Usual problems at new jail

The Okanagan Correctional Centre in Oliver may be state-of-the-art, but is still dealing with problems typical of prisons.

In the jail's first six months of operation Jan. 12 to June 30, 2017, BC Corrections reports there were 29 “incidents” of inmate-on-inmate assaults.

During the same time, there were five “incidents” of inmate-on-staff assault in the prison, which are defined as “any violent incident that results in some degree of intentional physical contact or force such as throwing items, spitting, scratching, pushing or hitting.”

The count included those that may have resulted in no injury.

“BC Corrections’ top priority is the safety of its staff, the community and the inmates in its custody,” said a statement released with the data. “BC Corrections does not tolerate violent incidents – each one is reviewed and, where appropriate, reported to police, and inmates may be charged internally or face criminal charges.”

Since January 2017, there have also been 76 incidents involving contraband drugs and 15 incidents involving contraband weapons at the prison.

Those figures also include instances where contraband was suspected but not necessarily found, and when it was intercepted before it reached inmates.

OCC is one of four prisons in the province with a body scanner to check new inmates for contraband.

Defence lawyers in Penticton court have mentioned at various times this year they have heard the prison is still ironing out the kinks in its first year in operation.

Don Skogstad raised the point in October, successfully arguing his client would be safer in a federal prison in the Fraser Valley given the sexual nature of his offences.

The prison has been sued by three inmates; one for allegations of violence by a guard, another for an injury claimed to have been sustained while working, and most recently, by an inmate who was stabbed by another while in protective custody.

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