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Resource Manual

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Chapter 1 - The CAC History, Values, Mission and Goals

The CAC History

Since their inception in 1965, Citizen Advisory Committeess (CACs) have reflected the interest of citizens in contributing to the quality of the federal correctional services and programs. Citizens started to be involved in the correctional process in the early 1960s, when some federal institutions established citizen committees to deal with specific problems. At the same time, under Commissioner Allan McLeod (1960-1970), a Commissioner's Directive (CD) called for more citizen involvement in the form of CACs. The first institutions to establish committees were Beaver Creek Correctional Camp in Ontario, Saskatchewan Penitentiary and Matsqui Institution in British Columbia. CACs began to function as a national organization with the release of the Report to Parliament by the Sub-Committee on the Penitentiary System in Canada (the MacGuigan Report) in 1977. The report, which came on the heels of several serious prison disturbances, stated the need for community representatives who could monitor and evaluate correctional policies and procedures. Recommendation #49 sought the establishment of CACs in all penal institutions, noting that correctional agencies traditionally operated in isolation and that the public had never been well informed about corrections or the criminal justice system.

The report outlined ways in which CACs could be of value to the correctional system:

"Citizen Advisory Committeess, if properly structured, can provide a real service to the Canadian Penitentiary Service [now the Correctional Service of Canada] in terms of informing the public about the realities of prison life and informing the Service itself as to its shortcomings. [...] Briefly, the Citizen Advisory Committees is to assist the director of each institution in planning programs inside and outside the penitentiary. The Committee is to consult with senior staff and Inmate Committees to help the Director with respect to the extent and the nature of the activities needed." MacGuigan Report, 1977, p. 124, 126.

The first national CAC conference was held in Ottawa in 1978. The first National Executive was formed in 1979 in response to the need for a national plan that would have a strong impact at all levels of the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC). At the third national conference in 1980, representatives from the five CSC regions set up a national organization and constitution containing the first statement of principles and clear objectives for CACs. Since the introduction of the Mission of the Correctional Service of Canada in 1989, CACs and CSC have been strengthening their partnership. This affiliation was further enhanced through the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (1992), which refers to the ".involvement of members of the public in matters relating to the operation of the Correctional Service." In October 2000, the Government accepted the recommendation of the Subcommittee on the Corrections and Conditional Release Act that each institution and parole office will be supported by a Citizen Advisory Committees from the local community.

In August 1998, CACs were identified as an international "Best Practice" when the program was honoured with the American Correctional Association's (ACA) Chapter Award in the Public Information Category for Best Practices and Excellence in Corrections. The Chapter Award is the highest level of the ACA Awards categories. In January 2000, the Privy Council Office recognized Citizen Advisory Committeess as a Canadian Public Service Best Practice. In May 2000, the International Association for Public Participation awarded the Correctional Service of Canada the "Organization of the Year" Award in the area of public participation due, in a great part, to its Citizen Advisory Committeess program.

Over the years, Citizen Advisory Committeess have contributed significantly to the quality of the correctional system as well as enabling the Correctional Service of Canada to operate in an open and effective manner. The role and importance of CACs in the Canadian Correctional System continues to grow and expand. With the support of citizens and the Service, CACs will continue to make a valuable contribution to the safety of Canadians.


The CAC Values

Understanding our Values

The CAC values are the fundamental principles and beliefs that form the foundation of the Citizen Advisory Committees organization. Our values must be clearly understood, shared and accepted by all members. These values provide the essence of our organization's message and accountability to our members, and to the people we serve.

CAC Values

We believe that the protection of society must be the paramount consideration in the corrections process.

We respect the dignity of individuals, the rights of all members of society, and the potential for human growth and development.

We believe in the right of all citizens to become informed participants in the correctional process.

We believe that offenders have the potential to live as law-abiding citizens.

We believe that the community has a responsibility to facilitate the reintegration of the offender into society.

We believe that the effective operation of all Citizen Advisory Committeess throughout Canada is essential in managing the Correctional Service of Canada with openness and integrity.


The CAC Mission

The CAC Mission Statement

Citizen Advisory Committeess, through voluntary participation in the Canadian federal correctional process, contribute to the protection of society by actively interacting with staff of the Correctional Service of Canada, the public and offenders, providing impartial advice and recommendations, thereby contributing to the quality of the correctional process.

Understanding the CAC Mission

This Mission statement is the precise and agreed-upon statement that encapsulates the reason for our existence. It describes our function - our primary thrust. It is the public description of what we are all about. But it goes well beyond that. This Mission identifies the common purpose and commitment each of us is called upon to take on as a member of this organization.

The CAC Mission describes not simply what we are, but also, what we seek to become, what we believe we can achieve together. Its purpose is to serve as a guide for establishing our priorities and progressing in our work. It is to provide a clear sense of direction to each member of each Citizen Advisory Committees, and to enable each of us to understand better how our participation contributes to the achievement of our common goals and objectives.

Our ability to fulfil this Mission will affect the quality of the federal correctional process, and life in our society. The CAC Mission, therefore, merits the commitment of each one of us, joined together in a common and worthy purpose.

It is important that all CAC members, and those we serve, clearly understand each aspect of the CAC Mission. The following helps clarify the key terms in CAC Mission.


We believe in the right of all citizens to become informed participants in the correctional process, contributing to the quality of the process and of the decisions made within it.

Citizen Advisory Committeess have the responsibilities of representing the views of the community and contributing to the public's understanding of the correctional process. We do that, in part, by representing a cross-section of the community, and being informed participants in the correctional process. We should also realize that to be effective, the values that guide our actions should be consistent with those of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.

Public safety, access to needed services, security, justice, fairness, and the rights, freedoms and responsibilities of citizenship are some of the fundamental social values which we seek to promote, be they related to offenders in the correctional system or citizens in our communities.


Citizen Advisory Committeess provide objective, impartial, and timely advice on issues related to the federal correctional process and its impact on the community. This is our principal instrument of influence within the correctional system and in our communities.

As is stressed in so many other sections of this manual, we must constantly seek a balance between the safety and protection of society, and the rights and freedoms of the individual. This requires a commitment to the values listed above and to the personal dignity of the individual. It also requires that we be sensitive to the continuing evolution of Canadian society.


An effective Citizen Advisory Committees is one that focuses on values and vision - all members working together toward advancing the Mission of our system. Committees are used for decision-making, sharing information and providing face-to-face interaction among our members.

Working as a team is an important aspect of CAC work. This means taking pride in the integrity, commitment, knowledge and skills that each member brings toward achieving the objectives of the Citizen Advisory Committees. This collective professionalism will earn and retain the confidence and respect of the Correctional Service of Canada and the general community.

The regional and national executive committees of the CAC system are mandated to help local CACs' work with commonality of purpose. They will support and encourage all kinds of creative approaches to our work but will seek to ensure that the fundamental principles embodied in our mission and goals continue to be the central guiding force for CACs throughout the country.

True autonomy also involves risk-taking. CAC members should feel supported to take important stands that could seem to be unpopular. Committee members should always be encouraged to think independently, to be faithful to their own ideas, and to act with integrity.


Issues affecting the safety of the public, justice, and the rights and freedoms of individuals are of great interest to all. We must constantly be aware of, and seek a balance between these issues. We must be viewed as being impartial by all those concerned, namely the correctional staff, the public, and offenders. Our only bias is our dedication to advancing the quality of our correctional service for the benefit of Canadians.


The CAC Goals

Understanding our Goals

Every individual CAC throughout Canada is responsible for planning the specifics its own work but every committee across the country strives towards the same goals and objectives broadly described in our mission statement. These goals provide guidance for today, and a focus for meeting the challenges of tomorrow.

Our Six Goals

  1. To contribute to the overall development of correctional facilities and programs by serving as impartial advisors to the facility's management, staff and offenders;
  2. To promote public knowledge and understanding of corrections through communication among offenders, CSC staff and the public;
  3. To foster public participation in the correctional process;
  4. To participate in developing community resources designed to support correctional programs;
  5. To act as impartial observers, particularly during times of crisis;
  6. To positively contribute in the development and implementation of new policies and programs through meaningful consultation.