More than a dozen inmates have been released from correctional centres on Vancouver Island as BC Corrections hopes to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 from occurring.
Between March 1 and April 2, BC Corrections temporarily released 95 inmates from correctional facilities across the province, including 12 inmates from the Nanaimo Correctional Centre and four from the Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre in Victoria.
Data provided to CHEK News by the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General shows that the 16 released inmates on Vancouver Island were serving intermittent sentences, which usually means they were only in custody on weekends or on a part-time basis.
Early release does not mean an inmate’s sentence has ended or has been suspended, but rather that their sentence continues to run while they’re on out on what the ministry calls “temporary absence.”
There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at any provincial correctional centre on Vancouver Island but a federal prison in Mission has two confirmed cases. Another case was announced at the Okanagan Correctional Centre near Oliver, B.C. last week.
The ministry says BC Corrections has been conducting risk assessments for non-violent and sentenced inmates who could be released early, as they attempt to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 from occurring within the correctional facility system.
Correctional centres have also implemented a number of protocols designed to keep COVID-19 out of correctional facilities and contain the spread of infection, should there be any.
Such protocols include a ban on in-person visits to the correctional centre except in exceptional situations, a reduction of delivery services to correctional centres and lawyers are being encouraged to meet with their clients by video or phone. Those who develop coronavirus symptoms within a correctional centre’s living unit will be immediately separated from the rest of the population.
There are currently 212 inmates at the Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre and 63 inmates at the Nanaimo Correctional Centre, according to BC Corrections.