Report on the needs of Families of Offenders

A report on the needs of families of offenders was issued by the Canadian Families and Corrections Network (CFCN). It has been used by the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) to help improve the interaction between offenders and their families, and thereby improve the safety of the incarceration and the eventual reintegration of offenders.

Positive family interaction has been identified by the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) as one of the prime factors in the successful reintegration of offenders.

"Family is one of the dynamic factors that CSC has identified as contributing to a successful reintegration, together with factors like employment, addictions issues and others," says Reverend Christina Guest at CSC's National Headquarters in Ottawa.

"Family can be an asset," she adds, "both to the smoother serving of a sentence while incarcerated and to successful reintegration back into our communities."

Report Done with Support of the Government of Canada Voluntary Sector Initiative and CSC

With a grant from the Voluntary Sector Initiative and the sponsorship of the Chaplaincy Branch of CSC, extensive public consultations were held by the CFCN, a non-profit Canadian organization made up of individuals and local, regional and national organizations who believe in the importance of families in the Canadian criminal justice process.

The CFCN asked families and community agencies that work with families of offenders what issues they face in maintaining contact with a family member serving a sentence, and what would help address those issues. Their study examined what programs are currently in place, what programs are needed and under whose jurisdiction each of those issues fall.

"As families are a community contact and they can have a positive role in the successful reintegration of offenders, CSC does have contact with them and can make relationship maintenance possible. But when it comes to providing support to families, CSC cannot always responsible for all the issues that arise," says Rev. Guest, pointing out that provincial, municipal and volunteer groups help provide many of the services needed.

The CFCN report made 51 recommendations to improve the interaction families must have with all levels of government.

The report is based on input from 14 town hall meetings that were held all across Canada over an 18-month period. This first round of meetings was used to develop the recommendations that were then presented to community organizations and interested parties in a second round of consultations.

"There was very broad-based community input," says Rev. Guest. "The Report covers everything, from who should be responsible and from global organizational things to specific organizational things that need to be shaped at the institutional level."

The report can be accessed through the CFCN web site at http://www.cfcn-rcafd.org/text/EngConsultation.PDF.