We are the Correctional Service of Canada.
Our mission: as part of the criminal justice system and respecting the rule of law, we contribute to public safety by actively encouraging and assisting offenders to become law-abiding citizens, while exercising reasonable, safe, secure and humane control.
We do this with pride and passion… for the people of Canada.
In the early days before Confederation, the correctional system was truly one of crime and punishment: people who broke the law suffered harsh consequences, often in public.
Toward the middle of the 19th century, new ideas about corrections began to take shape, and our first prison, the "Provincial Penitentiary of Upper Canada" at Kingston, Ontario was created. Others soon followed across the nation.
Throughout the early part of the 20th century, increasing attention was paid to Canada's penitentiary system, and governments looked for ways to improve conditions and find more effective ways to rehabilitate offenders.
After the Second World War, new penitentiaries were built, including separate facilities for young adult male offenders, and formal training of penitentiary officers became the norm.
Although prison life was difficult, offenders were given permission to take up hobbies and play selected sports, to listen to radio and subscribe to newspapers.
In 1959, the National Parole Board was founded to support and supervise parolees re-entering the community.
Through the 1960s and 70s, new approaches to rehabilitation and reintegration were adopted to ease offenders back into society, including gradual release programs and Day Parole, Full Parole and halfway houses, Community Correctional Centers and Residential Facilities.
Today, there is increasing focus on the health of offenders, and broad changes have taken place regarding women, and Aboriginal offenders.
Contemporary strategies include new regional facilities for women and Healing lodges.
The people of the Correctional Service of Canada are guided by our core values:
We respect the dignity of individuals, the rights of all members of society, and the potential for human growth and development.
We recognize that the offender has the potential to live as a law-abiding citizen.
We believe that our strength and our major resource in achieving our objectives is our staff and that human relationships are the cornerstone of our endeavour.
We believe that the sharing of ideas, knowledge, values, and experience, nationally and internationally, is essential to the achievement of our Mission.
We believe in managing the Service with openness and integrity.
We do so under the leadership of the Commissioner of Corrections, who is accountable to the Minister of Public Safety of Canada.
I believe without a doubt that the Correctional Service of Canada is by far one of the finest correctional systems that we have operating in the world.
We know we're world leaders because we've contributed across the world to many different jurisdictions.
Part of what makes that unique for us is that not only do we assist other countries in their correctional systems, but we learn from other systems as well.
We learn and we are ready to adapt to the changing needs of our offender profile.
If you believe that people can change, then it makes it much easier to do what you are supposed to do as a Parole Officer; which is to motive, encourage, and support offenders in making healthy changes and lifestyle choices, and in return helping them reintegrate into community and into their families.
People can change.
It doesn't take a lot of time. One day, one action can make all the difference in the world.
Our programs include a range of services for offenders, all aimed at increasing social and life skills and employability, and helping achieve the goal of reintegration.
We also have programs for a wide variety of stakeholder groups and customers, responding to new needs with progressive approaches and involving communities, criminal justice partners, volunteers, and family members of both offenders and victims.
It is essential to offer a range of programs because corrections is a complex, constantly-evolving area that must respond to social change at many levels, and to offenders that present with an increasing variety of problems relating to their behaviour.
It's nice to make a difference.
I don't go in there thinking I'm going to save the world or change somebody, but if I can just maybe point them in a certain direction, or if they came to class one day and they didn't know something and they left at the end of the day and they did know something, then my job is done. That's a reward in itself.
While they're in the institution, not only are they working towards learning about who they are as a native person, but they are also addressing what we call the dynamic or high-risk factors in their person, which cause them to come into the prison system.
The prison population is very much like what we see in Canada - a mini society.
You see all walks of life, and that goes the same for the officers who work there, we have officers from all walks of life.
We are all there working together, and the inmates see this as well.
Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to work in security. I like the fact that every day it's different.
My job in the community is to try to get them to establish themselves.
Get a good foundation, build roots, make connections with positive people, stay away from negative associates, build a different circle of friends or a different circle of support.
And that takes a lot of leg work and sometimes it takes a lot of hand holding, but it's all worth it.
The Correctional Service of Canada is about people:
We are 16,000 men and women, working in 57 institutions, 84 parole offices, 16 community correctional centers, four healing lodges, one national and five regional headquarters across the country, and linking directly to communities of all sizes in Canada.
Together, we are responsible for the care and custody of approximately 13,000 offenders in institutions and the supervision of 8,000 offenders in the community.
Our staff are special people who make a choice to invest their careers in something that is important to every single citizen of this country, public safety, understanding that Canada's unique level of public safety is one of the characteristics that define this nation.
We are people who give an exemplary, advanced level of care, in extraordinary circumstances.
We work with offenders to help guide their transition from institution to community; helping them re-integrate with the safety of the community as our paramount concern.
The Correctional Service of Canada is about connecting people to hope and opportunity; connecting individuals to a variety of systems and communities to help them rebuild their lives.
Because at the end of the day, the future of a safe and secure Canada will be built one person at a time, through the strength of our dedication, our care, professionalism, vision, and engagement.
It is our privilege and our passion to be part of this extraordinary work.