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Response from the Correctional Service of Canada Response to the Annual Report of the Correctional Investigator 2005-2006

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PRIORITY 2 – SAFETY AND SECURITY IN INSTITUTIONS
Safety and security for staff and offenders in our institutions

The changing offender population has a direct impact on the safety and security of institutions. There has been an increase in offenders demonstrating poor institutional adjustment, more anti-social behaviour, and there has been an increase in the proportion of offenders assessed as requiring placement into maximum security institutions at intake.3

CSC must work towards reducing all forms of violence, whether directed at staff or at offenders. At the same time, offenders must be provided with an environment that is secure and conducive to their rehabilitation. Furthermore, the high prevalence of offenders having substance abuse problems means that institutions are exposed to risks of violence associated with drugs.

CSC continues to look at ways to improve current practices, explore new and innovative strategies, and create better conditions for successful behavioural changes and rehabilitation of offenders.

To ensure the protection of staff and offenders in institutions, ongoing adjustments to security and interventions to address the changing offender profile must be put in place. Making these adjustments is a priority for CSC.

CI’s Recommendation 4:

I recommend that the Correctional Service immediately implement a prison-based needle exchange to ensure that inmates and society at large are best protected from the spread of serious diseases.

CSC’S RESPONSE:

CSC actively works to reduce the spread of infectious disease, and continues to examine options to decrease the risk of transmission of infectious disease for offenders, staff, and the public. However, CSC’s immediate focus is to curtail the supply, use and impact of drugs in institutions, while recognizing that additional efforts and resources will be required over time in the areas of prevention, treatment, enforcement, and harm reduction.

The Public Health Agency Canada (PHAC) has recently completed an initial study on the use of a safe-needle exchange program within the prison environment. CSC is analyzing the results of this study, within the overall context of CSC’s strategy on drugs in institutions, and examining the experience of international jurisdictions that have implemented needle exchange programs. However, the primary focus for CSC in the near term will be on reducing the supply of drugs in its institutions.

CI’s Recommendation 5 (cont’d from priority 1):

I recommend that, within one year, the Correctional Service:

  • review the daily operations and staffing of the women’s secure units with a view to eliminating "deadtime" and to significantly increasing timely access to treatment, spiritual, academic and work programs; and
  • review use of force incidents at women’s facilities to ensure consistent compliance with policy.

CSC’S RESPONSE:

CSC continues to seek increased opportunities for women offenders who are classified as maximum security to participate in programs and activities and to interact with others, while maintaining the safety and security of all concerned. The thorough review of all use of force incidents at women’s institutions is in place, and is a well-established practice.

  • review the daily operations and staffing of the women’s secure units with a view to eliminating "deadtime" and to significantly increasing timely access to treatment, spiritual, academic and work programs;

CSC’s approach is to continually review and improve operations and access to programs and treatment for women offenders in the Secure Unit.

CSC is focussing, in particular, on the more effective management of women who have been placed on the Management Protocol4, as a result of committing an act causing serious harm within the institution or seriously jeopardizing the safety of others during their incarceration. Women on the Management Protocol, and those in segregation, are most likely to experience periods of non-structured time which presents a challenge for CSC.

CSC is seeking to secure additional resources to increase interventions, and consequently increase opportunities for these women to access programs, treatment, educational and spiritual activities.

  • review use of force incidents at women’s facilities to ensure consistent compliance with policy.

The CI report indicates that the reportable use of force incidents at women’s facilities have measurably increased in 2005-06 following a significant decline in 2004-05. In contrast, CSC’s data indicate that use of force incidents have remained relatively stable over the last three fiscal years: 71 in 2003-04; 62 in 2004-05; and 71 in 2005-06.

CSC has policies and procedures in place that govern the recording, viewing and transmitting of videotapes, including the transmission of every tape to the OCI for review. Policy and procedures clearly specify the roles and responsibilities at the local, regional, and national levels for the review process and for the monitoring of use of force incidents and reporting.

All Institutional Emergency Response Team interventions are videotaped and subsequently reviewed at the local and the regional levels to ensure compliance with policy. In addition, all videotapes of incidents involving women offenders are reviewed by CSC through the Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Women, in order to ensure compliance with policy and to address any problematic issues with the institutions.

CI’s Recommendation 12 (cont’d from priority 1):

I recommend that, in the next year, the Correctional Service:

  • increase timely access to programs and services that will significantly reduce the time spent in medium and maximum security institutions.

CSC’S RESPONSE:

CSC is committed, within its resources, to increasing and enhancing the provision of opportunities for offenders to participate in all programs, including unescorted temporary absences and work release, that will assist in their gradual, supervised transition to the community.

CSC does not support numeric targets over comprehensive case-by-case reviews for the security classification or the gradual release of offenders. These decisions are based on a distinct review of each case. CSC will assist offenders to make the changes necessary to demonstrate that they have reduced the level of risk they represent.

Research has demonstrated that providing effective interventions is the most effective option for reducing institutional misconduct and maintaining safe and humane environments.

CSC is responding to the placement needs of the offender population through streamlining processes to ensure that, to the largest extent possible, all offenders have access to necessary interventions.

CSC’s goal is to improve access to programs for all offenders, which will contribute to decreasing risk. Reduced risk results in a lowering of required security level, and shorter time spent at the highest security level.

Additionally, in order to appropriately address the program needs of Aboriginal offenders,5 recent revisions to case management policies incorporated the consideration of Aboriginal social history in the correctional planning and decision-making process, in accordance with the principles of the Supreme Court of Canada Gladue6 decision.

CI’s Recommendation 13:

I recommend that, in the coming year, the Correctional Service:

  • proactively implement least restrictive options and significantly reduce the overall number of placements in administrative segregation;
  • significantly reduce the average length of stay in administrative segregation; and
  • significantly reduce the time to affect intra- and inter- regional transfers.

CSC’S RESPONSE:

CSC will continue to improve its practices to ensure that Administrative Segregation is used only in accordance with a fair and reasonable decision-making process, and to ensure that the offender is safely returned to the general inmate population at the earliest appropriate time.

  • proactively implement least restrictive options and significantly reduce the overall number of placements in administrative segregation;

The change in the offender profile has presented challenges in managing a contained environment with limited resources and options. CSC is committed to using Administrative Segregation only when required, in accordance with the CCRA. Placement in Administrative Segregation is initially reviewed by the Warden, (if it was not the Warden who confirmed the order to segregate) and, after five days, followed up by a review board’s recommendation, to ensure that the inmate’s continued custody in segregation is warranted pursuant to the considerations in the CCRA.

Additionally, to assist in compliance with policy and procedures related to Administrative Segregation, CSC continues to provide training to Correctional Supervisors with respect to administrative segregation.

  • significantly reduce the average length of stay in administrative segregation;

Multiple factors contribute to the need for Administrative Segregation. CSC’s continuing efforts to enhance mental health support, reduce the influence of drugs, and develop strategies to manage gangs, together with the measures taken to reduce institutional violence, should lessen reliance on Administrative Segregation and help to reduce the number of offenders seeking voluntary segregation.

As to women offenders in segregation, CSC has commenced a two-year pilot Segregation Advisory Committee at Edmonton Institution for Women, with external membership, to review the cases of women in segregation over 30 consecutive days, and all women whose cumulative stay in segregation exceeds 60 days over a one-year period. The purpose of the Committee is to identify possible reasonable alternatives to both short and long term segregation.

In addition, CSC will be conducting a national audit on administrative segregation in the fall 2006. The audit will focus on:

  1. the adequacy of the overall framework for the management of administrative segregation;
  2. determining whether the initial placement and continued segregation is justified;
  3. determining whether the conditions of confinement in segregation meet the intent of the law; and
  4. assessing the level of compliance to the administrative requirements of the segregation process related to reviews/assessments as well as the recording of information.
  • significantly reduce the time to affect intra- and inter- regional transfers.

Offenders requesting a voluntary transfer to alleviate their segregation status are considered a priority for transfer. On average, CSC conducts five inter-regional voluntary transfers a month in order to address long-term segregation cases. The success of these inter-regional transfers is monitored at the national level.

Additionally, for those cases where regions are having difficulty transferring an offender, Commissioner’s Directive 710-2 Transfer of Offenders, was recently amended to allow for a final decision, where two regions cannot agree on a transfer, to be made at National Headquarters.

CI’s Recommendation 14:

I recommend that Correctional Service immediately implement reasonable procedural safeguards for any offender confined in any situation that is not within the general inmate population, and ensure legal compliance with offenders’ rights, entitlements, and access to programs.

CSC’S RESPONSE:

CSC is responsible for the safe custody of an increasingly diverse population, within which there are often conflicting groups or individuals. Care will continue to be taken to respect every aspect of the CCRA in providing an environment within institutions that allow inmates to live in a safe and compatible way, while ensuring that their access to programs and their safety and security are not compromised.

CSC has conducted a survey of "Transition Units" and other sub-population units. As a result of the survey, a Commissioner’s Directive will be developed, to ensure that the needs of the various and potentially more challenging offender population that is being managed in institutions are met through safe and appropriate placement. CSC will also ensure full compliance with the CCRA, with respect to consistency of conditions of confinement across populations.

CI’s Recommendation 16:

I recommend that, within one year, the Correctional Service:

  • develop and implement new policies, programs and services specifically to meet the unique needs of offenders 20 and younger that will significantly reduce their time spent in maximum and medium-security institutions, and in administrative segregation; and
  • develop and implement programs and services designed to meet the unique needs of offenders 20 and younger that will significantly increase their timely and safe reintegration into the community.

CSC’S RESPONSE:

CSC will continue to ensure that the needs of all offenders, including younger offenders, are appropriately dealt with through their individual assessments and plans, while ensuring their overall safety and ability to participate in programs.

Each Correctional Plan is developed on an individual basis and therefore addresses the unique needs and concerns of the offender. Where there are accommodations required because of age-related needs, those are built into the Plan.

CI’s Recommendation 17:

I recommend that Correctional Service respond to the special needs of elderly offenders and significantly improve key areas including accommodation, program development, palliative care, and reintegration options.

CSC’S RESPONSE:

CSC will continue to ensure that the needs of all offenders, including elderly offenders, are appropriately dealt with through their individual assessments and plans, while ensuring their overall safety and ability to participate in programs.

As noted in our response to the issue of offenders under 20 years old, each Correctional Plan is developed on an individual basis and as such addresses the unique needs and concerns of the offender. When there are accommodations required because of age-related needs, those are built into the Plan.

CI’s Recommendation 18:

I recommend that the Correctional Service immediately increase inmate allowances for work and program participation. I further recommend that from this time forward inmate pay be indexed to the rate of inflation.

CSC’S RESPONSE:

This is not an immediate priority for CSC. CSC is presently examining options to maximize the effective use of resources currently allocated for inmate allowances.

CSC recognizes that a change to the inmate allowance system is needed and has been working with the OCI over the past six months to develop an improved approach. The OCI is a member of the Working Group that prepared a detailed report entitled, "Overview of Inmate Finances", in December 2005.

The analysis presented by the CI in these recommendations comes directly from the report. This in-depth report analyzed the issue from a legislative and historical perspective; issues raised by stake-holders; most recent changes to policy; comparisons nationally and internationally; inmate pay and motivation; and, the financial situation. As a result of this analysis, various options have been developed in order to create a more streamlined allowance system and these will be presented in the fall of 2006 to CSC senior management.

CI’s Recommendation 20:

I recommend that the Correctional Service immediately subject all federally sentenced offenders to an individualized security classification process as required by law and regulations.

CSC’S RESPONSE:

CSC does not believe that any changes are required to this process at this time. CSC’s approach to classification will continue to be based on individualized assessments, and be conducted in accordance with the law and regulations.

CSC does conduct individualized security classifications consistent with the CCRA. Security needs, programming, cultural and linguistic needs, and proximity to home community and family, along with institutional adjustment, escape risk and public safety ratings are considered in all placement decisions.

In situations where offenders are serving a life sentence, the security classification is carried out, in accordance with the CCRA, based on the elements noted above, the impact that a life sentence has on the individual, and the seriousness of the offence.

[3] Since 2001, CSC’s initial placement policy requires that offenders charged with murder spend at least two years in a maximum-security institution.

[4] The Management Protocol is a framework that provides the structure, monitoring and supervision required to ensure safety of staff, other inmates and the public by stabilizing the inmate’s daily routine

[5] See Priority 3 Aboriginal Offenders, Enhanced Capacities To Provide Effective Intervention for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Offenders, for more detailed information on CSC’s efforts to address this priority

[6] In 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada decision R. v. Gladue acknowledged the place in the criminal justice system of Aboriginal beliefs on justice and reconciliation and on the interconnectedness between individuals, families and communities (be it urban, rural or reserve).