Opinion

News Views: Message escaped

Ridge Meadows RCMP didn’t release information about a prisoner who escaped from Fraser Regional Correctional Centre on the weekend until three days after it happened.

Ajit Singh climbed a 3.5-metre-high fence at the prison on 256th Street and ran away through a forest at noon on Saturday.

He hasn't been caught, yet.

No wonder.

No matter who the inmate is, the protocol should be the same when an inmate escapes, and part of that should be to immediately notify the public, if not to warn people for their own safety, then so they can be aware, looking to help provide information leading to the capture of a fugitive.

Residents have the right to be alerted.

To wait 74 hours to notify them is negligent.

It also shows cracks in the system, like the email mix-up that led to the escape of three inmates on a work crew in December.

But it’s difficult to blame the guards when there are 525 inmates, as on Saturday, in a prison built for 253. Temporary tent structures erected to help with overcrowding while the prison undergoes expansion are now overcrowded themselves. They were built to hold 52 inmates, but had 85 stuffed in them when Singh snuck off, with only two guards watching.

Slips such as these compromise confidence in the justice system.

We don’t know who all these inmates are.

We’re continually told that they pose no risk to the public, whether working at the fish hatchery or the Albion Fairgrounds.

But then inmates keep walking away from these crews and climbing fences to escape.

We hear about drugs in the prison, and inmates dying in the prison, and riots at the prison.

These inmates ended up in there for a reason.

Who knows what they are capable of if they are willing to risk further incarceration by running away – steal a car, take a hostage?

The public had a right to know about escaped inmates right away – not three days later – so we can decide for ourselves how to react.

The criminals need to be policed, not the message.

 

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News

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