Four inmates at the Okanagan Correctional Centre have been granted early release due to COVID-19. (Phil McLachlan - Western News)

4 inmates at Okanagan Correctional Centre granted early release due to COVID-19

The move, which impacts offenders serving intermittent sentences, is to prevent spread of virus

The B.C. government has allowed the early-release of nearly 100 inmates from its provincial jails in its latest steps to preventing the outbreak of COVID-19 within its facilities.

BC Corrections has released 95 inmates from nine jails since March 1, according to the B.C. Ministry of Public Safety.

A majority of those who were released have been serving intermittent sentences for their offences, such as on weekends only. As of April 2, there were 1,805 people being housed in B.C. jails. Of those locked up, 617 were serving their sentences while 1,138 were awaiting court hearings. A further 50 were being held due to immigration matters, under jurisdiction of the Canadian Border Services Agency.

In order to be released early, BC Corrections considered the offender’s criminal history, offence type, length of sentence and overall risk to public safety, the ministry said.

Broken down across the nine jails, 20 inmates were released from the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Port Coquitlam, 13 from the Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre, 12 inmates from the Nanaimo Correctional Centre and 31 from the Surrey Pretrial Service Centre.

READ MORE: Should non-violent offenders be released from prison to avoid COVID-19 spread?

Five inmates were also released from the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women while four were released from the Fraser Regional Correctional Centre, both located in Maple Ridge. Four inmates were each released from the regional correctional centres in Prince George and near Victoria.

Another four offenders were released early from the high-security Okanagan Correctional Centre in Oliver – the first prison in B.C. to have a confirmed outbreak after an inmate tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

No one was released early from the Ford Mountain Correctional Centre in Chilliwack.

The move by BC Corrections comes as advocacy groups across the country, including the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, continue to call for non-violent offenders to be released from federal, territorial and provincial facilities as a preventative measure to combat COVID-19 outbreaks.

READ MORE: Inmates at prison housing Robert Pickton test positive for COVID-19

Last week, federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair asked the federal prison service and the parole board to look at early releases for some offenders – a decision that must be made by the Parole Board.

Justin Piche, an associate professor in criminology at the University of Ottawa, has been tracking nationwide early-release stats, based on data provided by the government and reporting by the media. According to his count, 2,947 prisoners across Canada have been diverted or released from custody for reasons related to COVID-19 prevention measured.

Mission Institute, a federal prison in Abbotsford, has confirmed that24 inmates have tested positive for the virus – marking the highest number of cases in any Canadian penitentiary. The facility is currently under lockdown.

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.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

ChargerQuest expands its EV charging network into Kelowna

The new stations can be found at Manteo Beach Resort and the Eldorado Hotel

Kelowna resident warns North Glenmore community of active thieves in the area

Two thieves stole a pontoon boat from a residence on May 23

Summerland once had Old English theme

Design guidelines were introduced in late 1980s

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Penticton Search and Rescue airlifts injured mountain biker near Naramata

The Penticton Fire Department initially took the call and attended to the injured biker.

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Vancouver Foundation grants benefit Okanagan-Shuswap residents

Grants of up to $500 available for ideas that connect people socially or involve sharing skills

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Water quality advisory rescinded for Central Okanagan system

Turbidity levels improve enough to rescind advisory issued for Killiney Beach system May 11

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

UPDATE: Two sent to hospital following Okanagan highway accident

Drivers in head-on collision air-lifted to hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries

Most Read