Prison program builds bridges

ETA program develops community connections

Inmates of William Head Institution are regularly brought into the community as part of a program of escorted temporary absence, and one of the program’s beneficiaries maintains it’s an initiative that deserves nothing but praise and positive recognition.

Willy Burrows, the camp ranger at Camp Barnard, the popular year round residential camp, regularly hosts between two and 10 inmates who arrive at the Otter Point operation to help out with tasks that range from welding to woodworking and everything in between.

“It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved. The guys get to come and put their skills and energy to work outside the institution and we get the benefit of their work, doing things that we could never afford to hire people to do,”said Burrows.

“The guys were here last Monday helping to stack wood and build some forms we’re making to allow us to move a building. Last year they built a bridge at the camp, and while they did that, they were building bridges back to the community.”

The program is part of the rehabilitation program for the minimum security institution.

“They’re not taking work away from any local businesses, but they are helping the community by giving something back where it otherwise wouldn’t get done,” said Anthony Baldo, assistant warden at William Head.

The men who are part of this program work all over the CRD, including Sooke where they have assisted with work for groups who otherwise couldn’t afford to have the work done. For example, they help pack hampers at the Mustard Seed, and they’ve done demolition work in Sooke for Habitat for Humanity, where they worked to salvage material that was ultimately sold by Habitat as part of their Re-store program.

Baldo explained that more than 96 per cent of the men at William Head will, at some point be released back into the community and that the ETA program offers the men a chance to work in a normal environment and to make connections to the communities in which they may choose to make their home.

Those connections tend to last and provide a positive base for reintegrating into society, said Baldo.

“It’s far more productive and responsible to do this than to hold the inmates until their release date and then just punt them back into society,” said Baldo.

To qualify for the escorted temporary absence, inmates work with their case managers to express their interest in helping the community and learning the rules that will govern their behaviour outside the confines of the institution.

“Most of the men here recognize that they owe a debt to society and that by doing this work, they’re showing that they want to begin to repay that debt. It also gives them a sense of purpose and self worth and helps in the healing process for everyone involved.”

Baldo made a point of sending his thanks to Sooke and to surrounding communities for their cooperation with the program.

“Those connections the men develop, the experiences they have … it gives them hope. And that’s so very important and appreciated. Programs like this are a collaboration that’s only possible with community support and it’s extremely important and makes us more effective successfully integrating rehabilitated individuals to the community.”

William Head is located on on 35 hectares of federal land at the southernmost tip of Vancouver Island, near Metchosin, and houses about 200 inmates deemed to be the lowest possible security risk.



editor@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Incumbent mayors in Victoria, Esquimalt retain their roles

A high voter turnout saw the mayors unchanged, but new faces on both councils

What to pack in an emergency-preparedness kit for earthquakes

Several earthquakes of Vancouver Island’s West Coast have people wondering how to be ready

Business is booming as Black Press gears up for Victoria career fair

One stop shop for questions about entering the workforce, finding work experience

Multiple earthquakes off Vancouver Island recorded around the world

Five earthquakes overnight on Oct. 21 were measured as ‘strong’

Rotating Canada Post strikes begin in Victoria

Monday’s mail will be delayed one day due to strike

UPDATE: Lisa Helps re-elected as mayor of Victoria

Nine people were seeking the mayor’s seat for the City of Victoria and 29 candidates hoped to be chosen for council

B.C. government moves to tighten resource industry regulations

New superintendent will oversee engineers, biologists, foresters

Election watchdog seeks digitally savvy specialists to zero in on threats

Move follows troublesome evidence of online Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election

More court before Dutch man charged in Amanda Todd case is extradited here

Appeals must be dealt with in Europe, before charges faced in B.C.

Crown says man guilty of B.C. girl’s 1978 murder based on alleged confession

Jury hears details of girl’s 1978 murder while Crown says man should be convicted of girl’s murder based on alleged confession.

BCHL alumni has NHL jersey retired by Anaheim Ducks

Paul Kariya played with the Penticton Vees from 1990-1992

Most Read