May 27th, 2024

B.C. prison guards decry increasing violence, drone drops of weapons, drugs

By The Canadian Press on April 17, 2024.

Patches are seen on the arm and shoulder of a corrections officer in Abbotsford, B.C., on Thursday Oct. 26, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers says prisons have become “overwhelmed” by a surge in drone drops of weapons and drugs, driving a wave of violence in correctional facilities.

Union members plan to protest outside the regional headquarters of the Correctional Service of Canada in Abbotsford, B.C., on Thursday over escalating violence.

John Randle, the Pacific regional union president, says at least one prison in B.C. commonly has six or seven drone sightings a night.

He says guards are hampered from holding inmates accountable for violence because they are no longer allowed to use “disciplinary segregation” to temporarily remove a prisoner from a unit if they are violent against other inmates or guards.

The union says in a statement its officers are “routinely” targeted for assaults, often leaving them with both “physical and psychological injuries.”

It says the uptick in violence against guards has caused a mental health crisis, and working conditions and the management structure at correctional facilities don’t support front-line workers’ needs.

Randle says they expect at least 100 members to rally Thursday outside the Correctional Service of Canada’s Pacific regional headquarters in Abbotsford.

It says the protest is aimed at denouncing the violence faced by members, who commonly go home from work injured.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 17, 2024.

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