matsqui institution

Matsqui Institution

Matsqui Institution is a federal medium-security prison located in Abbotsford, British Columbia. Opened in 1966, it operates under Correctional Service of Canada to house male inmates. With a capacity of 446 inmates, Matsqui plays an important role in the federal correctional system.

Location and Opening

Situated approximately 70 kilometers east of Vancouver, Matsqui Institution began operations in 1966. The initial buildings and infrastructure allowed it to serve as a key federal prison in British Columbia.

Operated By

As a federal prison, Matsqui falls under the jurisdiction of Correctional Service of Canada. Rules, regulations, and standards are set at the federal level by CSC.

Security Classification

Matsqui houses medium security male offenders. This means it incarcerates those with sentences under 10 years who pose low to moderate risk as assessed by CSC.

Institution Design and Layout

The main accommodations are provided in a 3-story living unit with a central core containing security stations. This allows convenient monitoring and control of inmate movements and activities.

Units and Accommodations

Inmates are housed in 96-bed living units that contain necessities like bunks, lockers, shower facilities and common areas. Recent expansions added space, including opening a new unit in 2013.

See also  Kent Institution

Programs Offered

Matsqui offers adult basic education, vocational training, substance abuse programs and initiatives tailored specifically to the needs of Indigenous peoples.

Recent Expansions

To increase capacity, new construction has taken place over the years. Most recently in 2013, an additional 96-bed unit was opened to house more inmates.

Inmate Gender and Security Level

As a medium security institution, Matsqui houses male offenders serving sentences under 10 years who pose a low to moderate security risk.

Average Sentence Lengths

The average lengths of sentences being served are:

  • 31% have less than 40 month sentences
  • 50% have over 40 month sentences
  • 19% have life sentences

This demonstrates Matsqui incarcerates those convicted of serious crimes necessitating sentences over 3 years, life included.

1981 Riot

In June 1981, Matsqui experienced a major riot where 300 inmates seized control, causing extensive damage.

Damage and Heroism

Inmates torched 7 buildings, resulting in millions in property damage. Corporal Patrick McBride rescued 8 staff from a burning roof, earning prestigious honors for his selfless heroism.

2005 Lockdown and Search

In January 2005, a thorough investigation of the facility revealed contraband ranging from drugs to weapons and cell phones. Information indicating potential escape plans also surfaced.

2008 Inmate Stabbing

An inmate stabbing occurred in August 2008. The victim required emergency air transport to a hospital for treatment of the stab wounds.

2008 Major Disturbance

2008 saw a sizeable uprising in January where around 170 inmates lit fires and damaged property in the prison yard before an emergency tactical team regained control.

2009 Drug Overdoses

There were multiple near-fatal overdoses in December 2009 requiring emergency medical care to save the inmates’ lives.

See also  Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre

Contraband Issues

Matsqui has dealt with periodic contraband drops into the facility. Items like tobacco, cell phones, drugs and crude weapons continue to be smuggled in.

Inmate Assaults and Death

Violence causing injuries to inmates occurs frequently. An inmate murder took place in September 2011 when one convict died at an outside hospital.

Management and Staff

Overseeing operations at Matsqui Institution are Warden Bobbi Sandhu and Deputy Warden Jennifer Capricci. The facility employs approximately 313 staff members spanning administrative, security and programs roles.


As one of several medium security prisons in the Correctional Service of Canada system, Matsqui Institution plays an important role. Despite challenges like contraband smuggling and inmate violence, it aims to safely incarcerate convicts and provide opportunities for rehabilitation. Moving forward, additional expansions will likely occur to increase capacity needs.


What is Matsqui Institution?

Matsqui Institution is a medium security federal prison operated by Correctional Service of Canada. Opened in 1966 near Abbotsford, BC, it houses male inmates serving sentences under 10 years.

What was the 1981 riot about at Matsqui?

In 1981, 300 inmates seized control of Matsqui Institution. They torched 7 buildings and caused millions in damages before authorities regained control. A courageous guard, Patrick McBride, earned recognition for heroically rescuing trapped staff.

How many inmate deaths have there been at Matsqui?

While periodic violence causes injuries, only one homicide has officially occurred – the murder of an inmate in September 2011. Others have narrowly survived incidents like stabbings.

What is the capacity of Matsqui Institution?

See also  Edmonton Remand Centre

The current capacity is 446 inmates housed in living units equipped with necessities like bunks and common areas. Expansions have increased capacity over time, like the 96 beds added by a new unit in 2013.

How much contraband gets into Matsqui?

Contraband remains an issue, with items like drugs, crude weapons, cell phones and tobacco periodically discovered inside. Smuggling channels like aerial drops over fences enable inmates to access unauthorized articles.

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