The big house is getting even bigger in Prince George.
Last month Solicitor General John Les announced the province is funding the addition of 20 permanent cells to the women’s unit of Prince George Regional Correctional Centre.
“This capital project will mean new cells for the women’s unit to ease capacity pressures at the facility,” Les said in a release. “These improvements will allow the centre to meet the needs of the region for the foreseeable future and provide additional employment opportunities in the community.”
The jail, which opened in 1996, currently has 19 beds for women in cells and dormitories. In addition there are 132 cells for men.
According to information released by the solicitor general’s office, Prince George Regional Correctional Centre averages 261 inmates. The additional 20 cells are expected to reduce over crowding in the jail.
Prince George was one of three jail expansion projects announced by Les last month. In Maple Ridge, the Fraser Regional Correctional Centre will add 135 new cells and 106 additional cells are planned for the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women.
According to the solicitor general’s office, the inmate population in B.C. has grown by more than 500 prisoners in the past three years and is increasing at four per cent per year.
The provincial government attributed the increase to increased policing, more charges being laid, longer and more complex trials, and more offenders breaching bail conditions.
Office of the Solicitor General spokeswoman Cindy Rose could not be reached for comment as of press time.