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Human Rights In Community Corrections

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Human Rights in Community Corrections :
Report of the Working Group on Human Rights

HIGHLIGHTS

The Working Group on Human Rights found that:

  • On the whole, Canada's conditional release system follows internationally-recognized principles that an offender should be incarcerated only when there is no other reasonable alternative, and that the offender should be eligible for community release at the earliest possible stage in their sentence.
  • CSC faces a complex task in balancing the rights of offenders living in the community against legitimate public safety concerns.
  • The Service must put the "community" back in community corrections, to help Canadians understand that public safety is enhanced when social, citizen and volunteer agencies are involved in the reintegration of offenders.
  • When CSC applies control measures on offenders living in the community, such as surprise home visits and employment verification checks, two main human rights criteria must be followed. First, the measure must be reasonable and necessary; and second, its application must be consistent with the least restrictive correctional measure available.
  • The small number of women offenders living in the community creates unique human rights challenges with respect to their access to various forms of treatment, accommodation, counseling and health support services. While the easiest solution would be to co-locate them in men's facilities, the report recommends CSC explore alternative residency requirements, including private home placements.
  • Aboriginal offenders are overrepresented in the federal correctional system, they have higher rates of recidivism and parole revocation, and they tend to be released further in their sentences than non-Aboriginal offenders. To respond to the unique problems facing Aboriginal offenders, the Service should make better use of the Section 81 and 84 provisions of the CCRA, which allow CSC to enter into agreements with Aboriginal communities for the provision of community correctional programs for Aboriginal offenders.
  • Victims' groups are concerned about the early release of some offenders, the consultation process when locating halfway houses in communities, and their inability to make oral statements at National Parole Board hearings. The Service should be more responsive in informing victims of their rights, including how those rights can be exercised at the most appropriate point in the sentence administration process.
  • CSC employees are concerned with three main areas relating to human rights: working conditions (e.g. case loads, personal safety, prompt and fair redress of grievances), clarity and responsiveness of CSC's anti-harassment policy, and increased representation of visible minorities among parole officers.