What works and what needs fixing at Nanaimo Correctional Centre got the once over from Mike Morris, B.C. solicitor general and minister for public safety, who toured the facility this week.
Morris spent more than two hours at the aging medium security prison surveying the state of its buildings, programs, safety and security.
The visit is part of a provincewide tour of B.C. correctional facilities Morris started earlier this year.
Morris said Nanaimo Correctional Centre is unique among those in the province because of its location on Brannen Lake and programs, such as the Guthrie House Therapeutic Community, the facility’s substance abuse treatment program, which has operated since 2007.
“It’s an old facility and it’s never been designed for a correctional facility so it’s been adapted over time and that’s one thing I’m very much aware of,” Morris said. “Our other facilities ensure maximum visibility and the inmates are monitored on a regular basis. There’s a lot work that needs to be done here.”
Nanaimo Correctional Centre was opened in 1983 as a minimum-security prison and was upgraded to medium-security status after security enhancements were installed in 1997.
According to a government fact sheet the facility has an average daily inmate population of about 130.
About 2,700 people are currently in B.C.’s corrections facilities.
In spite of the Nanaimo Correctional Centre’s age, Morris was impressed with Guthrie House and said he would like to see if the program can be implemented at other B.C. corrections institutions.
“The Guthrie House program, I really like. I had a very good in-depth look at that today,” Morris said. “It’s a holistic kind of a program that brings a lot of accountability back to the inmates. I’ve just listened to some of them speak very enthusiastically and candidly about what they think of it and I think if we can take and adapt it to other areas I think that we’ll have a very high success rate from around the province.”
About 40 inmates are currently in the Guthrie House program, which has 65 beds.