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Glen Flett, serving life sentence, says prison overcrowding unsafe

01/16/2015 01:55 EST | Updated 03/18/2015 05:59 EDT
A B.C. prisoner serving a life sentence says overcrowding leads to unsafe conditions for prisoners and for employees.

Glen Flett is the founder of Long-Term Inmates in the Community, and is on parole while serving a life sentence for second degree murder.

Earlier this week, the province's Auditor General Carol Bellringer issued a report saying prisons are over capacity. According to the report, male prisons in B.C. were at 140 per cent capacity in June of 2014, with prisons for women at 100 per cent capacity.

This leads to "double bunking" — where two inmates are put in a cell originally designed for one person.

"It stresses people out," said Flett, who was double bunked for a short time.

"When you have no privacy whatsoever, including using the toilet you have to angle for a position — it's a stressful thing to live with another person it that kind of close confinement."

Flett said when two prisoners are put into a small cell, they're more susceptible to transmitting diseases. He said there are also safety concerns that come with being in close quarters with another convicted criminal.

"You can't be sure of the guy you're living with. Who knows what could happen," he said.

"Prison's a place where fear for your safety is natural whether you're single bunked or double bunked, but the more people you have around you … naturally the violence level is more likely to happen."

In her report, Bellringer made a number of recommendations, including the Adult Custody Division defining appropriate occupancy levels for B.C. prisons, and periodic assessments of safety and security within facilities.

To hear the full interview with Glenn Flett, click the audio labelled: B.C. prisons overcrowded.

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