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Stark Raven News
On March 31st, the Burnaby Correctional Centre for Women was closed. The prison was closed as a result of cutbacks to the BC Ministry of the Solicitor-General and Public Safety. The women were moved to several different prisons farther away from Vancouver.
Burnaby Correctional Centre for Women, BCCW, was a provincial prison for women that also held federally sentenced women. Federally sentenced women are those who have received sentences of over 2 years. Provincially sentenced women are those who have received sentences of under 2 years.
The provincially sentenced women who are classified minimum and medium security have been moved to the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women in Maple Ridge. It was previously a men’s medium prison. It had it’s security upgraded for the women’s arrival.
Federally sentenced women are being held at the Fraser Valley Institutution in Abbotsford. The prisoners are now under the jurisdiction of the Correctional Service of Canada.
Maximum security provincial or federal prisoners are being held in the Surrey Pre-Trial Centre. This is a high security men’s facility designed to hold people awaiting trial. People awaiting trial, and those on immigration hold are automatically determined to be maximum security. There is a floor at the Surrey Pre-Trial Centre that holds up to 90 women.
This move to put women into a men’s prison, with little movement or programming has outraged prison justice activists. Nationally there has been pressure to move women out from their isolation in men’s prisons. This was one of the issues that sparked a recent special investigation by the Canadian Human Rights Commission into the situation for women in prison. (see related article CAEFS Statement on CHRC Report: Protecting Their Rights)
The total available prison beds for women in BC have been increased from 150 to almost 300. Activists predict that these beds will be filled, meaning an increase in incarceration of women in the province.
It remains unclear how this move is saving the province money. Community activists have argued that if the province was really interested in saving money, then they could put resources into community support and alternatives to incarceration.
It is also unknown what will be happening with the 13 year old BCCW site.
Related Article: Women in Men's Prisons Unacceptable