A record number of inmates

Correctional investigator Howard Sapers reviews the state of Canada’s prisons.

As of July 31, there were 15,097 inmates in federal prisons, a “historic high,” according to Sapers. In the past two years, 1,000 new inmates entered the system, even though there were no new beds. Sapers described that number as equal to the population of two medium-security prisons, yet the system has had to absorb them.

Sapers added that overcrowding is most acute on the Prairies. “Of the growth, 52 per cent has come from the Prairies. It’s the fastest-growing region in the country and aboriginal offenders account for most of the increase and account for 43 per cent of the offenders in that region,” he said … Sapers told CBC News that overcrowding has led to growing tensions and violence. “We’re seeing an increase in the use of force, an increase in assaults, an increase in sick leave and stress leave among staff, we’re seeing an increase in lockdowns and exceptional searches.” Over the past five years, assaults in the Prairie region are up 90 per cent, from 306 in 2007 to 583 in 2012. The number of incidents involving use of force by staff rose 95 per cent in the same period.

See previously: What’s going on in Canada’s prisons? and What are we going to do with all these prisoners?