The BCGEU is appealing the release of a heavily redacted first draft of MLA Laurie Throness’ report on prison safety. The union received a copy of Throness’ original report following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. A large portion of the document we have received has been blanked out. This is the latest development in the BCGEU’s 10 month-long attempt to have the original report released.
“This is another example of the provincial government operating without the openness and transparency they promised from the FOI process,” says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. “MLA Throness was assigned to investigate safety within our provincial prison system and identify solutions. We have every reason to believe he did that. We want to know what was in his original report and what changes were made to it. We are not going to let this drop. We are going to use every avenue available to shed light on Throness’ original report and his recommendations.”
As Parliamentary Secretary for Corrections, Throness was asked on July 9, 2013 to conduct a review of safety in provincial prisons. His report was to be submitted to the Minister of Justice by June 30, 2014. On November 29, 2014 Throness wrote then BCGEU president Darryl Walker to explain that his report had been submitted to the Minister of Justice five months earlier. In the letter, Throness explained why the release of his report had been delayed: “Because I want the recommendations to be integrated into government policy, a process of internal negotiation followed the submission of my report. I adjusted my recommendations to ensure that they are practical and achievable.”
“First we were told no first draft existed. Then after an appeal, we received a heavily edited version that concealed much of the content in MLA Throness’ first draft,” says Dean Purdy BCGEU executive vice president Corrections and Sheriff Services. “It is important to know what MLA Throness included in his first draft after meeting with a broad range of stakeholders. It is also important to know what was removed from his report during the five months before the report was made public, including any recommendations he may have made. As the media have been reporting as recently as last week, violence inside our provincial prisons is increasing.”
June 30, 2014 – Throness' report is submitted to the Minister of Justice
November 19, 2014 – In a letter to BCGEU president Stephanie Smith, Throness explains the public release of his report has been delayed due to an “internal negotiation” and that he adjusted his recommendations to “ensure they are practical and achievable.”
December 18, 2014 – Throness’ report “Standing Against Violence – A Safety Review of BC Corrections is released. Although the report included some positive recommendations it failed to address troubling officer-to-inmate ratios and recommended only minor improvements to security.
February 16, 2015 – the BCGEU files a Freedom of Information request for a copy of the first draft of Throness’ report
February 25, 2015 – the BCGEU is informed by Information Access Operations (IAO), Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services, that government does not have a first draft of the Throness report
September 14, 2015 – the BCGEU is advised that government is conducting a search for Throness’ records
September 24, 2015 – the BCGEU is advised that a draft has been located
November 20, 2015 – the BCGEU receives a heavily redacted first draft of the Throness report