A national survey of Canadian parole officers found that the vast majority feel overworked, and feel they can’t properly protect the public as a result.
The Union of Safety and Justice Employees released the results of its survey on Thursday May 16, which revealed that more than two-thirds of the 540 parole officers surveyed worried they are not able to sufficiently protect the public given their current workloads.
Ninety-two per cent of the officers agreed an increase in staffing would improve their capacity to keep Canadians safe.
Former correctional programs officer Bill Bailey, who spent decades behind prison walls, is now speaking out about the issues officers face.
“If you work in a maximum security prison you’re looking at 30 offenders on your workload,” said Bailey, before saying 30 offenders is an understatement.
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One of the people behind the survey was Dave Neufeld, the vice president of Union of Solicitor General Employees, who told Global News that the survey was done in order for Canadians to hear the cries of parole officers and the environments they endure on a daily basis.
“They are professionals who are public servants and they simply do not get enough support,” said Neufeld via Skype from Winnipeg.
Neufeld warns that a proposed bill that would eliminate the use of segregation in prisons must be thought through before passed.
“With Bill C-83, administration segregation needs to be addressed and it needs to be done in a way that inmates have quality contact with parole officers and other staff within our institutions, and if we don’t get this right, we are not making things better,” said Neufeld.
According to the Government of Canada’s website, Bill C-83 is designed to help inmates transition into the community.
According to Bill C-83, “safe and humane custody and access to programs and services while incarcerated increases the chance that offenders will come back as law-abiding, contributing members. This creates greater public safety for all Canadians.”
As for Bailey, he says he will continue to fight for the men and women who enter Canadian institutions each day, and hopes that the federal government will take notice of the survey and make the necessary changes to help officers’ workload.
Global News attempted to contact Correctional Service Canada about the survey’s findings, but had yet to receive a response by press time.