Offender programs fall short, auditor says

The B.C. government is struggling to deal with a record caseload of nearly 24,000 convicted offenders who aren't in jail.

Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre and other B.C. jails are overcrowded

VICTORIA – The B.C. government is struggling to deal with a record caseload of nearly 24,000 convicted offenders who are in the community, and it needs to do a better job of delivering programs to prevent them from reoffending.

Those are key conclusions of B.C. Auditor General John Doyle’s latest report on the provincial corrections system.

In addition to overcrowding in B.C. jails, nearly nine out of 10 convicted offenders in B.C. are not in custody, but are serving conditional sentences on house arrest or probation with court-imposed conditions.

The auditor found that additional staff have not kept up with the caseload, which increased 28 per cent in the past six years. And only 35 per cent of interventions that are designed to reduce re-offending are ever completed.

B.C. has four core programs. They focus on male offenders of spousal assault, other violent offenders, sex offenders and substance abusers.

Doyle made eight recommendations, related to improved reporting on rates of re-offence and better record-keeping. He recommended a review of staffing levels but didn’t prescribe what if any increase there should be to the current staff of 450 probation officers.

The B.C. public safety ministry accepted all eight recommendations. In its response to the report, the community corrections division noted that probation officers deal with adult offenders, “many of whom are violent and high risk.

“They deliver evidence-based programming such as the Relationship Violence Prevention Program, which has been shown to reduce re-offending by up to 50 per cent.”

NDP public safety critic Kathy Corrigan said it’s encouraging that a domestic violence program can have that much success, since domestic violence is the second-largest source of of offences in B.C. after impaired driving.

But Corrigan noted that Doyle found fewer than half of B.C.’s probation officers have completed the ministry’s domestic violence course.

Doyle surveyed a sample of 58 domestic violence case files, and found three quarters of them contained at least one alleged breach of court-imposed conditions. He said few of the cases were documented well enough to determine if breaches of probation were dealt with in court, but there were several cases where they were not.

The report identified three cases where “the unreported breaches involved victim contact from offenders convicted of domestic violence – and in all three cases, the offender had been assessed as being at either a medium or high risk to re-offend.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘Each step is a prayer’: Ojibwe man will walk from Hope to Vancouver Island for Indigenous healing, reconciliation

James Taylor departs Sept. 20, returns to Saanich in five days for sacred fire

Surrey school district proposing 13 new schools in the next decade

Staff suggest new designs for future builds to maximize school space

Delta McDonald’s temporarily closed after employees test positive for COVID-19

Two employees at the Annacis Island location (1285 Cliveden Ave.) reported testing positive on Sept. 18

Two Surrey schools report COVID-19 exposures, including second contact for Panorama Ridge

Fraser Health has created a new webpage listing COVID-19 cases in schools

Surrey school district student enrolment down from projections

‘That’s not something I can say in my time in Surrey, I have ever said at the board table’: superintendent

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Air quality advisory ends for the Lower Mainland

It had been in effect since Sept. 8

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

Most Read