Stabbing latest act of violence at Wilkinson Road jail

A recent string of violent inmate-on-inmate confrontations at the Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre has union leader Dean Purdy calling for preventive action.

“Violence levels are on the rise,” Purdy said. “Assaults on correctional officers have risen in 2018 and this is something that is a concern for us.”

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It is also happening elsewhere in the corrections system, he said.

The most recent attack at the Wilkinson Road jail was a Sunday night stabbing, which followed a stabbing the previous week and an incident where an inmate had hot butter thrown on him. The butter had been heated up in a microwave to an extreme temperature, said Purdy.

Homemade edged weapons were used in both stabbings.

None of the inmates’ injuries was life-threatening.

Purdy said the Sunday attack occurred in a living unit when an inmate set upon two others.

“Staff intervened,” he said. “One of our correctional officers sustained blood contamination, blood-to-blood, and was also cut during the incident.”

Corrections officers already work in a stressful environment, and times are tense at the Vancouver Island facility, Purdy said.

Changes are needed, including more support for staff, he said.

Nothing is more important than having staff arrive home safe at the end of their shifts, B.C. Corrections spokeswoman Cindy Rose said in a statement.

“To this end, we’ve made an unprecedented effort over the past three years not only to learn from and reduce violent incidents, but to deploy innovative case management approaches across our centres with the primary goal of preventing violence.”

Rose said some incidents categorized as violent include such things as spitting, scratching or pushing, most of which do not result in serious injury.

“As a case in point, there have been some incidents at Vancouver Island Regional Correctional in recent weeks involving inmate-on-inmate conflicts,” she said.

“In one case of three responding correctional officers, one sustained a minor injury and was able to return to work quickly.

“The number of inmate assaults on staff has remained relatively stable at VIRCC with 13 incidents in 2018, 12 in 2017 and an average of 11 such incidents per year over the past seven years.”

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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