What’s going on in Canada’s prisons?

Guards are using force more often and violence is increasing as prisons become more crowded and the number of prisoners with mental health problems isn’t being tracked.

The data has not been publicly reported by correctional authorities, but in an exclusive interview with the Star last week, Canada’s chief prison investigator Howard Sapers first flagged a trend that shows no sign of waning. It includes more inmate-to-inmate violence, inmates assaulting guards, as well as guards who are violent toward inmates, across all federal facilities housing male and female offenders in Canada.

Over the past three years ending March 31, 2012, the total number of assaults Correctional Services Canada reported behind bars rose from 1,415 in 2009/10, to 1,566 in 2010/11, to 1,669 in 2011/12. That’s an increase of 15 per cent in just three years.

Corrections Officers are worried that new legislation will mean further overcrowding. Meanwhile, the Harper government is considering privatizing some services within prisons.

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