Prison guards at Fraser Regional Correctional Centre in Maple Ridge (Neil Corbett/Maple Ridge News)

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Prison guards are protesting the firing of eight staff members from the Fraser Regional Correctional Centre and what they say are dangerously low staffing levels in provincial jails in Maple Ridge on Friday morning.

Prior to 2001, the ratio of inmates to staff was capped at 20-1, but is now at approximately 40-1.

“How do you keep track of 40 inmates if you are one person?” said a staff representative with the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union.

“That results in safety issues for our members, and also safety issues for inmates,” he said.

The number of assaults in prisons – including assaults on guards, has been rising in incidence and severity, he said. The call to lower the ratio has been a long-term campaign for the union, which would mean hiring more officers.

The overcrowded Maple Ridge facility was built with a capacity for 300 inmates, but now houses more than 500, the said.

They were also protesting the dismissal of eight corrections officers who were fired after a violent incident at the facility on 256th Street in September of 2017.

“We definitely believe that was wrongful dismissal,” the staff representative said, adding the union is fighting to have the union members re-instated.

Four corrections officers were charged with assault in connection with that incident, and they are to appear in Port Coquitlam provincial court on Feb. 26.

Read MORE: Four officers at Maple Ridge’s regional prison charged with assault

Six more officers faced discipline by BC Corrections after the same incident.

Dean Purdy, BCGEU vice president, said in a December union notice the incident took place in September in a living unit after “an unprovoked, violent attack,” and that other officers responded and “secured the inmate.”

“Four of our own are facing criminal charges after coming to the aid of a fellow correctional officer …” he said.

He noted Ridge Meadows RCMP investigated, but made no recommendation at the time about charges for the officers. However, last November, the Crown filed charges.

“Without prejudicing the case, we note that this situation could happen to any one of us working in corrections and sheriff services,” Purdy said.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Touchstones gala celebrates the great outdoors

Breaking Trail will be held June 1

Richard Hill’s bird photographs at the Nelson library

‘Big and Small: Birds Found in the West Kootenay’ is on display through June

Energy efficiency session at the Nelson Public Library

Nelson Hydro customers who are seniors are now eligible for free weatherization upgrades

REPLAY: The best videos from across B.C. this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week in the province

Wildfire crews watching for dangerous wind shift in High Level, Alta.

The Chuckegg Creek fire is raging out of control about three kilometres southwest of the town

UN urges Canada to take more vulnerable Mexican migrants from Central America

The request comes as the United States takes a harder line on its Mexican border

Mistrial declared in Jamie Bacon murder plot trial

Bacon was on trial for counselling to commit the murder of Person X

B.C. VIEWS: Money-laundering melodrama made for TV

Public inquiry staged to point fingers before 2021 election

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

Transport Canada wants to limit use of recorders to if a crew’s actions led to a crash

Raptors beat Bucks 100-94 to advance to franchise’s first-ever NBA Finals

Leonard has 27 points, 17 boards to lead Toronto past Milwaukee

Third person charged in death of B.C. teen found in torched SUV

Inderdeep Kaur Deo facing charge of accessory after the fact to murder

Most Read