To the Editor,
Re: Escape raises questions about escorted leaves, April 5.
I felt a lot of déjà vu after reading about an inmate escaping from a Nanaimo correctional facility while on a community escort, because I faced that very dilemma as a retired Ontario correctional officer.
Ontario taxpayers could not stomach locked up inmates escaping, and re-offending while escaped. As well, correctional officers in Ontario were concerned about their safety while escorting inmates in the community.
That all led to a health and safety complaint by the union, which led to: two escorts for community escorts; community-escort training; protective vests for the correctional officers; baton training and usage on escort; pepper spray foam training and usage; orange coveralls for all inmates in Ontario institutions to be worn while on community escort so they would stand out if they escaped; leg irons and handcuffs used on escort and one of those always left on the inmate, even while on a hospital run being examined by a doctor; and a safe vehicle with barrier between escorts and inmates.
The fact is that even the most harmless looking inmate becomes dangerous in a community when they escape, because they are apt to do the most stupid things in that community to remain free, like break-ins, theft, home invasions, and in the worst case, hostage-taking and assaults. Especially if they are drug addicted.
When it comes to a community safety policy for escorts, it’s time to get into the 22nd century British Columbia. The tools and training are standard everywhere else, and it’s just common sense.