what goes on behind those walls”

RELATED: Overcrowding, targeted violence spur protest at Saanich jail

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

He also said that “staff are exposed to everything from hangings to slashings, really bad beatings, overdoses, some of the officers have feces and urine thrown on them as a form of intimidation.”

There are about 200 correctional officers at Wilkinson and about 300 inmates, he said. Hiring additional staff isn’t the only solution.

What’s happening, Purdy said, is that ongoing violence has escalated at all seven maximum security jails in the province and not only are more correctional officers needed, but also a change in the way certain inmates are managed.

“In 2002 the officer to inmate ratio was 1 to 20 and now it’s as high as 1 to 40 in this Saanich jail and 1 to 72 in other B.C. jails,” Purdy said. “About 95 per cent of the violence is done by three per cent of the [inmate] population, the corrections branch needs to change direction and better manage how it handles the populations [within the living units].”

There needs to be more support beyond the inherent risk that officers assume working inside a maximum security jail, he added.

“Want to see more support for officers who use force to manage inmates, we’re seeing that support fall off. When they can do their job effectively it makes for a safer environment for inmates and officers.”

reporter@saanichnews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Victoria Police seize drugs, replica firearms and $50,000 in cash after searching Victoria home

A property in the 600-block of Manchester Avenue is focus of investigation

Saanich resident leads crusade against cigarettes in B.C. drugstores

Province allows drugstores to sell cigarettes and some feel policy should change, retailers disagree

Federal government funds 60 ‘micro-loft’ rental units set to open on Fort Street

The Sawyer Block at 840 Fort St. will house affordable units and a small amount of retail space

VICTORIA FRINGE FEST: There’s always something new to discover on stage

33rd annual live theatre festival has numerous styles and topics to choose from

Langford veteran rehab program takes multi-tiered approach to treating pain

Clinic ‘bio-psycho-social approach to healing’ from Victoria to the West Shore earlier this year

Clean the house, prep for your next trip: Tips to nix the post-vacation blues

48 per cent of travellers are already stressed about ‘normal life’ while still on their trip

Vancouver Island senior found safe with help from six search and rescue teams

Wayne Strilesky found safe in thick brush in north Nanaimo

More women may need breast cancer gene test, U.S. guidelines say

Recommendations aimed at women who’ve been treated for BRCA-related cancers and are now cancer-free

Couple could go to jail for taking 88 lbs. of Italian sand

Pair said they didn’t know it was illegal to take the sand, which is protected as a public good

Bodies of two missing Surrey men found near Ashcroft: RCMP

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

Margaret Atwood talks Handmaid’s Tale sequel at UVic

Sold-out Sept. 27 event illustrates iconic Canadian author’s popularity in literary haven of Victoria

Hearings begin as Vancouver Island mom fights for allegedly abducted daughter

Tasha Brown now in Jersey in the British Isles, fundraiser being held in Nanaimo

Most Read