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Work programs inspire inmates to learn and help others

VICTORIA - Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton is touring some of B.C.'s nine correctional facilities and seeing firsthand some of the unique work programs that help inmates gain self-confidence and new skills, and give back to others in need.

Today, Anton toured the North Fraser Pretrial Centre (NFPC), Fraser Regional Correctional Centre (FRCC), and Alouette Correctional Centre for Women (ACCW). At ACCW, she visited the horticulture program where inmates learn skills from a master gardener from Van Dusen Gardens. This innovative work program at the ACCW teaches the women how to garden and operate a greenhouse. The food they grow is used in meals served at the facility.

A variety of work programs exist in corrections centres in all regions of the province. In Nanaimo, inmates at the Nanaimo Correctional Centre (NCC) provide firehose cleaning and repair services to B.C.'s wildfire crews.

The program not only helps firefighters protect communities and save lives, it also saves public dollars by extending the life of fire equipment that was previously discarded and replaced with new equipment, for a fraction of the cost.

Many work programs are designed to help inmates get a job after they are released. For example, at the Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre (VIRCC), inmates can take bicycle technician training and give back to the community through an important humanitarian cause. Inmates in the program repair bikes that have been stolen or abandoned and not retrieved from police. After the bikes are fixed, the Compassionate Resource Society, a non-profit organization, ships most of them overseas to
families in impoverished countries.

Inmates at the Prince George Regional Correctional Centre (PGRCC) are helping four-legged and furry British Columbians. There, inmates work with local rescues to care for abandoned and abused animals. The inmates are responsible for the animals' physical and emotional daily care, including their training and socialization. Program participants have indicated that they learned how to better express their emotions through the love and affection they shared with the animals.

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