BC Corrections teaches people in custody the value of work by helping them gain the skills they need to find it. Practical training and meaningful job experience give them a better chance of becoming self-sufficient on their release.
Real Experience for the Real World
At correctional centres, men and women can work in the centre and take vocational training that makes a positive impact, locally and globally. It also gives individuals the opportunity to:
- Earn wages
- Gain skills and experience
- Obtain certification they can use to find work after they are released
At the same time, these programs keep individuals active and learning and give our correctional officers the opportunity to teach teamwork and the value of doing a good job.
Giving Back, Locally and Globally
People in custody work to help people locally and overseas. In some programs, for example, they repair bicycles sent to impoverished communities in third world countries. Additionally, custody centres with garden programs donate fresh produce to food banks, shelters and healthy lunch programs.
Having a chance to make a difference in another person’s life can have a positive effect on individuals’ self-esteem. It’s not unusual for correctional officers to receive letters from individuals saying how being a part of something larger helped them see the world in a new light.
Technical Certificate Training Programs
Most correctional centres offer vocational training to help people in custody find employment on their release. Depending on the region and facility, they may earn certifications in:
- Building maintenance
- Industrial first aid
- Foodsafe Level 1
- Hazardous waste management
- Safe pesticide application
- Chainsaw operation
- Basic electrical
- Drywall installation
- Fire suppression
- Forklift operation
- Bicycle repair
- Bobcat operation
- Construction craft worker
People sentenced to custody at our Prince George and Fraser Regional Correctional Centres set up and maintain camps for emergency forest fire crews for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources.
At the Ford Mountain Correctional Centre, crews get practical training in working with fire-suppression equipment. They repair hose nozzles, fire shovels and axes to support local fire crews. This service funds the training initiatives at the centres and saves public dollars by extending the life of fire equipment.
Carpentry and Metal Fabrication
Many correctional centres teach carpentry and metal works, including, fabrication, power-tool use, welding and repair. Work crews produce gazebos, lawn and picnic furniture, wildlife habitats, kiosks, outhouses, road signs and pallets for private contractors and government clients.
Fraser Regional Correctional Centre is a Canadian Welding Bureau (CWB) certified training and test site.
Services for Camps, Parks and Community Groups
Individuals in custody give back to the community by providing maintenance, cleaning and building services for parks, municipal and non-profit groups, and help set-up public festivals such as the Winter Olympics and Vancouver’s Festival of Lights.
Crews are supervised, and they must pass strict risk-assessment tests to participate.
Horticulture and Silviculture
At the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women, a Van Dusen Gardens “master gardener” trained instructor trains people in custody in:
- Greenhouse operation
- Growing vegetables
- Basic woodworking, graphic painting and wood burning
- Snow removal
Produce grown by the centre’s individuals are served at the centre.
The Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre runs a similar greenhouse and arborist program with Thompson Rivers University. All plants grown are donated to the Stephenie Lewis Foundation which provides care and support to grandmothers and children affected by AIDS and produce is donated to the local foodbank.
Okanagan Correctional Centre maintains a 365 day a year growing environment. They learn the principles behind gardening and vegetable production in a vertical gardening environment. The vegetables produced are used in numerous ways. They are donated to local charities, purchased by people in custody at a price that is directly returned to the Inmate Benefit Fund and the excess is sold to staff.
Bicycle and Eye Glass Repair Programs
Two correctional centres provide bike repair services to the Compassionate Resource Warehouse, a volunteer organization that supplies refurbished bicycles to families in impoverished countries. Individuals at North Fraser Pretrial Centre repair thousands of eye glasses that are shipped overseas to people in need.
ALLCO Fish Hatchery
An inmate crew at the Fraser Regional Correctional Centre (FRCC) keeps salmon stocks healthy in B.C.’s rivers. The crew incubates, hatches and raises salmon fry, orchestrates their release, then collects new eggs from returning adults to begin the cycle again. Since its launch, the ALLCO facility has released almost 40 million salmon fry into local watersheds.
The ALLCO Fish Hatchery is managed by FRCC along with:
- Alouette River Management Society
- Department of Fisheries and Oceans (Canada)
- Ministry of the Environment (British Columbia)
North Fraser Pretrial Centre receives blankets, medical scrubs, sheets, towels, pillows and pillow cases from K-Bro Linens Inc. which are sorted, counted and donated to local and global charities such as homeless shelters and transition houses.
A large stock is also warehoused for emergencies, like flooding and forest fires in B.C. and Alberta.
Animal Care Programs
Our partners at the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BC SPCA) train women in custody at the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women to rehabilitate stray dogs for placement in the community. In return, work crews offer general maintenance and kennel cleaning services to local BC SPCA centres. Women in custody learn to train and care for various breeds and to assess a dog’s suitability for placement, and an in-house commercial pet day care earns revenue that helps fund the program.
Individuals at Okanagan Correctional Centre provide care for horses in the centre’s horse program. They learn grooming and handling techniques, and proper feeding schedules and diet. The horses are also used to socialize people with mental health and related needs to large animals.
Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre operates a small animal husbandry program where eggs and pork are donated to various organizations such as the Mustard Seed Society.
Other Work and Vocational Training Programs
People at all correctional centres in B.C. work to maintain their centres. Various crews may:
- Assist with the kitchen, laundry and maintenance
- Learn light industry skills such as tailoring, industrial ceramic production, and hardware packaging
- Manufacture siding, eavestroughs or small tools
- Learn trades such as TV maintenance, painting or landscaping
- Uniform repurposing program
- Small engine repair
Programs are designed to suit the specific requirement of each centre, as well as the needs of the communities in which the centre is located.
Centres also partner with other training agencies to provide people in custody with vocational and life skill certification. This helps them prepare for entering the workforce when released from their centre. One such partnership with the John Howard Society provides people with the skills required to gain employment in roofing and entry into the hospitality industry.