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.”

Just Posted

Cache Creek landfill extension set for September completion

Project has been delayed due to wildfires and floods over past two years

Drag races set to return for Graffiti Days weekend

Annual event features old favourites like the smoke show, and new events like a drive-in movie

Bonaparte River fishway, Thompson steelhead among projects awarded grant funding

More than $9 million will help 170 fish and wildlife projects around B.C.

Wellness clinics provide free, drop-in health information

New service in Clinton helps patients manage their health care and stay out of hospital

VIDEO: Protesters in Penticton gather to rally against sleeping-on-sidewalk bylaw

The proposed bylaw would outlaw sitting or lying on the city’s downtown sidewalks

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Five takeaways from the Court of Appeal ruling on B.C.’s pipeline law

It’s unclear how many tools are left in B.C.’s toolbox to fight the project

Scheer says it would take Conservatives five years to balance budget

Scheeraccused the Liberal government of spending $79.5 billion of previously unbudgeted funds

B.C. man, 30, arrested for driving his parents’ cars while impaired twice in one day

The Vancouver-area man was arrested after officers caught him driving impaired twice in one day

Most Read