Inmate count at PGRCC rises but still below pre-pandemic level

The number of inmates being housed at Prince George Regional Correctional Centre grew by 30 over the month of May, according to B.C. Corrections.

In all, 144 were in the jail's custody as of the last week in May. Although up significantly, the count was still less than the 166 at the start of March when the COVID-19 pandemic began to take hold.

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"While the in-custody count at PGRCC is up from its lowest point during the COVID-19 pandemic, it remains below pre-pandemic levels and BC Corrections remains steadfast in its commitment and ability to follow all measures undertaken to keep people in custody safe from the disease," Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General public affairs officer Hope Latham said.

PGRCC has held few as 112 as steps were taken to lessen the population.

Judges have been more quick to issue sentences for time served and to grant bail to keep people convicted or accused of minor crimes out of PGRCC.

Inside the province's jails, steps have included keeping new inmates in the intake unit for the virus' 14-day incubation period before letting them into the general population, and isolation for the same period for those showing symptoms, according to a BC Corrections fact sheet.

Thanks to the lower populations, double bunking has become rare or even eliminated, depending on the jail and in instances where physical distancing cannot be maintained, staff and contractors must wear approved masks. Inmates who are symptom free after the 14 days are not required to wear masks.

For meals, inmates have been divided into smaller groups and lines have been marked on floors to keep them separate. Inmates are also encouraged to eat in their cells, refrain from sharing food or utensils and to wash their hands frequently.

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