Volunteering in the Correctional Service of Canada
The Institutional and Community Correctional Environment
Physical Environment: Security
Institutions are classified as maximum, medium, minimum or multi-level security facilities. These ratings dictate behavioural norms that define expected behaviour for inmates at each security level, and the degree of control required to maintain the good order of the institution and to protect staff, inmates and the public. Correctional Service Canada (CSC) is responsible for 57 institutions in Canada. Out of the 57, five are regional mental health facilities, five are regional women’s institutions, and five are designated aboriginal facilities.
Offenders who pose a serious risk to the community, staff, and other offenders are housed in maximum-security institutions. The perimeter is well defined, highly secure and highly controlled. The movement of offenders is strictly regulated and supervised.
Offenders who are considered a risk to the safety of the community are housed in these institutions. The perimeter is well defined, secure and controlled. Inmate movement and association are regulated and supervised.
Offenders who pose a low risk to the safety of the community are housed in these institutions. The perimeter is defined but not directly controlled. Freedom of movement, association and privileges are moderately restricted. A minimum-security institution is often the offender’s last stop before re-entering society.
Offenders with varying security classifications are housed in separate secure areas of the institution.
Regional Treatment Centres
The needs of male offenders requiring in-patient treatment beds are primarily met through the Regional Treatment Centres. For women offenders with significant mental health needs, separate units have been established at each of the women’s facilities with the provision for a higher level of staffing and program intervention.
There are 71 parole offices, grouped into 32 area offices within eight districts. Each office has parole officers responsible for supervising conditionally released offenders in the community.
Community Correctional Centres
CSC has 16 community correctional centres across Canada, which are designated as minimum-security institutions. Offenders on day parole or other forms of conditional release are housed in these facilities. Each centre has a director, support staff, parole officers, and program officers who work together to supervise and provide programs for offenders to prepare them for full parole or statutory release.
Community-Based Residential Facilities
There are 175 of these facilities across Canada, providing accommodation and 24 hour supervision, counselling and programming to help offenders reintegrate successfully into the community. These halfway houses are operated by non-profit agencies or private corporations contracted by CSC.
Institutional Emergency Situations
There are times when emergencies occur in federal correctional facilities. Some of these situations are a result of offenders’ actions while others are not. Some emergency circumstances result in lockdowns of institutions or various types of searches of either persons or cells. Emergencies can include such things as major disturbances, escapes, assaults, as well as captive and barricade situations. The goals of CSC in responding to emergencies are to:
- Isolate and contain the emergency as soon as possible;
- Ensure personal safety;
- Prevent escapes;
- Minimize damage to property;
- Resolve using minimum level of force; and
- Restore order as soon as possible.
All institutions have a Crisis Management Team Model in place to deal with emergencies along with a contingency plan that directs and guides staff in responding to emergencies. All CSC volunteers must follow the direction of staff and stay in their assigned areas until directed otherwise.
It is important that you learn the rules and regulations associated with the institutions and community offices. With a clear understanding of the security issues while working in the correctional environment, you will contribute to the overall safety of yourself, the staff and the offender. Your initial training includes security issues such as code of conduct and confidentiality, offender rights, manipulation, appropriate and inappropriate behaviour, institutional security/ community security, contraband, and use of force.
Correctional Service of Canada Organization