William Head Institution
William Head Institution has a long and unique history that has shaped its status today as a progressive minimum-security correctional facility for men. Nestled along the scenic shoreline of Metchosin, British Columbia, the grounds of William Head have served varied purposes over the past century.
Functioning as a Quarantine Station (1883-1958)
The land where William Head Prison currently sits operated for over 70 years as a quarantine station for screening and isolating immigrants and travelers entering Canada through the west coast. Opened in 1883, the William Head Quarantine Station was a vital piece of infrastructure at a time when infectious diseases posed major public health threats. Ships from around the world would stop at William Head, where passengers and cargo underwent a cleansing and disinfection process before permission to enter the country was granted…
Transition to a Correctional Facility
In 1959, William Head Quarantine Station officially closed and the site was converted for use as a minimum-security federal penitentiary. Renamed William Head Institution, the prison would accommodate up to 200 inmates upon opening…
Opening and Early Years as a Prison (1959-1970s)
William Head Institution began receiving prisoners in 1959. Most inmates housed at William Head in the early years were serving short sentences for non-violent crimes or parole violations…
Modern Era and Current Operations
Today, some six decades after first opening its doors as a corrections complex, William Head Institution operates very differently than during its nascent years. With a focus on progressive programming and a unique neighborhood layout, William Head provides extensive rehabilitation services even as the complexity of its inmate population has increased.
Prison Design and Layout
Unlike traditional prison designs with rows of cells enclosing outdoor yards, William Head was conceived as a residential community…
William Head consists of five separate neighborhoods, each formed by four duplex-style cottage units surrounding a shared green space for communal activities. The neighborhoods are self-contained mini communities, with the housing clusters, activity centers, and dining halls functioning semi-autonomously from the wider institution. This setup allows inmates to form bonds within their smaller groups…
Housing and Accommodations
The duplex cottages provide comfortable living quarters for inmates at William Head. Each side of a duplex contains…
Inmate Demographics and Statistics
William Head has a maximum capacity of 200 prisoners, though recent populations have hovered closer to 125 inmates at any given time. According to statistics provided by Correctional Services Canada in March 2023…
Security Classification and Sentence Lengths
As a minimum-security facility, William Head cannot house violent offenders or inmates with histories of escape attempts. Based on March 2023 data, over half the inmates have life sentences, around 30% are serving sentences 3 years or longer, and roughly 15% have less than 3 years remaining on their sentences…
Education and Rehabilitation Programming
In keeping with its rehabilitative mission, William Head Institution offers inmates a slate of programs to further their education, learn new skills, and prepare for re-entry into society. Academic schooling, vocational courses, life skills training, and more are accessible to prisoners at no cost.
Inmates can complete high school diplomas and pursue post-secondary education like college degrees while incarcerated at William Head…
Hands-on trade skills are taught through various vocational workshops at William Head…
Life Skills Classes
Programs assisting in the transition back into communities cover practical areas like financial literacy, job hunting, housing, and interpersonal relationships…
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For over 60 years, William Head Institution has been transforming lives by providing constructive environments and meaningful programming for inmates to develop themselves. Though not without growing pains, William Head continues to evolve its rehabilitation-focused model and position inmates for success. With strong community connections through history and supportive partnerships, the future looks bright for this unique island-based minimum-security facility.
Q: How many inmates live at William Head currently?
A: William Head has a capacity for 200 inmates but usually averages closer to 125 prisoners at a time based on recent figures.
Q: What security level is it classified as?
A: As a minimum-security facility, William Head houses the lowest risk and least violent offender categories in the Canadian correctional system.
Q: What industry programs are offered to inmates?
A: Vocational training in areas like automotive, carpentry, plumbing, cooking, and gardening provides hands-on trade skills. Inmates can also get food safety and WHMIS certifications.
Q: Do inmates have access to education at William Head?
A: Yes, academic programming includes adult high school completion as well as post-secondary courses at the college and university level in some cases.
Q: How can you visit an inmate at William Head Institution?
A: Family and friends can visit prisoners on Thursdays, Fridays and weekends based on a designated schedule provided to inmates. Special permissions are required.