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Response from the Correctional Service of Canada Response to the 34th Annual Report of the Correctional Investigator

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INTRODUCTION

The goal of the Canadian criminal justice system is to contribute to the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society. Through its legislated mandate , the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) plays an important role in contributing to public safety by:

  • carrying out sentences imposed by courts through the reasonable, safe, secure and humane control of offenders in institutions, and effective supervision of offenders in communities
  • assisting the rehabilitation of offenders and their reintegration into the community as law-abiding citizens, through the provision of programs and other interventions in institutions and communities.

At the end of the 2005-2006 fiscal year, CSC was responsible for approximately 12,700 federally incarcerated offenders (excluding 1,200 offenders temporarily detained while on conditional release to the community) and 6,800 offenders actively supervised in the community. Over the course of the year, including all admissions and releases, CSC managed a flow-through of 25,500 different offenders.

Priorities

In order to deliver the best possible public safety results, CSC is continuing to focus on the same priorities identified in the previous year:

  1. Safe transition of eligible offenders into the community;
  2. Safety and security for staff and offenders in our institutions;
  3. Enhanced capacities to provide effective interventions for First Nations, Métis and Inuit offenders;
  4. Improved capacities to address mental health needs of offenders; and
  5. Strengthened management practices.

Challenges and Way Forward

For several years CSC has experienced increasing challenges due to shortfalls in funding, an infrastructure that is dated and rusting out, and an offender population that has become more complex and difficult to manage. The profile changes include higher numbers of extensive histories of violence, organized crime backgrounds, gang affiliations, infectious diseases and serious mental disorders, as well as a growing proportion of the population with Aboriginal ancestries. In the 2007 Budget, the Government addressed the current challenges by putting in place a two-part scenario. First, two-year funding was provided to enable CSC to address its most urgent issues, specifically to:

  • Meet requirements for corrective maintenance in our institutions
  • Sustain security and safety of our staff and offenders
  • Meet basic legal and policy requirements, including information management and technology support
  • Provide additional capacity directly related to the changing offender profile.

Secondly, an independent review of corrections was launched. This review is currently being conducted by an independent panel which is examining CSC’s operational priorities, strategies and business plans.

The panel has been asked to provide an assessment of the efficiency and effectiveness of CSC’s contributions to public safety and to provide advice on how they might be strengthened. It is expected that this review will help set the stage for a clear, long-term direction for the federal corrections system as well as for sustainable resourcing levels. The panel will provide its report to the Minister by October 31, 2007 and, as announced by the Minister, it will be made public.

Response to CI’s report

CSC’s response to the recommendations of the Correctional Investigator this year must be understood in the context of the two-part scenario outlined above. Longer-term approaches can only be fully established once the independent review is completed and the Government has responded to it.

In addition, some of the Correctional Investigator's recommendations this year touch on areas where CSC already has taken action or launched a process to deal with the issue. As a result, those responses are framed in terms of CSC's ongoing progress.

SAFE TRANSITION OF ELIGIBLE OFFENDERS INTO THE COMMUNITY

Recommendation #1:

I recommend that the Correctional Service secure and commit adequate funding to improve its capacity to provide the required assessments and programming in advance of the offender’s scheduled parole hearing dates.

With respect to assessment capacity, the following tools are currently under development:

  • security reclassification scale for Aboriginal offenders
  • Inuit-specific risk prediction scale
  • revised dynamic factors identification and analysis component of the Offender Intake Assessment
  • computerized mental health intake assessment
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder screening protocol
  • initial custody assessment for women
  • dynamic risk assessment tool for women
  • computerized assessment of substance abuse for women.

To address gaps brought about by the changing offender profile related to programming, national implementation has begun for a moderate intensity violence prevention program, an Alternatives, Associates and Attitudes program, an Aboriginal Basic Healing program, as well as expansion of the Aboriginal Offender Substance Abuse program. With respect to women offender programming, work is near completion for a women's violence prevention program.

In terms of securing additional funding to support further enhancement of its capacity in these areas, CSC is awaiting the results of the independent review that is currently underway. Assessing CSC’s capacity to do effective programming and assessment are an important aspect of the panel’s mandate.

CSC will continue to strive for improvement in these areas.

Recommendation #2:

I recommend that the Correctional Service establish as a priority the timely preparation of cases to appear before the National Parole Board, as per policy. Performance in this key area should be closely monitored and measured on an ongoing basis through increased reporting.

With respect to the timely preparation of parole cases appearing before the National Parole Board, CSC continues to monitor compliance with policy and measure performance on an ongoing basis. CSC conducts monthly reviews of our statistics via our Corporate Monitoring Tool and does a comparative analysis against the statistics kept and provided by NPB.

All CSC regions and operational sites have automated access to these performance measures for self-assessment and ongoing management improvement. In addition, National Headquarters regularly bring variances to the attention of senior administrators for corrective action.

CSC will continue its efforts to improve its performance in this area.

SAFETY AND SECURITY FOR STAFF AND OFFENDERS IN OUR INSTITUTIONS

Recommendation #3:

I recommend that the Correctional Service establish a timely approval process whereby its Executive Committee approves the development of action plans in response to investigative reports into inmate deaths or major injuries. In no case should this process last longer than six months from the date of the incident.

Our current practice already requires Executive Committee members to review, amend and approve all action plans for closure of these national investigations. While an action plan is under development, interim measures are initiated if required. CSC has already put in place procedures to ensure that all routine investigations are completed within six months. For more complex investigations, the process may extend beyond the timeframe but only with the specific approval of the Senior Deputy Commissioner.

In addition, CSC resources were re-profiled during 2006-07 to improve timeliness. Increased tracking and accountability processes are also being established.

Recommendation #4:

I recommend that the Correctional Service develop an action plan on the steps it will take to establish a new process to ensure consistent and timely implementation, as well as regular follow-ups, of its recommendations and those of Coroners and Medical Examiners.

The procedure that has been in place for several years requires that recommendations from both CSC investigations and from external bodies be reviewed by national and/or region Health Services officials against evidence-based medical and health standards. All recommendations are seriously considered and, when a recommendation is deemed appropriate and feasible, an action plan is put in place. Follow-up is conducted to verify that the required action has been implemented.

As a process is already in place, CSC believes it is not necessary to establish a new one. Nevertheless, CSC recognizes that improvements to the discipline around the existing process are required. CSC is developing a number of different strategies to increase and support its capacity for a more rigorous and timely analysis of the information contained in investigation reports, as well as those of Coroners’ and Medical Examiners. In addition, greater focus will be placed on communicating “lessons learned” to the operational sites.

Resources within the Correctional Operations and Programs Sector are also being re-profiled to increase CSC’s capacity to monitor the progress on action plans and support their implementation.

CSC is progressively moving toward a more disciplined regime in which the implementation of action plans are effectively tracked, and lessons learned are integrated and communicated across CSC in a timely fashion.

Recommendation #5:

I recommend that the Correctional Service:

(1) Establish a consistent framework for reporting and recording attempted suicides, self-inflicted injuries and overdoses.

CSC is currently reviewing Commissioner’s Directive 568-1, Recording and Reporting of Security Incidents, to more accurately define and report self-inflicted injuries, overdose incidents, and attempted suicides.

It is anticipated that the revised definitions and process, along with corresponding changes to the Commissioner’s Directive 568-1, will be completed by Fall of 2007.

(2) Provide for the systemic review of the circumstances of these injuries in order to ensure that these cases are subject to appropriate review and to investigate, where required by law.

Following the promulgation of CD 568-1 (see above), these inmate injuries will be reviewed on a quarterly basis by National Headquarters. This will be an important refinement to the review and investigative process that currently exists.

(3) Take corrective actions to prevent the recurrence of accidents and of wilful acts involving injuries.

In March 2001, through communications from the National and Regional Joint Occupational Safety and Health (NJOSH) Committees, the local Joint Occupational Safety and Health (JOSH) committees were reminded of this obligation to conduct reviews of the circumstances associated with all staff and inmate injuries of an accidental nature and to take specific timely corrective action when appropriate. As well, senior officials in the regions have been reminded of their obligation to ensure that all local committees continue to track and review all staff and inmate injuries of an accidental nature. As a result, CSC’s discipline in this area has significantly improved.

CSC is exploring options to analyse and report nationally on staff injuries. The options will be discussed with the NJOSH Committee at their Fall 2007 meeting and the selected option will be implemented fully by Spring 2008. In addition, CSC will incorporate inmate accidental injuries into the national reporting process.

Recommendation #6:

I recommend that the Correctional Service evaluate the effectiveness and adequacy of its harm reduction strategies in consultation with its Health Care Advisory Committee.

The Health Care Advisory Committee has committed to providing CSC with their advice by Fall 2007 on potential options related to the prevention of transmission of infectious diseases (including harm reduction) that might be implemented in CSC.

ENHANCED CAPACITIES TO PROVIDE EFFECTIVE INTERVENTIONS FOR FIRST NATIONS, MÉTIS AND INUIT OFFENDERS

Recommendation #7:

I recommend that the Correctional Service reconsider its decision not to appoint a Deputy Commissioner for Aboriginal Offenders with the authority to implement the Service’s Strategic Plan for Aboriginal Corrections.

CSC’s work in this important area is driven by the Strategic Plan for Aboriginal Corrections, which was extensively reviewed and discussed by Executive Committee prior to its formal approval. The Strategic Plan is a corporate priority and is integrated as such in CSC’s Report on Plan and Priorities. This management accountability process publicly demonstrates our corporate ownership of the Strategic Plan.

The Senior Deputy Commissioner is responsible for the effective implementation of CSC’s Strategic Plan for Aboriginal Corrections, and has been and continues to be a strong and effective voice at Executive Committee.

The Strategic Plan for Aboriginal Corrections clearly articulates the accountabilities of the Assistant Commissioner, Correctional Operations and Programs and the Deputy Commissioner for Women to ensure there is a corporate emphasis on implementing the specific initiatives in an integrated manner. In addition, every Regional Deputy Commissioner is responsible and accountable for improving results for Aboriginal offenders. This accountability acknowledges the fact that Aboriginal offenders are located in all institutions and on almost all parole office caseloads across the country.

In support of the Strategic Plan, a national implementation plan, with the appropriate involvement of Regions and NHQ Sectors, is in place and progress on implementation is reported twice annually. CSC believes this action is sufficient to ensure appropriate action and monitoring of results.

Aboriginal corrections is a major focus of the independent review panel. This focus includes programming and interventions, employment and capacity issues with respect to Aboriginal corrections. The Government’s response to the recommendations of the panel could therefore involve some significant adjustments to the Strategic Plan as a result of the review panel’s comments. Should changes to the current governance structure be needed to deliver on these adjustments, CSC will consider them at that time.

Recommendation #8:

I recommend that the Correctional Service publicly report, on an annual basis, its progress in implementing of its Strategic Plan for Aboriginal Corrections. The report should include progress on key correctional performance indicators, including transfers, segregation, discipline, temporary absences and work releases, detention referrals, delayed parole reviews, and suspension and revocation of conditional release.

CSC produces an annual Report on Plans and Priorities (RPP) and reports on the results achieved against these plans in its annual Departmental Performance Report (DPR). CSC uses the DPR to report on progress toward the goals of the National Action Plan on Aboriginal Offenders.

In addition, CSC contributes significantly to the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics’ Adult Correctional Services in Canada report and Public Safety Canada’s Corrections and Conditional Release Overview. Both are annual statistical publications which contain information on Aboriginal offenders. CSC is in the early stages of developing its own annual statistical report. The report will include information on the total offender population, including Aboriginal and women offenders.

Recommendation #9:

I recommend that the Correctional Service immediately re-establish the National Aboriginal Advisory Committee, as required by law.

Work to select new members for the National Aboriginal Advisory Committee is underway.

IMPROVED CAPACITIES TO ADDRESS MENTAL HEALTH NEEDS OF OFFENDERS

Recommendation #10:

I recommend that the Minister make securing adequate and permanent funding for the full implementation of the Correctional Service’s Mental Health Strategy a key portfolio priority.

During this past year, CSC has worked very closely with the Minister to secure funding for implementation of the Mental Health Strategy.

Consistent with the two-part scenario outlined in the introduction, CSC has been provided with funding for 2007/08 and 2008/09 so that it can move ahead with three elements of the strategy:

  1. mental health intake screening and assessment
  2. mental health primary care at selected sites and
  3. some enhancements to the services provided at Regional Treatment Centres.

This investment is sufficient to move in the right direction for fiscal years 2007/2008 and 2008/2009.

Mental Health is a major focus for the independent review panel. Resourcing levels for CSC’s mental health capacity beyond 2008/2009 will be determined by the Government’s response to the recommendations of the panel.

Recommendation #11:

I recommend that the Correctional Service fast track its training initiatives to ensure that all front-line employees are trained in dealing with mentally ill offenders.

CSC recognizes the importance of training for staff required to work with mentally disordered offenders. CSC’s Mental Health Strategy includes additional training for all staff and CSC has already begun to implement the first two years of this Strategy. As part of the implementation plan for the elements of the Strategy for which CSC has received funding, training programs that were developed for the Community Mental Health Initiative are being adapted for use in institutions and will be piloted this fiscal year. The two-year funding received includes funds for the training of front-line staff, and CSC will provide as much training as possible given the resources available during this period of time.

STRENGTHENED MANAGEMENT PRACTICES

Recommendation #12:

I recommend that the Correctional Service immediately audit its operations to ensure it meets its legislative requirement to resolve offenders’ complaints and grievances fairly and expeditiously. This audit should examine the use of grievance information and trend analysis to implement strategies to prevent future complaints and systematically address areas of offender concern.

An audit of the Offender Complaint and Grievance System has already been scheduled for next fiscal year (2008-2009). This timing was approved by CSC’s Audit Committee as the most appropriate juncture for reviewing progress on the initiatives that have already been launched in this area.

The objective of this audit will be to assess the overall management control framework for the efficient management of offender complaints and grievances and to ensure compliance with relevant legislation, policy and procedures, including applicable Commissioner’s Directives. The audit will also seek to identify opportunities for improvement, including the potential for CSC to identify and share best practices that have been implemented in specific regions or institutions.

Recommendation #13:

I recommend that the Correctional Service significantly increase (above the required employment equity level) the overall rate of representation of Aboriginal employees in its workforce at all levels in institutions where a majority of offenders are of Aboriginal ancestry.

CSC has developed a Strategic Plan for Human Resource Management that has prioritized our activities and initiatives for the next three years. Among these priorities is the development of a Departmental National Recruitment Strategy that will include Aboriginal recruitment as a focal point for recruitment activities and work began in Summer 2007.

Recruitment/staffing mechanisms under the new Public Service Employment Act have been identified and will be further utilized to increase recruitment flexibilities. Work has also started to identify systemic barriers to remove any unnecessary recruitment/staffing impediments.

Annex A

CSC’s Mandate

The Corrections and Conditional Release Act, (CCRA) is the legislative framework for CSC. The mandate of the Correctional Service of Canada is to contribute to the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by:

  • carrying out sentences imposed by courts through the safe and humane custody and supervision of offenders; and
  • assisting in 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.

Consistent with the CCRA, CSC’s Mission reflects Canadians’ values, including respect for the rule of law, safe, secure and humane custody of offenders and underlines our commitment to public safety. Delivery of correctional services is also framed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and numerous Acts, regulations, policies, and international conventions.