Newly released audit predicts increased number of inmates into prisons that are already overcrowded and a justice system that is seriously underfunded.
Ottawa (16 Feb. 2012) - An internal B.C. government audit predicts an additional 470 inmates as a result of new federal crime bills. The audit also shows an annual funding shortfall of at least $53 million for B.C.’s already troubled justice system. The audit was completed last September but only released last week (click here to download audit).
“This is the second analysis we have seen from the B.C. government on the provincial impact of federal government crime bills,” says Darryl Walker, President of the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE).
“This newly released audit contains very troubling numbers. Our prisons are already overcrowded and our justice system is seriously underfunded. As we predicted, these new federal crime bills will make a bad situation much worse.”
The first analysis done by the provincial government was provided to the union in July 2010, in the form of a letter from the Deputy Solicitor General. That analysis, based on the federal legislation at the time, suggested there could be an additional 271 inmates.
The September 2011 government audit predicts the federal government’s Bill C-16 and Bill C-25 will result in 200 and 270 additional B.C. inmates respectively. This is a 17 per cent increase in the current average inmate count. The audit says these additional inmates will cost the province approximately $31 million per year. Bill C-16 has already become law, while Bill C-25 has been rolled into the federal government’s omnibus crime bill, Bill C-10, which will increase the funding shortfall and increase the number of inmates.
“We believe the additional inmate numbers could be even higher than the audit suggests,” says Dean Purdy, chair of BCGEU/NUPGE’s Component 1 which represents correctional officers and sheriffs.
“B.C. Corrections Branch had already stated prison capacity will continue to rise until the year 2020, and that was before the impacts of the federal crime bills were known. I look at this audit and I cannot begin to imagine how our courts and overcrowded prisons will be able to cope with this massive increase in inmates.”
“Last week the provincial government announced the location of the new Okanagan prison but provided no completion date,” Walker added.
“The next day they appointed nine new Provincial Court judges which still leaves the province well below a full complement. The next day they appointed a Vancouver lawyer to review the troubled provincial justice system but indicated there would be no new resources to address the crisis. This new audit shows the justice system is going to get worse before it gets better.”
The province will also face a $22 million annual shortfall when B.C. assumes the costs of an additional 168 police officers hired in 2009 and initially paid for by the federal government.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE