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Kamloops correctional officers to rally against violence in prisons later this week

October 15, 2019 - 5:10 PM

Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre staff are expected to rally outside of the local prison on Thursday to bring attention to increased violence against correctional officers.

Just last month, two correctional officers from Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre were assaulted by an inmate, according to Dean Purdy, vice president and chair of the corrections and sheriff services with the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union.

“We had two correctional officers attacked, one was sucker punched in the face and a second officer was injured and assaulted who was responding to the first assault on the other officer,” Purdy says.

A rally is being planned for Thursday, Oct. 17, outside the front gates at Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre.

“This is a rally to bring attention to the fact that violence levels are on the rise in all seven of our maximum security jails around the province and Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre is no different,” Purdy says. He has worked as a correctional officers for more than 30 years on Vancouver Island.

Purdy estimates approximately 30 to 40 workers will be there to show their support. The goal of the rally is to get better support for correctional officers from the province including changing the officer to inmate ratio.

“We need (the ratio) to go back to what it used to be because the way things are going right now, it’s just not working and our correctional officers are very frustrated and they are upset on the changes they are seeing right now and something has to give,” Purdy says.

He also explains how there needs to be better consequences for violent inmates and inmates who make threats of violence towards correctional officers.

Purdy says the general profile of an inmate in custody has significantly changed over the last decade.

“We have got a more violent, younger, inmate in custody and they don’t hesitate to act and assault our correctional officers,” he says. “60 per cent of our inmate population are facing mental health issues, we have gang-affiliated inmates that are on suicide watch and inmates that are management problems and can’t be housed with anyone.”

Purdy says post-traumatic stress disorder claims from correctional officers have also been increasing all around the province.

“We need to help support our correctional officers who are witnessing violence and have been assaulted themselves and are off (work) because of it,” he says.

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