Violence at an all-time high in B.C. jails: union VP
Dean Purdy, BCGEU vice president of corrections and sheriff services, speaks to media in Surrey on Friday, March 8, 2019. (Steve Saunders / CTV Vancouver)
B.C. corrections officers gathered in numbers Friday to protest outside of the Surrey Pretrial Centre.
Ironically that’s one of the key points of their demonstration - not having the numbers to keep officers safe. Officers say said targeted violence against them has been increasing every year for the past five years.
"The officer-to-inmate ratios, which used to be capped at one-to-20, now have gotten to (one-to-72). When you have 72 inmates in a living unit, it’s not safe anymore," said Dean Purdy.
Purdy is the vice-president of corrections and sheriff services for the British Columbia Government and Service Employees' Union.
"Prison violence continues to escalate and assaults on corrections officers have skyrocketed. These officers put their lives at risk everyday, and it’s just a matter of time before one of our members gets killed on the job," claims Purdy.
"Inmate over-crowding and double-bunking are serious safety issues that increase the threat to staff safety, but we still haven’t seen much movement by management on this issue."
Purdy has worked in the system for 31 years and says that the number one thing he would do is "put two correctional officers inside every living unit in this province."
They have met with Solicitor General and Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth, and are looking at different ideas hoping that the branch will make changes to minimize the risk of danger.