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