Correctional officers rally outside of Kamloops prison to raise awareness about workplace violence | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Correctional officers rally outside of Kamloops prison to raise awareness about workplace violence

Correctional officers gathered outside of Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, to raise awareness against violence in the workplace.
October 17, 2019 - 1:37 PM

Correctional officers gathered at the front gates of Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre today to raise awareness about violence inside the workplace.

Approximately 40 workers gathered at the prison this afternoon, Oct. 17, with signs to bring attention to the violence going on inside prisons across the province.

"So far this year, there have been 14 assaults on correctional officers," Dean Purdy, vice president and chair of the corrections and sheriff services with the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union, said to the gathered media.

Dean Purdy, vice president and chair of the corrections and sheriff services with the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union, speaking to media outside of Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019.
Dean Purdy, vice president and chair of the corrections and sheriff services with the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union, speaking to media outside of Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019.

A visual display was set up showing 14 pairs of boots on the ground representing the number of officers that are currently off work after they were injured on the job at the Kamloops prison. In 2018, there were 124 assaults on correctional officers province-wide, which set a new record.

Purdy says assaults range from officers being sucker-punched, hit from behind, having urine and feces dumped over their heads or faces, being spat on, pushed and more.

"Some of the most degrading assaults that you can imagine... can happen inside of our jails," he says.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is also becoming a more common issue among prison staff, Purdy says. 

"They see everything from really bad inmate beatings, hangings, slashings, vicious assaults with edge weapons, shanks, overdoses," he says. "We have a rampant drug problem inside our jails there are a lot of overdoses inside the jails province-wide and within Kamloops."

Prior to 2001, every jail was capped at an officer to inmate ratio at 20:1 but that has since increased. Purdy says they would like to see that ratio go back down in an effort to decrease overcrowding and violence.

There are approximately 200 correctional officers who work at Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre.

Workers could be seen with signs outside of Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, to raise awareness about violence against correctional officers.
Workers could be seen with signs outside of Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, to raise awareness about violence against correctional officers.

A visual demonstrating the 14 correctional officers that are currently off work due to being injured on the job.
A visual demonstrating the 14 correctional officers that are currently off work due to being injured on the job.

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