Audit of the Release Process

Internal Audit Report

378-1-278

November 13, 2012

Table of Contents

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Background

In accordance with Correctional Service of Canada's (CSC) 2007-2008 Internal Audit Plan, the Internal Audit Branch conducted a Preliminary Survey of Institutional Case Management and produced a report in April 2008. Following this survey, a series of audits were conducted that covered the whole case management cycle. The audits were:

  • Offender Intake Assessment, completed in April 2009.
  • Institution Supervision Framework, completed in September 2010.
  • Pre-release Decision Making within the Case Preparation and Release Framework, completed in December 2010, and
  • Detention, to be completed in the fall of 2012.

The audit of the release process was the last of the Case Management cycle audits and was part of the 2011-2014 Risk-Based Audit Plan. This audit links to a number of CSC's corporate priorities. These include "Safe transition to and management of eligible offenders in the community", "Safety and security of staff and offenders in our institutions and in the community and "Productive relationships with increasingly diverse partners, stakeholders, and others involved in public safety".

The audit is material as transitioning offenders in the community and helping them reintegrate into society encompasses daily activities completed within the institution as well as outside into the community and is the essence of CSC's Mission. In 2012-2013, CSC has planned to spend $733 million on correctional interventions and community supervision related activities out of a budget of approximately $3 billion.

The objectives of this audit were to:

  • assess the adequacy and effectiveness of the processes in place as they relate to release, and
  • determine the extent to which CSC sites are in compliance with relevant legislation and policy directives.

Specific criteria related to each of the objectives are included in Annex A.

The audit included a review of various processes, including: release certificates, warrant expiry releases and packages, police and victim notification, and provision of adequate resources and documentation to offenders upon release.

The audit assessed compliance with legislation and CSC policies. The audit was national in scope and covered security institutions in all five regions. A sample of release files from fiscal year 2010-11 was tested.

Conclusion

Overall, processes were in place to ensure adequate and effective release of offenders, and CSC staff was generally aware of the processes. Staff interviewed believed that release conditions, community strategy, program referrals and expectations while under supervision were well explained to offenders and understood by them.

However, although processes were generally known, they were not always being followed. There is still room for improvements in the area of stakeholders' notification. Also, lack of good documentation practices in some regional offices resulted in missing key information on file, thus not always providing confirmation that processes were followed as intended.

Overall, CSC was complying with CSC policy requirements when managing offenders' release. Warrant Expiry Date (WED) packages for offenders that may pose a threat to the community when released at warrant expiry were all prepared, certificates of release were prepared for all offenders and most were shared with the police. Staff believed that there was a process in place to provide offenders with required resources, but they did not see this as being done consistently. Outstanding warrants of arrest were always verified prior to release.

Although there were processes in place, there is still room for improvement in several areas.

  • Several gaps in the communication between Institutional Parole Officers (IPOs) and Community Parole Officers (CPOs) with respect to completeness and timeliness of communications need to be filled.
  • Completeness and timeliness of distribution of WED packages to stakeholders, including the police, need to be enhanced. Packages are not always shared with offenders.
  • Although all prepared, the timeliness of Certificate of Release needs to be improved. In addition, the Certificate should always list the same conditions of release as those listed in the offender's file.
  • Improving documentation of both electronic and paper copy of offender files is required.

CSC policy, including CD 712-4 on the release process, has been updated as of June 13, 2012. In its new version, roles and responsibilities have been clarified. This should help in ensuring that notification of key stakeholders is done and documented in a more consistent manner.

Office of Primary Interest Response

The Correctional Operations and Programs Sector agrees with the audit findings and the recommendations as presented in the report. We have prepared a detailed action plan to address the issues raised in the audit. More details on the actions to be taken have been provided for each recommendation. All actions to address recommendations are to be implemented by May 2014. It is important to note that, as a results of the Deficit Reduction Action Plan, the Correctional Operations and Programs Sector is currently reviewing Institutional Parole Officer responsibilities with a view to identifying efficiencies through eliminating duties that do not contribute to the correctional process. At this time, these activities are not viewed as impacting the implementation of the recommendations within this audit. Nonetheless, Correctional Operations and Program Sector will monitor the impact of DRAP on institutional case management activities and update the Audit Committee accordingly as a regular part of the MAP review process.

STATEMENT OF ASSURANCE AND CONFORMANCE

This engagement was conducted at a high level of assurance. i

In my professional judgment as Chief Audit Executive, sufficient and appropriate audit procedures have been conducted and evidence gathered to support the accuracy of the opinion provided and contained in this report. The opinion is based on a comparison of the conditions, as they existed at the time, against pre-established audit criteria that were agreed on with management. The opinion is applicable only to the area examined.

The audit conforms to the Internal Auditing Standards for Government of Canada, as supported by the results of the quality assurance and improvement program. The evidence gathered was sufficient to provide senior management with proof of the opinion derived from the internal audit.

__________________________________ Date: __________________
Sylvie Soucy, CIA
Chief Audit Executive

1.0 INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background

The Audit of the Release Process was conducted as part of Correctional Service Canada's (CSC) Internal Audit Plan 2011-2014 Risk-Based Audit Plan. This audit links to a number of CSC's corporate priorities. These include "Safe transition to and management of eligible offenders in the community", "Safety and security of staff and offenders in our institutions and in the community and "Productive relationships with increasingly diverse partners, stakeholders, and others involved in public safety."

The audit is material as transitioning offenders in the community and helping them reintegrate into society encompasses daily activities completed within the institution as well as outside into the community and is the essence of CSC's Mission. In 2012-2013, CSC has planned to spend $733 million on correctional interventions and community supervision related activities out of a budget of over $3billion.

1.2 Audit of the Release Process as part of the Case Management cycle

In accordance with Correctional Service of Canada's (CSC) 2007-2008 Internal Audit Plan, the Internal Audit Branch conducted a Preliminary Survey of Institutional Case Management in April 2008.

The scope of the preliminary survey was guided by the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA), Corrections and Conditional Release Regulations (CCRR) and relevant Commissioner's Directives (CD). Its focus was on documenting the key processes that support effective case management, and to document and assess the risk to which CSC is exposed for each of the key elements. The identification of key controls expected to be in place to manage these risks was also an important element of the survey.

Based on the survey, several audits took place to cover all aspects of the case management process. The first audit covered Offender Intake Assessment (April 2009). The audit of Institutional Supervision Framework followed (September 2010). Pre-release Decision Making within the Case Preparation and Release Framework was completed in December 2010. The last component of the Case Management process to be audited touches upon the Detention and Release processes. The audit of Detention Process is in its examination phase and Release is covered by this report.

1.2.1 Previous Audits

For the completed audits, the common objectives were to assess the adequacy of the management framework and to determine the extent to which CSC's sites were complying with relevant legislation and policy directives.

Offender Intake Assessment:

This audit found that key elements of a management framework were in place and that legislative requirements were being met in most cases. Policies existed, roles and responsibilities were clearly defined and understood, resources were in place at the local, regional and national levels and, some monitoring and reporting activities were in place. In terms of compliance, the audit found that legal requirements related to the preparation of a Correctional Plan and to the assignment of a security classification were met. However, in some cases, there was no documented evidence that some factors listed under the regulations for the security classification were considered. The offender file review performed by the auditors also identified some concerns with compliance in certain policy areas.

Institution Supervision Framework:

This audit indicated that key elements of a management framework were in place and that legislative requirements were being met. There was a high level of support and awareness of the policies relevant to the institutional supervision framework, and guidelines were in place, which assisted case management staff in preparing reports. Opportunities for improvement were identified by the audit in areas like compliance with legislation and policies.

Pre-release Decision Making within the Case Preparation and Release Framework:

This audit found that policies were consistent with legislation, roles and responsibilities were clearly understood, with the noted exception of the Aboriginal Liaison Officers, there was no national monitoring system in place, proper monitoring was not being done, and documentation was completed in most cases, although key documents were sometimes not completed.

For all audits above, Management Action Plans were prepared to address identified weaknesses.

1.2.2 Detention Process

The audit on detention is presently in its fieldwork phase and should be completed in the fall of 2012. The objectives of this audit are to provide reasonable assurance that the management framework supports the detention review process, that efficient processes are in place at site level and that CSC is in compliance with relevant legislation and policy directives related to the detention review process.

1.2.3 Release Process

The process regarding the release of an offender is mostly similar for day parole, full parole or statutory release. The type of release and the associated special conditions that would be granted / imposed to an offender is determined by the Parole Board of Canada. This process is part of the pre-release process covered in a previous audit. Here are some of the most important areas that need to be covered when the release process is undertaken.

The Institutional Parole Officer (IPO) starts planning the release of the offender by considering the offender release plan and the offenders various needs. For example, the need for accompaniment on the day of release is considered and granted by the Warden on recommendation of the case management team. Need for physical or mental health care in the community is taken into consideration and appropriate referrals are made by the institutional health service and/or discharge planner. If required, the IPO considers an Early Discretionary release to avoid having a release close to a weekend.

Two weeks prior to the release date, the IPO responsible for the offender needs to have an exchange of information with the Community Parole Officer (CPO) assigned to the case to discuss the release plan and the offender's situation/needs. Elements listed in Annex C of CD 712-4 (Content Guidelines for Casework Record-Pre-release to record teleconference between institutional and community parole officers) must be covered during this exchange. The IPO is then responsible for documenting that exchange of information in OMS through a Casework Record, Pre-release review.

On their end, Sentence Management has to conduct a check for outstanding warrants just prior to the release.

The offender must be made aware of any special conditions, reporting instructions, consequences resulting from breaches in conditions and be given a copy of and sign his/her release certificate. This can only be finalized once the IPO has received the PBC final decision. Release certificate must accurately reflect all details of the PBC decision, including dates and conditions. For statutory releases, the offender's confirmed release date and the latest sentence calculation will be verified by Sentence Management. On the day of release, the certificate in OMS has to be set to "Ready to Transmit" and once the certificate has been sent to the police, the status automatically changes to "Transmitted". If it is impossible to notify police via OMS, another means needs to be used to do so. Registered victims need to be contacted 5 days prior to the release or as soon as practical by RHQ's victim's officer.

The supervising office has to be contacted by the institution confirming the time the offender was released, the mode of transportation being used, and the estimated time of arrival.

If the offender fails to arrive at his/her release destination within a reasonable period of time, a suspension warrant will be issued and the police notified.

If the offender is flagged as a High Profile Offender, Regional Administrators, Reintegration and Correctional Programs, and Communications, are advised of the upcoming release and they are consulted about the preparation of a strategy and action plan if it is determined the release is likely to generate significant public interest. The IPO has to prepare a High Profile Memo at least 2 weeks prior to the release including a list of pre-determined key information. An email needs to be sent to a list of key persons at RHQ and NHQ alerting them of the completion of the Memo.

In the cases where an offender is detained and released only at his warrant expiry date, the process differs.

Since offenders will not be supervised after their warrant expires, no supervision plan needs to be put in place with the community and the institution does not need to prepare a release certificate. That being said, a review will take place 120 days prior to expiry of sentence to assess whether or not there are reasonable grounds to believe that the offender poses a threat to the safety of any person in the community. If so, CSC will share the information with the police 90 days prior to the offender's warrant expiry date. An exhaustive list of information and documents needs to be communicated at that point. The IPO will ensure that the offender has copies of the reports contained in the proposed release package and that the offender can comment on the contents of the information package on a form for that effect. The package approved by the warden is sent to the relevant area parole office who is responsible to share it with the police force.

2.0 AUDIT OBJECTIVES AND SCOPE

2.1 Audit Objectives

The audit objectives were:

  • assess the adequacy and effectiveness of the processes in place as they relate to release, and
  • determine the extent to which CSC sites are in compliance with relevant legislation and policy directives.

Specific criteria related to each of the objectives are included in Annex A.

2.2 Audit Scope

The audit was conducted based on the following policies:

  • CD 712-4 Release Process;
  • CD 712 Case Preparation and Release Framework;
  • CM Bulletin August 3, 2004 High Profile Offenders;
  • CM Bulletin February 13, 2004 Release Plan;
  • CM Bulletin July 6, 2004 WED Release Procedures;
  • CM Bulletin July 20, 2001 Stat Release Residency;
  • CM Bulletin June 2004 LTSO;
  • CM Bulletin November 7, 2007 Victims Considerations.

As part of the audit, the following key processes were examined to ensure all required steps were being followed:

  • Statutory releases;
  • release of high profile offenders;
  • police notification;
  • victim notification;
  • pre-release teleconference between institutional and community parole officers;
  • warrant expiry releases and packages;
  • exchange of information with the PBC;
  • release certificates;
  • referrals to available community resources;
  • accompaniment; and
  • provision of adequate resources and documentation to offenders upon release.

The audit also assessed compliance with legislation and CSC policies.

The audit was national in scope and included interviews at National Headquarters and visits to maximum, medium and minimum security institutions in all five regions. Interviews with Community Parole Officers and Parole Officer Supervisors in the community took place in all five regions. Some police officers were also interviewed in some regions.

A sample of release files selected from April 2010 through March 2011 was tested. This sample included all types of release, including warrant expiry dates (WED). WED packages were also reviewed for existence and completeness in regional offices archives.

Several areas were deemed outside the scope of this audit. They are listed under Annex C with the rationale as to why they were not considered to be part of this audit.

3.0 AUDIT APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY

Audit evidence was gathered through a number of techniques as follows:

Interviews: Interviews were conducted with Wardens, Parole Officer Supervisors, Institutional and Community Parole Officers, Assistant Wardens Interventions, Managers Assessment and Interventions and Sentence Management. Police officers were also interviewed in some regions.

Review of Documentation: Relevant documentation such as offender files contained in the Offender Management System (OMS), Commissioner's Directives, Corrections and Conditional Release Act, Correctional and Conditional Release Regulations, process documentation, procedure manuals. Additionally, warrant expiry packages were reviewed in each region.

Testing: Testing was conducted to determine if sufficient and corroborating evidence exists and supports the Release Process. A sample of 366 offender files was tested for compliance. This sample included all types of release, including WED. The file review was conducted by selecting a stratified and representative sample of both conditional and legislated releases (including Accelerated Parole Reviews, Day Parole, Full Parole, Statutory Release and WED).

Analytical Review: An analytical review of documentation, interview and testing results was conducted throughout the audit in order to determine trends and compliance.

The period of coverage for this audit was fiscal year 2010-11, which was the last completed fiscal year available.

4.0 AUDIT FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

4.1 Adequacy and effectiveness of the processes in place

We assessed the adequacy and effectiveness of the processes in place for the notification of stakeholders of the release of offenders, including high profile offenders. This included a review of policies and directives, interviews and audit tests and analysis of a selected sample of offender files.

4.1.1 Identification of high profile offenders

We expected to find that processes were in place to manage and control the release of high profile offenders.

A process was in place to manage and control the release of high profile offenders (HPO). However this process was not always being followed.

A high profile offender (HPO) is someone who is likely to generate significant public interest and/or to attract high media attention upon release. This may be as a result of either the crime that has been committed or the notoriety of the person. The process in place consists of determining if a HPO about to be released is likely to attract this high level of attention. When this is the case, a HPO memo to file needs to be created and sent to various stakeholders, using a distribution list.

Our audit found that the HPO memo was not created in all cases. Our file review indicated that it was not done in 33% of the files selected (19/58). The audit was unable to determine if this was due to the fact that HPO being released were not going to generate significant public attention, as this assessment was not always clearly documented. When the memo was created, it was done at least two weeks prior to the release of the offender in 80% of cases (31/39) as required by policy. The audit was unable to determine if or why the other eight files were late, because of the lack of proper documentation on file.

In CSC's CD 701 Information Sharing, there is a list of the elements that should be included in the memo. The HPO memos that we reviewed did not always include all the elements specified in the policy. Our tests indicated that 46% of the memos (18/39) were incomplete. Some of the key information missing was the community dynamics (14/39), the classification history (10/39), a confirmation that the memo was completed at least two weeks prior to release (8/39) and the concerns of interested parties (7/39).

If key stakeholders, such as the supervising office, are not advised that a HPO is about to be released and is likely to generate significant media attention, it could negatively impact the offender's reintegration into the community, as both CSC and the offender may be unprepared to face high media and/or public attention.

Good Practices

  • In the Prairies region, a list of HPO was prepared and kept up to date and made available to all Institutional Parole Officers (IPO), Managers, Assessment and Intervention (MAI) and Wardens for their use and information. This ensures all HPO are assessed for significant media attention prior to their release.
  • In Pacific, strategic plans for the release of HPO were recorded in a casework record in the Offender Management System (OMS). This allows this information to be made available to all parties concerned.

4.1.2 Transition into the community

We expected to find that processes were in place to ensure released offenders were provided all key information and documentation upon release into the community.

According to the staff interviewed, reporting instructions and release conditions were explained to offenders. The community strategy, program referrals and expectations while under supervision, were also explained to offenders.

Amongst CSC staff interviewed, 96% (24/25) indicated that reporting instructions and release conditions were explained to offenders prior to release. 100% of staff interviewed (24/24) indicated that the community strategy, program referrals and expectations while under supervision were also explained to offenders when they were being released.

Appropriate explanation of release conditions and expectations allows the offenders to know what is required of them during their period of supervision. It helps decreasing the tension and stress related to the fear of the unknown, therefore improving chances of successful release. It is also a forum to explain the process in place in case of breaches and the possible consequences.

4.1.3 Notification of key stakeholders

We expected to find that processes were in place to ensure all key stakeholders were notified of the release of an offender. For the purpose of this audit, we focused on the victims, the police and the supervising office.

There was a process in place for the notification of the release of an offender and stakeholders were notified. However, the process was not consistent throughout the CSC and it was not always clear who was responsible to manage it.

For the victims notification, the process was clear to a majority of staff interviewed. In most instances, a member of the Case Management team (mostly IPO or MAI) was responsible to notify the regional victim's officer of the upcoming releases of their offenders. The victims officer was then responsible to notify the victims.

With respect to police notification, 76% of CSC staff interviewed indicated that there was a process in place to ensure police is notified of the release of an offender. However, it was not always clear who was responsible to do so. Interviews showed that the responsibility varied from one institution to the other between the IPO, Sentence Management, the CPO and the Case Management Team (CMT) administrative staff. Documentation of the police notification occurred in various places including OMS, Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC), Casework Records, Case Management files and community strategies. The respondents did not indicate a common location to document the police notification and different means of communication were also used.

As far as supervising offices are concerned, CD 712-4 required that the institution advised the supervising office on the day of the release to inform them of the release time, the mode of transportation and expected time of arrival. When there was a formal process in place in an institution to notify the supervising office on the day of release, responsibility for it also varied between the IPO, sentence management, admission and discharge or the correctional manager at the front desk.

The notification of the release of an offender to key stakeholders was not always done and when it was, it was not always done in a timely manner.

With regards to victim notification, 95% (110/116) of files reviewed revealed that victims were notified. Five files showed evidence that notification was attempted without success. In one case, we have no evidence that notification was given or even attempted. However, 23% of those victims where notification was either attempted or successful (26/115) were not notified prior to or on the day of release, as required by policy.

Upon the release of an offender, there was a notification status in the Offender Management System (OMS) that needed to be changed to indicate that release had occurred. This operation in OMS allows the local police to automatically receive an electronic copy of the offender's Release Certificate. Our file review showed that in 85% of the cases examined (258/304), the notification status of the release certificate was changed in OMS, as required by policy, leaving 46 files not transmitted to police at the time of the audit.

For supervising offices, interviews revealed that they were not always notified of offenders released. Some institutions consistently did it; however, others only called if something did not go as planned. Community parole officers also confirmed that this varied from one institution to another.

CONCLUSION

Overall, processes were in place to ensure adequate and effective release of offenders, and CSC staff was generally aware of the processes. Staff interviewed believe that release conditions, community strategy, program referrals and expectations while under supervision were well explained to offenders and understood by them.

However, although processes were generally known, they were not always being followed. There is still room for improvements in the area of stakeholders' notification. Also, lack of good documentation practices in some regional offices resulted in missing key information on file, thus not always providing confirmation that processes were followed as intended.

Recommendation 1 1

Regional Deputy Commissioners, supported by strong national guidance, should ensure that HPO assessments prepared upon offenders release are fully documented and that HPO memos are created accordingly.


Office of the Primary Interest Response

We agree. By November 30, 2012, NHQ will issue a bulletin to standardize the process for completion of High Memo Profile, while regions will communicate expectations to staff to ensure that HPO assessments are prepared and fully documented accordingly.

Recommendation 2 2

Regional Deputy Commissioners should ensure that all stakeholders including victims are always notified about offender releases and that it is done in a timely manner.


Office of the Primary Interest Response

We agree. Regions will ensure by January 31, 2013 that all stakeholders including victims are notified as required about offender releases and that it is done in a timely manner.

4.2 Compliance with relevant legislation and policy directives

We assessed the extent to which CSC was compliant with relevant legislation and policy directives related to the release of offenders. This included the examination of the exchange of information and communications between CSC staff and the process surrounding the release of warrant expiry date (WED) offenders and their notification process.

4.2.1 Exchange of information

We expected to find that information and file documentation were exchanged between institutions and community when an offender is released.

The audit found evidence of communication between the Institution Parole Officer (IPO) and the Community Parole Officer (CPO) in 86% of the cases. For the remainder, no evidence of any type of communication was found.

CD-712-4 Release Process requires that the IPO and the CPO exchange information on an offender at least two weeks prior to the release date. This exchange of information was usually to take the form of a teleconference. One hundred and seventy-one of the 279 files reviewed (61.3%) indicated evidence that a teleconference was held. For another 69 files (24.7%), some exchange of information took place in lieu of a teleconference, mainly in the form of a casework record or e-mail exchanges. There were 39 files (14%) for which there was no evidence of any exchange of information between the IPO and the CPO. It is to be noted that the revised policy no longer requires that a teleconference takes place between the IPO and the CPO; however it still requires that they exchange information by any existing means.

In most of the cases where there was an exchange of information between the IPO and the CPO, it did not occur in a timely manner.

When the teleconference took place, it was usually outside of the prescribed timeframes. Our audit tests indicated that at least 66% of teleconferences (113/171) took place 10 days or less prior to the release date, and 75% (128/171) took place 14 days or less prior to the release of the offender. As mentioned above, although the new policy on the Release Process no longer requires that there be a teleconference between the IPO and the CPO, there was and still is a requirement for an exchange of information between POs at least two weeks prior to the release of an offender.

CSC staff indicated that the teleconference was often done at the last minute because no CPO was yet assigned to the case, or the assignation was not known to the IPO. Another reason often cited was that the PBC made last minute decisions regarding release conditions, such as residency conditions, which could have an impact on the location of release.

The exchange of information generally did not cover all of the required elements as per policy.

There is an annex in the CD 712-4 that provides a list of elements that should be discussed during the exchange of information on the upcoming offender's release. An examination of 279 cases revealed that in only 34% of cases (94/279) were all elements of the checklist covered during the exchange of information. In another 20% (56/279) of the files, none of the elements were covered. The other 46% were cases where only some elements were covered. Although the policy states that elements of the Annex C should be covered as applicable, there were several instances where only a limited number of them were actually documented during the exchange of information.

If a complete and adequate exchange of information does not take place between the IPO and the CPO in a timely manner, the supervising office may not have the necessary information to provide required support and proper supervision to the released offender. This may jeopardize the success of the offender's reintegration into the community.

4.2.2 Warrant Expiry Packages

We expected to find that warrant expiry packages for Warrant Expiry Dates (WED) offenders are prepared and distributed as per policy.

WED packages were prepared for all WED offenders. However, most packages did not contain all the required information as per policy.

Eleven (11) months prior to the offender's statutory release date, parole officers will review the offender's case against the detention criteria to determine if the offender should be referred for detention or if he is eligible for statutory release. When an offender is not released at his/her statutory release date (as a result of the PBC ordering detention), he/she may be detained until the end of his/her full sentence. This is referred to as the warrant expiry date (WED). One hundred and twenty (120) days prior to expiry of sentence, a review should take place with the purpose, among other things, of determining if the offender still poses a threat to the community. If this is the case, a WED package is prepared that contains key information on the offender and is sent to the local police for their action.

We reviewed 50 WED files out of 200 in total for the period covered. Four were for offenders that had re-offended and therefore were not considered in our sample, and three for which a package was not prepared as the risk assessment (120 days review) concluded that the offenders did not pose a threat to the community. The remaining 43 files all had a WED package prepared.

Our file review indicated that 58% of WED packages (25/43) did not contain all the required information as per policy. Some of the key missing information included:

  • Information on perceived threat (18/43);
  • Rationale as to why the CSC believed the offender to be dangerous (18/43); and
  • A copy of the PBC decision from the most recent annual detention review (9/43);
  • A photograph of the offender (6/43); and
  • An assessment for decision prepared for the most recent annual detention review (6/43).

WED packages were not always shared with offenders

Policy required that the offender be provided with an opportunity to review the content of the WED package and sign off on it. There is an official form that has been designed for this purpose. Normally, this form is part of the WED package. Our file review found that 34 of the 43 WED packages (79%) had the completed form on file.

There was a discrepancy between regions on how WED packages were prepared.

Our file review indicated that there were inconsistencies in the way WED packages were put together between regions and institutions. The content and the structure of WED packages varied significantly from one region to another. For example, although CD 712-4 under paragraph 93 provided a detailed list of elements of information that should have been contained within the WED packages, some elements were not listed in the body of the CSC form CSC/SCC 1225, such as a summary of past offences, information regarding the perceived threat and an explanation as to why CSC believed the offender to be dangerous. As a result, several institutions created different versions of a WED memo to inform the recipient of those missing elements. Those WED memos were prepared in different ways and using different formats. Their distribution was also inconsistent.

There were inconsistencies in the distribution of roles and responsibilities within institutions and from one region to another regarding the preparation of WED packages. There was no standard in place on how packages should be documented other than the list of elements found in CD 712-4.

Lack of standards and consistency in the preparation of the WED packages may result in key stakeholders receiving poor quality and/or incomplete WED packages and not possessing all the information they need to manage the released offender.

Good Practices

  • The Atlantic Region used a checklist for the review of WED packages, to ensure that packages contained all key documents as per policy.
  • The Québec Region designed a Warrant Expiry Information Form to be used to inform local police of the release of a WED offender, and whether or not the offender was referred to Criminal Code section 810.

4.2.3 Timeliness of notification for WED offenders

We expected to find that notification to the police agencies and of the release of a WED offender was taking place in a timely manner. We also expected to find that WED packages were prepared and sent to police at least 90 days prior to WED, as per policy.

WED packages were not always distributed to all key stakeholders.

Both the previous and the revised CD 712-4 require that CSC share information about WED offenders being released when there are reasonable grounds to believe that the offender still poses a threat to the safety of any person in the community. Policy also stipulated that once approved, this information should be forwarded to the relevant CSC area parole office(s) as well as to the Parole Board of Canada regional office.

Our audit found evidence that WED packages were distributed to the police in 88% of files reviewed (38/43). However, for 35% (15/43) of WED packages reviewed, there was no evidence that they were sent to the relevant area Parole Office, or in 67.4% (27/43) to the PBC. Key stakeholders, like the supervising office or the PBC, may not have all the information they need when an offender is being released. When critical information is not sent to police and other stakeholders concerning the release of offenders at risk of recommitting offenses, there is an increase in the risk to the safety of the population.

Our audit found that less than half of the WED packages issued that we reviewed were shared with the police in a timely manner.

With respect to the timeliness of sending the WED packages to the police, CD 712-4 requires that they be sent to police 90 days prior to the offenders warrant expiry date or as soon as is practicable as stipulated in the subsection 25(3) of the CCRA. During our interviews, 73% of CSC staff felt that there was adequate time for the preparation of and distribution of WED packages. Despite this, our tests conducted on WED packages indicated that the timelines were generally not being followed.

According to our file review, only 42 % (18/43) of the packages were sent to police at least 90 days prior to WED. Another 14% (6/43) of WED packages were not sent to police at least 90 days prior to WED. For the last 44% (19/43) of the files, we were unable to find any evidence as to when the WED packages were sent to the police.

One reason for the poor results is that it was often impossible to find the documentation in the regional archives to demonstrate that WED packages were sent to stakeholders.

Police being notified too late of the release of a WED offender may impact greatly their ability to fulfill their own legal obligations in terms of monitoring offenders under the Criminal Code.

4.2.4 Certificate of Release

We expected to find that certificates of release are prepared and provided to release offenders as per policy.

A Release Certificate was prepared for all released offenders. Most certificates contained all the release conditions as per policy. However, not all certificates had evidence that they were issued prior to release date.

When an offender is released, he/she is provided with a Release Certificate confirming his/her status and listing all the release conditions that apply. The offender must provide the certificate to the police if asked.

We examined 304 offender release files and found that for each one of them, a Release Certificate was prepared. Of the same 304 files, 99% (301/304) had conditions corroborating perfectly with the ones on the Release Certificate. The three remaining files showed some differences between PBC conditions recorded on the Release Certificate and those appearing in the files. In all three cases, not all conditions imposed by the PBC appeared on the Release Certificate. In 85% of files reviewed (258/304) there was evidence that the Release Certificate was transmitted on or prior to the date of release. For the remaining 46 files (15%), there was no evidence in the system that the Release Certificate was transmitted on or prior to the date of release.

4.2.5 Resources to Released Offenders

We expected to find that required resources and documentation are provided to release offenders as per policy.

Staff interviewed believed that a process was in place to assist offenders in getting appropriate documentation upon release, but felt that offenders did not always have the resources and/or documentation they needed when they were being released.

CSC policy on the Release Process includes provisions about resources to be provided to offenders upon their release. Resources include accompaniment, supply of sufficient medication and financial resources and documentation such as ID card, birth certificate and provincial health insurance card.

Staff interviewed in a proportion of 94% (51/54) believed that CSC had a process in place to assist offenders in getting appropriate resources and documentation upon release. When asked whether offenders actually had proper resources and/or documentation when being released, 64% (42/66) of staff interviewed thought it was not always the case. CSC staff indicated that offenders' unwillingness to pay for documentation, such as birth certificate, was the main cause for this situation.

Our file review indicated that 42% (117/279) of the offenders had all three pieces of identification upon release – birth certificate, social insurance number and health insurance card, whereas 39% of the files reviewed (109/279) did not make mention of any identification in the offender's possession upon release.

Without proper resources, such as medication supplies, or proper documentation, such as identification card or health insurance card, offenders' reintegration into the community may be jeopardized.

Good Practices

  • The Québec Region used a Notice of Times of Departure and Return on Release Form, to provide the offender with key information regarding his/her release and his/her destination. They also had released offenders fill out a checklist upon departure to ensure that all required documentation, information and steps are completed prior to release.
  • The Ontario Region had a Memorandum of Understanding in place with Service Canada to help out offenders in getting proper documentation upon release.

4.2.6 Outstanding Warrants of Arrest

We expected to find that checks were conducted on all offenders prior to their release to ensure that there were no outstanding warrants of arrest, as required by policy.

Verification for outstanding warrants of arrest was done and documented by Sentence Management in each institution we visited as per policy.

We interviewed staff in each institution we visited and also reviewed files and we found that checks for outstanding warrants of arrest were done and documented in all cases.

CONCLUSION

Overall, good processes were in place to manage safe and effective release of offenders into the community. WED packages were all prepared for offenders released at warrant expiry that may have posed a threat to the community, Certificates of release were prepared for all offenders and most were shared with the police. Staff believed that there was a process in place to provide offenders with required resources, but they did not see this as being done consistently. Outstanding warrants of arrest were always verified prior to release.

Although there are processes in place, there is still room for improvement in several areas.

  • Several gaps in the communication between IPOs and CPOs with respect to completeness and timeliness of communications need to be filled.
  • Completeness and timeliness of distribution of WED packages to stakeholders including the police need to be enhanced. Packages are not always shared with offenders.
  • Although all prepared, the timeliness of Certificate of Release need to be improved. In addition, the Certificate should always list the same conditions of release than those listed in the offender's file.
  • Documentation of both electronic and paper copy of offender files was deficient.

CSC policy has been updated as of June 13, 2012. In its new version, roles and responsibilities have been clarified. This should ensure that notification of key stakeholders is done and documented in a more consistent manner. Among other things that were changed is the removal for the requirement that a teleconference be held between the IPO and the CPO. It still requires, however, that an exchange of information takes place between the two parole officers, and that it is fully documented.

Recommendation 3 3

The Assistant Commissioner, Correctional Operations and Programs, should clarify current direction and guidelines on the content and requirements attached to the preparation of WED packages and the notification of stakeholders to ensure consistency.

Office of the Primary Interest Response

We agree. The Correctional Operations and Programs Sector will develop a tool to provide clarification on the preparation of WED packages and stakeholder notification by April 30, 2014.

Recommendation 4 4

Regional Deputy Commissioners should have monitoring mechanisms in place to:

  • Ensure that WED packages are completed and distributed to all stakeholders in a timely manner.
  • Ensure that all necessary information is shared between the institutional and community paroles officers in a timely manner and that this exchange is well documented within the offender's file.

Office of the Primary Interest Response

We agree. By January 31, 2013, regions will have monitoring mechanisms in place to ensure WED packages are complete and timely.  This will be achieved by issuing direction to staff on the completion of the packages and developing procedures to ensure the packages are prepared with all relevant information and in a timely manner.

5.0 OVERALL CONCLUSION

With regards to the first audit objective, processes were in place to ensure adequate and effective release of offenders, and CSC staff was generally aware of the processes. Release conditions, community strategy, program referrals and expectations while under supervision were well explained to offenders and understood by them.

In relation to the second audit objective, although there were processes in place that were generally known by staff, they were not always being followed. There is still room for improvement in several areas such as the completeness and timeliness of communications between CSC staff and people with a need to know in the release notification process, the communication between IPOs and CPOs and the preparation and issuance of the WED packages. There is also room for improvement in the quality of documentation kept, both electronically and manually of offender's files.

CSC policy, including CD 712-4, has been updated as of June 13, 2012. In its new version, roles and responsibilities have been clarified. This should ensure that notification of key stakeholders is done and documented in a more consistent manner.

Office of Primary Interest Response

The Correctional Operations and Programs Sector agrees with the audit findings and the recommendations as presented in the report. We have prepared a detailed action plan to address the issues raised in the audit. More details on the actions to be taken have been provided for each recommendation. All actions to address recommendations are to be implemented by May 2014. It is important to note that, as a results of the Deficit Reduction Action Plan, the Correctional Operations and Programs Sector is currently reviewing Institutional Parole Officer responsibilities with a view to identifying efficiencies through eliminating duties that do not contribute to the correctional process. At this time, these activities are not viewed as impacting the implementation of the recommendations within this audit. Nonetheless, Correctional Operations and Program Sector will monitor the impact of DRAP on institutional case management activities and update the Audit Committee accordingly as a regular part of the MAP review process.


ANNEX A

AUDIT OBJECTIVES AND CRITERIA

OBJECTIVES CRITERIA
1. To assess the adequacy and effectiveness of the processes in place as they relate to release. 1.1 Identification of high profile offenders – processes are in place to manage and control the release of high profile offenders.
1.2 Transition into the community – processes are in place to ensure released offenders are provided all key information and documentation upon their release into the community.
1.3 Notification of key stakeholders – processes are in place to ensure that all key stakeholders (victims, police, etc.) are notified of the release of an offender.
2. To determine the extent to which CSC sites are in compliance with relevant legislation and policy directives. 2.1 Exchange of information – information and file documentation are exchanged between institutions and community when an offender is released.
2.2 Timeliness of notification – notification of the police of the release of WED is taking place in a timely manner, as per policy.
2.3 Release package – release packages for WED are prepared and distributed as per policy.
2.4 Certificate of release - certificates of release are prepared and provided to released offenders as per policy.
2.5 Resources to released offenders – resources to released offenders (accompaniment, supply of medication, supply of sufficient financial resources, etc.) are offered and provided as per policy.
2.6 Outstanding warrants – a check for any outstanding warrant of arrest is conducted on all offenders prior to their release as per policy.

ANNEX B

LOCATION OF SITE EXAMINATIONS

REGIONS SITES
Atlantic
  • Dorchester
  • Westmorland
Quebec
  • Leclerc
  • Montée St-François
  • Donnacona
Ontario
  • Warkworth
  • Fenbrook
  • Beaver Creek
Prairies
  • Drumheller
  • Edmonton
  • Edmonton for Women
Pacific
  • Kent
  • Mountain
  • Pacific RTC

ANNEX C

AREAS OUTSIDE OF THE SCOPE OF THE AUDIT

1. Inter-regional conditional releases

When an offender is released from an institution where the file is in a language different from the predominant official language of the supervising office, the releasing institution has to ensure that the pertinent file information is translated before release (CD712-4, paragraph 58). REASON: this was rated as a low risk in our risk assessment of the release process.

2. Temporary accommodation in penitentiary beyond Statutory Release

Offenders may apply to remain temporarily in a penitentiary beyond their parole or statutory release date (CD712-4, paragraph 81). REASON: As we are auditing the process relating to actual releases to the community, in these cases, offenders will be remaining in custody after release.

3. Residency in a penitentiary following a detention review.

Following an annual review of a detention order, the NPB may order that an offender reside on statutory release in a penitentiary (CD712-4, paragraph 89). REASON: Same as above, the offenders would be remaining in custody after release.

4. Removal from Canada

Offenders being released for deportation or voluntary departure from Canada will not be released until arrangements are made as appropriate (CD 712-4, paragraph 105). REASON: Again, these offenders are not being released to the community. Additionally, arrangements are made with Immigration or Justice officials and they are responsible for escorting and arranging transportation to the designated country.

5. CCRA Section 84

Aboriginal offenders are allowed to register to the CCRA section 84 release process, providing that they meet the conditions (CD 712-1-1). REASON: this is not material, as the number of offenders who take advantage of this process is very low. Also, the release process for section 84 is not different from that of others.


GLOSSARY

Accompaniment – an option for an offender to be accompanied to his or her release destination in the community.

Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC)CPIC is responsible for the storage, retrieval and communication of shared operational police information to all accredited criminal justice and other agencies involved in the detection, investigation and prevention of crime.

Case Management Team – the individuals involved in managing an offender's case, which include at minimum a Parole Officer and the offender, and in institutions, the Correctional Officer II/Primary Worker.

Casework Record (CWR) – information sharing tool on the Offender Management System (OMS) used to document items such as interviews with offenders, contacts with the offender's family, observations and case conferences.

Classification History – the historical security classification rating assigned to the offender throughout his or her sentence(s) with CSC.

Community Dynamics – any dynamics in the community that can affect the case (i.e. family support).

Community Parole Officer (CPO) – a Parole Officer who works in a community parole office.

High Profile Offender (HPO) – high profile offenders include those whose offence involved the death of or serious harm to another person(s) and received significant public attention or whose offence was non-violent but generated significant media attention and/or a significant number of victims.

HPO memo – a memo to file is created for high profile offenders who are about to be released into the community and are likely to generate significant media attention. A notification is sent to a distribution list regarding the completion of the memo.

Institutional Parole Officer (IPO) - a Parole Officer who works in the institution.

Key stakeholders – for the purpose of this audit, key stakeholders were defined as victims, the police and the supervising office.

Long Term Supervision Offender (LTSO) – an offender who receives a long-term supervision order which follows warrant expiry date (or earned release date for provincial sentence), for a period not exceeding 10 years.

Manager Assessment/Intervention (MAI) – supervises case management activities, conducts quality control of documents completed and submitted for decision, and provides supervision of parole officers in developing intervention strategies.

Offender Management System (OMS) – a computerized case file management system that manages information on federal offenders throughout their sentence.

Pre-release teleconference – method in which the Institutional Parole Officer and the Community Parole Officer exchange information prior to the offender's release (the current commissioner directive does not require the need for a teleconference; however, information must be exchanged as per annex guidelines).

Release certificate – a document confirming the status of release and all applicable conditions that apply to an offender.

Statutory release – a legislated release provided to an offender after serving two-thirds of a sentence (not applicable to offenders serving life sentences, indeterminate sentences or offenders subject to detention orders).

Warrant Expiry Date (WED) – the date a criminal sentence officially ends, as imposed by the courts at time of sentencing.

WED package – if it is determined a warrant expiry offender will pose a threat to the safety of any person in the community, the CSC will share the information with the relevant police agency. The information packages will include a summary of past offences, information regarding the perceived threat and an explanation of why CSC believes the offender to be dangerous, in addition to items listed in the commissioner directive 712-4.

MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN

AUDIT OF THE RELEASE PROCESS

Recommendation: Recommendation 15
Regional Deputy Commissioners, supported by strong national guidance, should ensure that HPO assessments prepared upon offenders release are fully documented and that HPO memos are created accordingly.
Management Response / Position: _ x_ Accepted ___ Accepted in Part ___ Rejected
Action(s) Deliverable(s) Approach Accountability Timeline for Implementation
What action(s) has / will be taken to address this recommendation? Expected deliverable(s) / indicator(s) to demonstrate the completion of the action(s) How does this approach address the recommendation? Who is responsible for implementing this action(s)? When will action(s) be completed to fully address the recommendation?
Review best practices for HPO Assessments in Audit of Release Process to identify potential for national adaptation. Memo to RDCs Provides national guidance. ACCOP 2012-11-30
Issue Case Management Bulletin to standardize the process and direction for completion of High Profile Memos. Case Management Bulletin Ensures clear direction and communication on national policy &provides national guidance. ACCOP 2012-11-30
Policy requirements and performance expectations will be communicated to managers and staff. Regional direction will be issued to ensure that managers and staff are aware of requirements. Ensures clear direction and communication on national policy. RDC 2012-11-30
Standardized regional procedures will be established, building on best practices identified in the report, to ensure that the necessary policy requirements are systematically addressed. Regional procedures will be established. Ensures consistency in completing HP memos. RDC 2012-11-30
Regional compliance processes will be established and implemented to track and report on the completion of HPO assessments and ensure that the necessary elements are documented. Specific regional processes will be in place. Compliance with policy will ensure HPO cases are managed appropriately. RDC 2012-11-30

Recommendation: Recommendation 26
Regional Deputy Commissioners should ensure that all stakeholders including victims are always notified about offender releases and that it is done in a timely manner.
Management Response / Position: __x__ Accepted ___ Accepted in Part ___ Rejected
Action(s) Deliverable(s) Approach Accountability Timeline for Implementation
What action(s) has / will be taken to address this recommendation? Expected deliverable(s) / indicator(s) to demonstrate the completion of the action(s) How does this approach address the recommendation? Who is responsible for implementing this action(s)? When will action(s) be completed to fully address the recommendation?
Regional direction will be issued to case management staff and their local managers to ensure that all stakeholders including Victim Services are notified of offender releases following receipt of notification of destination. Regional direction will be issued to ensure that managers and staff are aware of requirements. Regional direction will ensure that staff and managers are officially reminded of the requisite stakeholder notifications. RDC 2012-11-30
Institutional sites will ensure that local procedures are in place to verify that notifications are completed with all relevant stakeholders. Local procedures established and confirmed. Effective local procedures and management controls will ensure direct accountability with case management staff and their managers for assuring the timely completion of stakeholder notifications. Wardens 2013-01-31

Recommendation: Recommendation 37
The Assistant Commissioner, Correctional Operations and Programs, should clarify current direction and guidelines on the content and requirements attached to the preparation of WED packages and the notification of stakeholders to ensure consistency.
Management Response / Position: __x__ Accepted ___ Accepted in Part ___ Rejected
Action(s) Deliverable(s) Approach Accountability Timeline for Implementation
What action(s) has / will be taken to address this recommendation? Expected deliverable(s) / indicator(s) to demonstrate the completion of the action(s) How does this approach address the recommendation? Who is responsible for implementing this action(s)? When will action(s) be completed to fully address the recommendation?
Development of a resource document / tool to provide clarification on the preparation of WED packages and stakeholder notification. Tool posted on the INFONET in support of CD712-4 Release Process. This approach supports the recommendation and provides increased awareness and understanding of policy requirement related to WED packages and notification of stakeholders. ACCOP 2014-04-30

Recommendation: Recommendation 48
Regional Deputy Commissioners should have monitoring mechanisms in place to:
  • Ensure that WED packages are completed and distributed to all stakeholders in a timely manner.
  • Ensure that all necessary information is shared between the institutional and community paroles officers in a timely manner and that this exchange is well documented within the offender's file.
Management Response / Position: __x__Accepted ___ Accepted in Part ___ Rejected
Action(s) Deliverable(s) Approach Accountability Timeline for Implementation
What action(s) has / will be taken to address this recommendation? Expected deliverable(s) / indicator(s) to demonstrate the completion of the action(s) How does this approach address the recommendation? Who is responsible for implementing this action(s)? When will action(s) be completed to fully address the recommendation?
Regional direction will be issued to case management staff and their local managers to ensure the completion/distribution of WED packages is completed and to ensure that information sharing between parole officers occurs and is documented. Regional direction will be issued to ensure that managers and staff are aware of requirements. Regional direction will ensure that staff and managers are officially reminded of the requisite stakeholder notifications. RDC 2012-11-30
Regional procedures will develop to ensure that there is a consistent approach for ensuring that communication between institutional and community parole officers is completed and documented. Regional procedures established and confirmed. Effective regional procedures and management controls will ensure direct accountability with case management staff and their managers. ADCIOs / District Directors 2013-01-31
Institutional sites will ensure that local procedures are in place to verify that WED packages are completed and distributed. Local procedures established and confirmed. Effective local procedures and management controls will ensure direct accountability with case management staff and their managers for assuring the appropriate management of WED packages. Wardens 2013-01-31
Regional compliance processes will be developed and implemented. Processes established and implemented. Compliance with policy will ensure WED packages and release consultations are managed appropriately. RDC Ongoing

i Amendment made on June 10, 2013 to reflect proper assurance level.

1 Recommendation requires management's attention, oversight and monitoring.

2 Recommendation requires management's immediate attention, oversight and monitoring.

3 Recommendation requires management's attention, oversight and monitoring.

4 Recommendation requires management's immediate attention, oversight and monitoring.

5 Recommendation requires management's attention, oversight and monitoring.

6 Recommendation requires management's immediate attention, oversight and monitoring.

7 Recommendation requires management's attention, oversight and monitoring.

8 Recommendation requires management’s immediate attention, oversight and monitoring.