Risk management is the focus of work for the Correctional Service of Canada. The management of the offender's risk commences the day the offender receives a federal sentence and remains to the day the warrant expires.
Risk management in the community involves services to continue the risk management plan developed in the institution. It is critical that the assessment and plan for reintegration are used to help the offender become re-established in the community.
In doing its work, CSC must take the safety concerns and human rights of many groups into account, including the general public, crime victims, CSC staff and even offenders themselves. All these groups have specific needs and rights that must be balanced. Offenders have a right to humane treatment; therefore, the Corrections and Conditional Release Act directs CSC not to use measures more restrictive than necessary, in administering an offender's sentence.
At the same time, other groups must be protected from any safety threats that offenders might pose. The key to achieving a balance is assessing and managing risk. Some offenders pose more of a potential danger than others; moreover, an offender's risk potential may change over time, and in different situations. Many factors must be weighed in evaluating risk, such as the offender's criminal record, attitude, social problems, including substance abuse or family violence and motivation to change.
As soon as a sentence is imposed, CSC begins assessing risk and preparing for the day the offender will be released. Community staff gather information about the offender from different sources such as families, police, court, victims and members of the public. Information gathering continues throughout the prison term and during conditional release. Such information helps CSC manage offenders while they are in custody, determine readiness for conditional release and monitor and support those who are back in the community. Staff draw on a large body of research on offenders and sophisticated analytical tools in measuring risk. These tools, along with information files and staffs professional experience and judgement, help to determine whether an offender can safely and successfully return to the community.