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

Just Posted

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

Sven Spichiger, Washington State Department of Agriculture managing entomologist, displays a canister of Asian giant hornets vacuumed from a nest in a tree behind him Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. Scientists in Washington state discovered the first nest earlier in the week of so-called murder hornets in the United States and worked to wipe it out Saturday morning to protect native honeybees. Workers with the state Agriculture Department spent weeks searching, trapping and using dental floss to tie tracking devices to Asian giant hornets, which can deliver painful stings to people and spit venom but are the biggest threat to honeybees that farmers depend on to pollinate crops. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Crews vacuum ‘murder hornets’ out of Washington nest, first-ever in U.S.

The nest found in the city of Blaine near the Canadian border is about the size of a basketball

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Staff members at Surrey Pretrial test positive for COVID-19

Ministry of Public Safety says employees tested positive between Oct. 18 and 23

Delview Thanks4Giving committee members Alexa Liptak (left) and Amanda Quibing stand with the donation box outside the school’s front entrance. (James Smith photo)
Thanks 4 Giving food drive going drive-thru due to COVID-19

Organizers hope North Delta residents will come to them for Delview Secondary’s annual food drive

Upgrades underway at the Sunnyside Reservoir, adjacent to Sunnyside Acres Urban Forest, raised concerns among some residents Tuesday (Oct. 20), however, stewards of the park say everything went off without a hitch. (Tracy Holmes photo)
‘No issue’ with South Surrey reservoir drainage, despite trail user concerns: urban forest steward

Forest visitor taken aback by ‘unprecedented flooding’ of trails

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

BC Hydro map showing where power has been knocked out is dotted with over a dozen outages. (BC Hydro map screenshot)
Thousands without power in Lower Mainland on election day

One outage in Langley and Surrey is affecting over 4,000 customers

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

file
One dead after fiery crash near Agassiz

Agassiz RCMP report a 56-year-old man died Friday night

The possibility of the Canadian Premier League expanding to the Fraser Valley has been floated online. (Facebook photo)
Canadian Premier League possibly eyeing Fraser Valley expansion

Soccer league looking to add ninth team to the mix, B.C. markets potentially rumoured

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Most Read