Three prominent rights organizations in B.C. have joined to ask the Representative for Children and Youth to review the B.C. Government’s proposal to transport all girl prisoners across the province to the Burnaby youth prison.
West Coast LEAF, Justice for Girls and the BCCLA are deeply concerned that instead of creating community based alternatives to imprisonment, the Ministry will breach girls’ human rights, particularly Aboriginal girls who are disproportionately represented in BC youth prisons, by displacing girls hundreds of kilometers from their home communities and subjecting them to cruel and inhumane conditions of confinement.
Our organizations are alarmed that the government is promoting this breach of girls’ human rights as an “enhancement” of youth custody services. In practice, this change will mean the following, at a minimum, for girls: further dislocation from family and community for extended periods of time hundreds of kilometers away, affecting Aboriginal teenage girls and their families in central/northern B.C. in particular; inhumane treatment through extended transportation, in shackles, with Sheriff escorts, for hundreds of kilometers and a drive of a minimum of 11 hours from Prince George to Burnaby in sheriff vans; extended detention periods in adult police lockups as girls wait longer for transportation to the centralized Burnaby youth prison, increasing girls’ exposure to adult male prisoners and guards.