MAPLE RIDGE - A brand-new, state-of-the-art building at the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women (ACCW) officially opens today, further increasing corrections capacity in British Columbia as well as providing a safe operating environment for both staff and inmates.
This 104-cell expansion has been created for women who require secure custody - the highest level of security classification. Now, for the first time at ACCW, women at all three levels of security classifications - open, medium and secure - will be housed at the facility.
Approximately 70 female inmates currently at the Surrey Pretrial Services Centre (SPSC) will move into the new facility later this month. Not only will this free up capacity at SPSC, it also brings female inmates in the Lower Mainland under one roof, giving them more access to programming and services that are specifically designed for women.
Numerous innovations in design, including state-of-the-art security and surveillance systems, will help ensure the safety of staff and inmates. In addition, this facility has been planned from the ground up with female inmates in mind, resulting in expanded medical coverage, unique cell features and unit configurations.
The new expansion will also be home to BC Corrections' first all-female tactical team - a specially trained team of correctional staff who respond to emergency situations in the centre. This new 20-member team recently graduated after completing their intensive training just a few weeks ago.
The $45-million expansion project was completed on budget and created 125 jobs during the construction phase. Now that the project is complete, 55 full-time correctional officers have been hired to staff the expansion.
The new cells are part of a $185-million expansion plan to meet the growing demand for capacity -the largest capital investment in BC Corrections' history, adding 340 cells throughout the province.
Shirley Bond, Minister of Justice and Attorney General -
"Increasing capacity in B.C.'s correctional centres enhances the safety of staff, communities and inmates alike, and supports our vision of safe communities and strong families."
"By building this new facility, we are able to create a safe working environment and offer services and more programming specifically designed for women offenders. We hope this will motivate inmates to make changes in their lives that will ultimately make all of our communities safer."
Dawn Kelly, warden, Alouette Correctional Centre for Women -
"The benefits from this expansion will be numerous for our staff. Not only will they have the opportunity to gain well-rounded experience by working in all three security classifications, but the latest in security design will make sure our staff are arriving each day to a safe and secure workplace."
"There will also be opportunities for our new secure custody inmates. They'll now have access to more gender-specific programming designed to tackle the issues these women face. We work very hard towards their rehabilitation and are always very gratified to see when those programs actually make a difference and lives are changed as a result."
Marc Dalton, MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission -
"This expansion has been an important economic initiative for the community of Maple Ridge. Not only did it provide 125 construction jobs during the building phase, it is also providing full-time employment for 55 new correctional officers and many other social and economic benefits to our community."
Marla Chandler-Soanes, director of community initiatives, Elizabeth Fry Society -
"We're excited about the opening of this facility, in particular because moving women from Surrey Pretrial to ACCW will enhance their ability to participate in vital programming. We're looking forward to working with the women arriving soon at this centre to help them plan for success by accessing resources including housing, employment opportunities and family re-connection. These supports have all been shown to be important for community integration and reducing the return of women to custody."
- Alouette Correctional Centre for Women was opened in April 2004 as a facility for female offenders who are classified to open or medium security.
- This expansion means that ACCW now can house women who require secure custody - the highest level of security classification.
- ACCW employs 115 correctional officers and the vast majority - almost 95 per cent - are women. All front-line officers who interact with inmates at the centre are female.
- All inmates have access to gender-specific programming such as Emotions Management for Women, Relationship Skills for Women and Substance Abuse Programming for Women.
- Medium and open custody inmates can access work and life-skill training programs, such as the horticulture and greenhouse program, the K9 'Doggy Daycare' program and gain work experience in the community at a local thrift store.
- The new cells at ACCW are part of the $185-million first phase of the largest capital expansion in BC Corrections' history. This ongoing expansion also includes:
- A 20-cell expansion for women, which opened in December 2010, at Prince George Regional Correctional Centre.
- A 216-cell expansion to the Surrey Pretrial Centre, where walls are now being erected toward an expected completion late next year.
- Toward the second phase, the government is currently completing a business plan for a new, 360-cell Okanagan correctional centre. In February, the B.C. government announced its preferred site for building this new centre, on Osoyoos Indian Band land near Oliver.
- When complete, the Okanagan facility will contribute to an overall increase of almost 800 new cells on the Lower Mainland, in the Interior and in the North since 2008.
- B.C. correctional centres are exceeding the capacity for which they were originally built. BC Corrections expects inmate counts to rise by 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent a year for the foreseeable future.
More information on BC Corrections, its facilities and programs is at: www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/corrections/index.htm
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Justice