(THE NEWS/files) B.C. Corrections provides offenders with programs such as substance abuse management, violence prevention, relationship violence prevention and essential life skills.

Letter: Guard-to-inmate ratio ‘big problem’

‘Corrections helps offenders in custody and the community learn better ways’

Editor, The News:

Re: ‘Justice, prison reform needed.’

Noella Neale discussed inmates and the reform process in local prisons. Ms. Neale comments on the fact that Dean Purdy, of the BCGEU and his members are more concerned with protecting guards who were fired rather than focusing on the core issues of violence in a very broken ‘correction’ system.

She notes that there is no attempt to address the issues that brought the prisoners to ‘this place.’ The statements made by her lead to the conclusion that taxpayers, and those working within the system who genuinely wish to see improvement for all concerned should refuse to be complicit in this failure and demand better from those in positions of authority.

I strongly disagree with her conclusion, as well as her supporting premises. Her evidence provided is based on assumptions and claims without factual evidence.

She by stating that ‘guards holds noon-hour protest over safety.’ However, she fails to make any comment on this statement throughout her letter.

Instead, she decides to attack the correctional system and claims that there is no rehabilitation, no education opportunity, no job preparation and no drug or mental health assistance.

On the B.C. government website, it notes how corrections helps offenders in custody and the community learn better ways of responding to the world around them and to reduce re-offending.

B.C. Corrections also provides offenders with programs, such as substance abuse management, violence prevention, relationship violence prevention and essential life skills. It also helps offenders gain school and work skills while in custody to assist their return to the community.

Ms. Noele writes about the alleged violence issued by guards towards prisoners, but fails to mention the violence caused by prisoners towards guards.

A Black Press article notes that attacks on guards are quite common. On average, 95 guards are attacked by inmates each year, with that number gradually on the rise.

Purdy notes how a big part of the problem is the guard-to-inmate ratio, which he said shot from 20 inmates per guard to 72 inmates per guard in 2002. The under-staffed departments in corrections leads to more opportunity for violence as shown above.

Ms. Noele makes some very dangerous assumptions throughout her letter. She provides no factual evidence to support her claims and, in fact, is proved wrong when specific research on those claims are done.

She ends by trying to persuade taxpayers to refuse to be complicit because of her idea that there is no reform for the inmates, a statement proved to be incorrect. However, she never commented on the lack of protection and safety of prison guards mentioned at the start of her letter.

Brady Weir

Pitt Meadows

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