Nanaimo Correctional Centre (Black Press Media files)

Nanaimo Correctional Centre (Black Press Media files)

B.C. jails grant early release for close to 100 inmates 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

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Nuxalk Public Health Nurse Sophie Mack is all smiles as she vaccinates her dad, hereditary chief James Mack Sr., with his first dose of the Moderna vaccine (photo submitted)
Cases drop as vaccine continues to roll out in Bella Coola

Seniors at Mountain View Lodge, Nuxalk elders, hospital staff and long-term care residents have all started to receive their vaccines so far

Interior Health has declared the Cariboo Chilcotin a community cluster. (Angie Mindus photo)
Interior Health declares Cariboo Chilcotin region a COVID-19 cluster, 215 cases since Jan. 1

Most cases are related to transmission at social events and gatherings in Williams Lake

A vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is displayed on Jan. 5, in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Rick Bowmer/AP)
Power outage spoils COVID-19 vaccine at Tl’etinqox

Temperature-sensitive vaccine no longer viable after Jan. 18 event

Nuxalk elder Caroline Mack, 85, receives her first dose of the Moderna vaccine on Jan. 19, at the Nuxalk Hall. (Caitlin Thompson photo)
First vaccines roll out for Nuxalk elders, hospital staff and long-term care residents

The Moderna vaccine arrived in Bella Coola on Sunday, Jan. 17

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Kimberly Proctor, 18, was murdered in 2010. Her family has spent many of the years since pushing for a law in her honour, that they say would help to prevent similar tragedies. (Courtesy of Jo-Anne Landolt)
Proposed law honouring murdered B.C. teen at a standstill, lacks government support

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has concerns with involuntary detainment portion of act

Most Read