B.C. policy on escorted prisoners out of date

Re: Escape raises questions about escorted leaves, April 5.

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.

Mike Oliver

Nanaimo