Response to the 44th Annual Report of the Correctional Investigator 2016-2017

Introduction

The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) contributes to the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by carrying out sentences imposed by the courts and ensuring the safe and humane custody and supervision of offenders. CSC also encourages and assists the rehabilitation of offenders and their reintegration into the community as law-abiding citizens through the provision of programs in penitentiaries and in the community.

On a typical day during 2016-17, CSC was responsible for 22,882 offenders, of whom 14,310 were in federal custody (including temporary detainees) and 8,572 were supervised in the community. CSC is responsible for the management of 43 institutions, 91 parole offices and 15 community correctional centres. CSC has nine (9) Healing Lodges to support the reintegration of Indigenous offenders into the community, four (4) of which are managed by CSC in close collaboration with Indigenous communities (included in the 43 institutions). The remaining five (5) are managed by Indigenous communities under Section 81 of the CCRA. As well, CSC operates six learning centres across the country and CSC employs over 18,000 people.

Recent years have seen significant changes to CSC's operational environment and this is expected to continue into the foreseeable future. CSC is supporting the government's mandate to address gaps in services, throughout the criminal justice system, for Indigenous Peoples and those with mental illness. At the same time, the Government of Canada's Budget 2017 has provided funding to modernize the federal correctional system by supporting the rehabilitation and reintegration of Indigenous offenders, and expanding mental health supports.

Throughout 2016-17, CSC took numerous actions in response to audits of the Office of the Auditor General of Canada as well as reports from the Office of the Correctional Investigator. In this regard, CSC has achieved a number of successes in 2016-17, including a higher number of offenders returning safely and successfully to the community, a significant decrease in the number of offenders who are in administrative segregation or double-bunked, more treatments of Hepatitis C and opiate addiction, reductions in non-natural deaths in custody and a declining incarcerated population.

CSC's enduring priorities are:

  • Safe management of eligible offenders during their transition from the institution to the community, and while on supervision.
  • Safety and security of the public, victims, staff and offenders in institutions and the community.
  • Effective, culturally appropriate interventions and reintegration support for First Nations, Métis and Inuit offenders.
  • Effective and timely interventions in addressing mental health needs of offenders
  • Efficient and effective management practices that reflect values-based leadership in a changing environment.
  • Productive relationships with diverse partners, stakeholders, victims' groups, and others involved in support of public safety.

This is a time of immense change within CSC and consequently the Service welcomes the report of the Correctional Investigator. CSC will continue to work closely with the Office of the Correctional Investigator to address and resolve issues of mutual concern raised in this report, in pursuit of its mandate and in the interest of public safety for Canadians.

Health Care in Federal Corrections

1. I recommend that CSC review, in FY 2017-18, its health care policies, practices and authorities to ensure they are compliant with the revised United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Nelson Mandela Rules), specifically those relating to health care services (Rules 24 to 35), solitary confinement (Rules 45 and 46) and instruments of restraint (Rules 47 to 49).

CSC is reviewing its health care policies to ensure compliance with the Nelson Mandela Rules. This review is expected to be completed by March 31, 2018.

CSC's work is ongoing with respect to implementing important changes in relation to health care policies, including those pertaining to health care services, administrative segregation and restraints. Amongst the changes to these policies, there are specific groups of inmates who are not admissible to administrative segregation, as well as additional groups that are not admissible unless exceptional circumstances are identified.

In addition, the conditions of confinement in administrative segregation have been enhanced to ensure the allowance of essential items upon admission, personal property within 24 hours, daily showers, and a minimum of two hours daily outside of the inmate's cell.

Prior to any admission to administrative segregation, health professionals are currently consulted as part of the standard requirements prescribed in policy. Upon admission, assessments by health care professionals continue to occur on a daily basis to identify any noted concerns, including the deterioration of the mental health of the inmate.

The proposed enhancements related to conditions of confinement, as well as the current practice of prohibiting offenders with certain mental or physical disabilities from being admitted to administrative segregation are consistent with the Nelson Mandela Rules.

2. I recommend that transferring mentally ill women in the Pacific Region to the all-male Regional Treatment Centre be absolutely and explicitly prohibited. Women requiring mental health treatment should be transferred to the female unit at the Regional Psychiatric Centre (RPC) in Saskatoon, or preferably, to a local external community psychiatric hospital as required.

CSC fully supports the recommendation to provide hospital level care for mentally ill women at local external community psychiatric hospitals. Access to local community psychiatric hospital beds for federally incarcerated women would enhance the continuum of mental health services for this population and minimize the women's dislocation from their home communities and supports.

In the interim, as CSC continues to engage its health partners across the country and in order to ensure women are provided care in the most therapeutic environment possible, in fall 2017, CSC will enshrine in policy the requirement to use Regional Treatment Centres (RTCs) for women only in emergency circumstances and only for short-term periods. CSC will further require that these placements be done on the recommendation of the treating physician and that any woman placed at RTCs will be monitored by both the regional and national complex mental health committees. All efforts will be made to minimize the number of transfers while attempting to keep individuals close to their home community.

3. I recommend that CSC issue a Request for Proposal to fund or expand community bed treatment capacity to accommodate up to 12 federally sentenced women requiring an intensive level of mental health intervention, care and supervision.

CSC recognizes the need to provide essential mental health services to women offenders and is committed to working with community partners to provide that care.

As a first step, CSC has engaged an external expert to identify and quantify women's mental health needs through a comprehensive mental health prevalence study. This research is nearing completion.

As a next step, CSC will engage external expertise to recommend what additional capacity is required. This work will be based on the results of the prevalence study and will take into consideration existing internal and external mental health service delivery capacity. This work will be completed no later than March 2018.

That said, CSC recognizes that it cannot wait for the results of this review to continue to improve women offenders' access to care. As mentioned earlier, CSC will continue to engage local community psychiatric hospitals in order to improve access to intensive in-patient care close to the women offenders' home communities and supports.

4. I recommend that CSC reintroduce safe tattooing as a national program.

CSC will re-examine all possible harm reduction initiatives, including a safe tattooing program in 2017-18. CSC will continue to provide a broad continuum of disease prevention initiatives including treatment, health promotion, and harm reduction approaches related to infectious diseases.

5. I recommend that compassionate and humanitarian interests guide policy and practice in implementing Medical Assistance in Dying legislation in federal corrections. The decision of a palliative or terminally ill offender to end life through MAID should be freely and voluntarily made in the community.

CSC's policy on Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) will conform to the legislative requirements in this regard and will be guided by compassionate and humanitarian principles as well as applicable public safety legislative obligations. The policy is expected to be promulgated in November 2017.

Conditions of Confinement

6. I recommend that the lessons learned from the National Board of Investigation into the December 2016 major disturbance at Saskatchewan Penitentiary be widely circulated within CSC and released as a public document.

CSC will develop a Lessons Learned Bulletin in order to share any lessons learned / best practices identified by the Board of Investigation (BOI) into the Saskatchewan Penitentiary riot. A summary of the investigation into the major disturbance at Saskatchewan Penitentiary will also be widely circulated within CSC and will be released as a public document in December 2017.

7. I recommend that an external audit and evaluation of CSC food services be conducted on a priority basis and that the concerns of the inmate population related to portion size, quality, selection and substitution of food items are solicited, heard and addressed immediately by CSC management. The audit should include comparison of ration and per diem meal costs, prior to and after introduction of the food services modernization initiative.

An Internal Audit of Food Services is planned for fiscal year 2017-18, and is to be published during the second half of 2018. Upon developing the objectives and scope of the audit in the coming months, CSC will take the OCI's recommendation into consideration.

8. I recommend reinstatement and expansion of the Alternative Dispute Resolution pilot program at all medium and maximum security penitentiaries.

Consistent with Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and, as required by section 74(2) of the Corrections and Conditional Release Regulations, CSC supports and encourages staff and offenders at all sites to make every effort to resolve issues informally through discussion.

In order to ensure that CSC complies with section 90 of the CCRA, it has become imperative that the backlog and complexity of offender grievances at the national level be addressed on a priority basis. In this context, the ADR pilot program has been temporarily halted for 2017-18; however, CSC will be examining the lessons learned from the ADR pilot project and developing a model that is more efficient, effective, and accessible to all inmates. A new model will be developed in 2018-2019 and presented for possible consideration as part of legislative amendments.

9. I recommend that CSC publish on its public website the process for requesting use of force video recordings, including the legal criteria for exemptions and disclosure. CSC should inform the inmate population of their right to access use of force video recordings.

CSC is currently examining the issue of disclosure of a video recording in the context of a disciplinary hearing, including the criteria for exceptions under the common law, public-interest privilege. As such, access to use of force video recordings will also be included in this review due to be completed by March 2018.

10. I recommend that CSC conduct a review of its prison visitor program, to include an updated evaluation of the use and reliability of Ion Mobility Spectrometry devices, and report the results to the Canadian public.

CSC will review CD 566-8, Searching of Staff and Visitors in consultation with the Security Intelligence Officer Working Group to identify potential areas for improvement. As well, CSC will be conducting a review of the use and reliability of Ion Mobility Spectrometry devices, with an anticipated completion date of January 2018. The results of the review will be released as a public document.

11. I recommend that, over the next two years, CSC remove the current fleet of security escort vehicles (small mini-vans) as their design is substandard and unsafe and replace them with larger vehicles meeting industry standards in policing (e.g. RCMP).

CSC is committed to replacing its fleet of security escort vehicles to reflect recent industry advancements in their design and configuration, while ensuring the safety and security of the public, staff, and offenders is maintained.

To this end, CSC will explore the purpose-built security escort vehicles currently in use by the RCMP as a potential option for replacement of CSC's vehicles in the future. This work will be undertaken in 2017-18, in addition to a review of factors impacting the life cycle of the existing fleet (age, mileage, overall condition of vehicles), which will inform next steps and timeframes for replacement of CSC's security escort vehicles.

Indigenous Corrections

12. I recommend that CSC review its community release strategy for Indigenous offenders with a view to:

  1. increase the number of Section 81 agreements to include community accommodation options for the care and custody of medium security inmates;
    The Service is committed to expanding Section 81 capacity to better accommodate the Indigenous offender population. As part of its efforts in this regard, and based on statements of interest from Indigenous communities, CSC is currently reviewing a number of such statements of interest in close collaboration with the community.
    Given that Healing Lodges for male offenders are minimum-security environments, measures are currently being implemented to maximize the use of Healing Lodges as a critical step towards the successful reintegration of Indigenous male offenders to the community. CSC is enhancing its discretionary release processes through the creation of Indigenous Intervention Centres (AIC) to ensure that minimum-security offenders are transferred or pen-placed at a Healing Lodge in order to improve their opportunity for a safe and timely discretionary release into the community.
    In the case of Indigenous women offenders, CSC is currently assessing the feasibility of increasing Healing Lodges' access to Indigenous medium- and minimum-security women offenders in the Prairie Region including increasing bed capacity among the existing Healing Lodges. This will assist the Service in meeting the unique needs of Indigenous women offenders and provide them with increased opportunities to connect with their communities as they transition back into society as law-abiding citizens.
  2. address discrepancies in funding arrangements between CSC and Aboriginal-managed Healing Lodge facilities, and;
    CSC values its working relationships with Indigenous communities and considers Indigenous-managed Healing Lodge facilities to be integral to the provision of Indigenous correctional services to Indigenous offenders. CSC and its Section 81 Agreement Holders, at mutually agreed upon times, conduct reviews, evaluations and negotiations related to the provision of services including security operations, case management and corresponding financial provisions. CSC will collaborate with its Section 81 Agreement Holders to examine funding arrangements with Indigenous-managed Healing Lodges for the purposes of maximizing its benefits to inmates while ensuring the efficient administration of Section 81 Agreements.
  3. maximize community interest and engagement in release planning for Indigenous offenders at the earliest opportunity.
    As part of its commitment to transform Indigenous Corrections, CSC is currently implementing Aboriginal Intervention Centres (AIC), in each of its five regions. This is one of the critical initiatives to strengthen case management practices, respond to the needs of Indigenous offenders and foster the timely planning of Indigenous offenders' correctional/healing plan, including the development of a preliminary release plan while at intake. Aboriginal Community Development Officers will be assigned to the AICs to ensure maximum use of Section 84 release planning process, and by extension, increase the participation of Indigenous communities in planning the release of Indigenous offenders. As CSC implements these Centres, lessons learned will be integrated to determine potential for expansion and enhancement.

Safe and Timely Community Reintegration

13. I recommend that the Minister of Public Safety request that the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security (SECU) conduct a special study on inmate work and prison industries (CORCAN).

This recommendation is directed to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. However, CSC will continue to conduct internal reviews related to this area, including examining the link of vocational certifications, apprenticeships and on-the-job training to acquire employment on release.

The National Employment Skills Program (for men and women) was updated by the Conference Board of Canada and CSC. Implementation of the updated curriculum is ongoing at this time to have it available at all institutions by the end of fiscal year 2017-18.

The Indigenous Offender Employment Initiative related to modular construction, including vocational training and on-the-job training, is currently in the implementation phase commencing with the Prairie Region. Actual work is expected to commence by November 2017 at Pê Sâkâstêw Centre and Drumheller Institution, with ongoing implementation of this initiative at three (3) additional sites in the Prairie Region in 2017-18.

Communication and consultation with stakeholder committees including the Citizen's Advisory Committees, Ethnocultural Advisory Committees, and the National Aboriginal Advisory Committee will contribute to CORCAN's continued enhancement to meet the needs of the diverse population, including women offenders, Indigenous offenders, ethnocultural offenders and offenders with mental health needs.

14. I recommend that the prison farm program be reinstated under CORCAN direction.

In 2016, CSC conducted a community consultation and survey, with a feasibility study commencing thereafter and ongoing at this time. A Farm Advisory Panel, including seven (7) community members held its first meeting in June 2017. Additional meetings are ongoing and CSC is reviewing options related to re-opening of the farms at Collins Bay and Joyceville Institutions. CSC will submit its report to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness in the fall of 2017.

15. I recommend reinstatement of the LifeLine program.

CSC is committed to addressing the unique needs of offenders serving a life sentence and offering targeted programs that provide appropriate support for all offenders as they work towards their rehabilitation. The Lifer Resource Strategy, which replaced the Lifeline Program, is available in all institutions. It includes 15 modules that are tailored to each stage of a life sentence: adaptation, integration, preparation for release, and release into the community. The Lifer Resource Strategy is designed to provide a standardized approach to supporting and managing life-sentenced offenders in a way that recognizes their specific circumstances and complements other programs and interventions provided by CSC staff. It is available alongside many other services offered by CSC including psychology, chaplaincy, community partners and numerous stakeholders, to support successful reintegration of long-term offenders.

Federally Sentenced Women

16. I recommend that the level system for maximum security be rescinded. Without procedural safeguards and defined review dates, movement levels are arbitrary as they exist outside the law. Security requirements should be assessed on a case-by-case basis as per the principles outlined in the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.

CSC will conduct a review of the level system currently outlined in Commissioner's Directive 578, Intensive Intervention Strategy in Women Offender Institutions/Units. This will include internal and external consultations to ensure that procedures are in full compliance with legislation and CSC policy, while also ensuring that women housed in Secure Units continue to have access to services, programs and activities in the main areas of the institutions, and that measures are in place to maintain the safety and security of other offenders and staff. Consultations are expected to be completed by January 2018, followed by the development of options and an implementation plan by March 2018.

17. I recommend that CSC expand capacity of the Structured Living Environments to allow for women with mental health needs to be integrated and accommodated in more appropriate and therapeutic settings. The Secure Units should be limited to separating women who would otherwise normally be placed in segregation.

CSC fully supports the importance of a therapeutic environment for women offenders with significant mental health needs.

In this regard, further to Budget 2017, all women's mainstream institutions will receive additional funding to support mental health interventions for women in the Secure Unit. The timelines for the distribution of funds will be determined jointly by the Women Offender Sector and the Mental Health Branch.

Furthermore, in order to ensure CSC has the capacity required to meet the mental health needs of women at all security levels and, as noted in Recommendation 3, CSC will engage an independent external mental health professional to identify what additional mental health capacity is required and at what security level. This review will be completed no later than March 2018.

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