By Lyonel Doherty
We’d love to be a fly on the wall inside the Okanagan Correctional Centre.
Unlike the movies, you won’t see fire hose wash-downs or brutal wardens making an example of the new fish. But not surprisingly, you will see violence among inmates and violence against the guards, as reported in statistical data kept by BC Corrections. There were nearly 30 assaults among inmates from January to June of this year, and five assaults against officers.
It would be interesting to find out how many correctional officers have resigned or moved on since being hired last year. No doubt some of them realized it was not the job for them after seeing what they were up against.
You definitely have to have a thick skin to work there because we don’t imagine there is a lot of high-fiving going on or friendly poker games with the guards.
What is a little troubling is the ratio of inmates to officers. According to the BCGEU, there is one officer per living unit, which currently accommodates up to 58 inmates. You basically have to have eyes in the back of your head under this ratio.
The statistical data concerning contraband finding its way into the prison is also troubling – 76 incidents of drugs and 15 incidents involving weapons.
With all of this high-tech equipment being utilized in the facility, one has to wonder how this contraband is getting through.
We definitely commend these correctional officers for doing what they do; it’s a very challenging occupation. But it must be very rewarding when they see an inmate start turning his life around and walk the road to rehabilitation.
These officers are making a big difference in the lives of people who have made some bad choices. In turn, they are making society safer for all of us, and for that we owe them gratitude.