Commissioner's Directive



Inmate Accommodation

Issued under the authority of the Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada


Policy Bulletin 383
Policy Bulletin 448



1. To provide reasonable, safe, secure and humane accommodation that supports correctional interventions.


2. Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA), sections 3, 3.1, 4, 5, 28, 69, 70, 87, 97 and 98

Corrections and Conditional Release Regulations, sections 4 and 83


3. This policy applies to all staff responsible for the accommodation of inmates within institutions, excluding Community Correctional Centres.


4. The Assistant Commissioner, Corporate Services, will:

  1. develop and maintain the CSCnational accommodation plans; and
  2. update the institutional rated capacities as required.

5. The Assistant Commissioner, Correctional Operations and Programs, and the Assistant Commissioner, Corporate Services, will jointly submit a recommendation to the Commissioner for decision regarding a Regional Deputy Commissioner’s request for authority to use:

  1. double-bunking cells at or exceeding 20% of the region’s rated capacity;
  2. double-bunking in administrative segregation; and
  3. double-bunking in cells less than five square metres.

6. The Assistant Commissioner, Correctional Operations and Programs, will:

  1. chair the National Population Management Committee; and
  2. distribute to Regional Deputy Commissioners, on a monthly basis, the National Rated Capacity Utilisation Report for validation and/or modification.

7. The Regional Deputy Commissioner will:

  1. ensure procedures are in place to implement the Regional Accommodation Plan;
  2. submit for approval, on a monthly basis, to the Assistant Commissioner, Corporate Services, and the Assistant Commissioner, Correctional Operations and Programs:
    1. proposed changes to the institutional rated capacity,
    2. any request and rationale to use double-bunking cells at or exceeding 20% of the region’s rated capacity,
    3. any planned use of double-bunking in segregation cells or cells smaller than five square metres, and
    4. when the actual percentage of the in-custody population is double-bunked at rates exceeding 20% or when double-bunking is occurring in segregation or in cells smaller than five square metres, strategies to mitigate risks and plans to reduce these respective double-bunking levels;
  3. immediately report via email to the Assistant Commissioner, Correctional Operations and Programs, double-bunking in administrative segregation or in cells smaller than five square metres; and
  4. make efforts to minimize double-bunking at sites through the use of voluntary intra-regional and inter-regional transfers as well as Exchange of Services Agreements where feasible.

8. The Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Institutional Operations, will:

  1. chair the Regional Population Management Committee (Institutional and Community) and report results to the National Population Management Committee; and
  2. provide a monthly report on cell utilization and double-bunking levels to the Assistant Commissioner, Correctional Operations and Programs, and the Assistant Commissioner, Corporate Services.

9. The Institutional Head:

  1. will manage the accommodation of inmates in the institution;
  2. may designate a staff member to be responsible for accommodation management within the institution or each unit. Normally, this person will be in a position equivalent to or higher than a Correctional Manager;
  3. will maintain a waitlist for single occupancy accommodation;
  4. may authorize dormitories in exceptional circumstances as short-term temporary measures;
  5. will ensure that inmate placement and movement are promptly recorded in the Offender Management System (OMS);
  6. may increase double-bunking cell capacity following consultation with the Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Institutional Operations, and authorization by the Regional Deputy Commissioner. Increases will be done when operationally feasible and take into full consideration the safety of staff and inmates;
  7. may make exceptions, as a temporary measure in an emergency situation, to the institutional accommodation plan. In these circumstances, the Institutional Head will immediately advise the Regional Deputy Commissioner, the Assistant Commissioner, Correctional Operations and Programs, and the Commissioner. He/she must also provide a rationale and specify the expected duration of the measure; and
  8. develop a Standing Order outlining the circumstances under which single cells may be re-assigned when an inmate is absent from the institution for an extended period.

10. Prior to placing any offender in a double-bunking or shared accommodation cell, the Correctional Manager will review and approve the double-bunking assessment for both inmates.

11. The double-bunking assessment will be based on input from Correctional Officers, Health Care staff, Security Intelligence Officer and any other relevant staff.


Safety Assessment

12. The Institutional Head or designated staff member will:

  1. prior to cell assignment, ensure that a double-bunking assessment is completed and a decision is entered in OMS;
  2. ensure that a new double-bunking assessment is completed in OMS for both inmates when planning a change in cell assignment;
  3. prior to cell assignment at maximum, medium, multi-level institutions, structured living environments and Secure Units in women’s institutions, complete a double-bunking assessment and National Cell Condition Checklist (CSC/SCC 1448) to identify all potential points of suspension, both non-removable (e.g. air vents) and removable (e.g. furniture, shelving) and other cell vulnerabilities (e.g. tampered or removed protective covers):
    1. if any of the above items are seen to have been tampered with, removed, or destroyed, this must be recorded in the Statement/ Observation Report (CSC/SCC 0875), and Plant Maintenance must be advised immediately. The form Maintenance and Repair Call (CSC/SCC 2011)will be completed, given priority and promptly actioned,
    2. the affected cell will be quarantined and considered non-operable, until such a time that the required maintenance has been completed, and
    3. at that time, a confirmation will be sent by Plant Maintenance personnel to the responsible Correctional Manager. The confirmation will include a final operational verification of the cell prior to the cell being reopened; and
    4. at minimum, complete a monthly National Cell Condition Checklist (CSC/SCC 1448) on each cell to identify blind spots, and potential points of suspension, both non-removable and removable, verifying that all protective covers and anti-suicide hooks have not been tampered with. If these items have been tampered with, the process in the preceding paragraphs and sub-paragraphs must be followed.

Exceptions to Cell Utilization for Two Inmates

13. Normally, the following cells will not be used to accommodate two inmates or more:

  1. segregation cells;
  2. Special Handling Unit cells;
  3. cells utilized for inmates receiving care for mental health issues;
  4. cells smaller than five square metres;
  5. cells with no direct or indirect natural light;
  6. cells designated and occupied by handicapped inmates except in shared accommodation;
  7. observation cells; and
  8. any cell purposefully designed as a dry cell.

Cell Assignment

14. Population management strategies must include single occupancy when feasible and ensure that double-bunking remains a temporary accommodation measure.

15. Normally, single occupancy accommodation will be assigned on a first come, first served basis through a unit or institution-wide waiting list. This is to ensure equitable access to single accommodation for all inmates.

16. Single occupancy will not be considered, assigned or withdrawn as either a reward or punishment.

17. Where single occupancy accommodation is not possible, shared accommodation or double-bunking accommodation will be utilized.

18. Co-convicted inmates will:

  1. not be accommodated in the same cell; and
  2. whenever possible, not be accommodated on the same range, unit, or in the same institution.

19. Inmates identified as incompatible will not be accommodated in the same cell or range. Incompatibility shall be managed in accordance with CD 568-7 – Management of Incompatible Offenders.

Institutional and Operational Unit Capacity

20. Normally, an institution will not exceed its design capacity.

21. Double-bunking will NOT exceed 20% of the overall regional rated capacity. Any increase above that level will require the Commissioner’s approval.

22. The minimum cell size standard for all new and replacement accommodation will be seven square metres for wet cells and six and a half square metres for dry cells.


23. Where it is necessary to accommodate two inmates in a cell, an assessment must be completed to determine who will share accommodation with whom. The assessment must consider the following criteria based on information available:

  1. For both offenders, the nature and gravity of their offences and the degree of responsibility of each offender.
  2. Compatibility – Is there an existing incompatibility issue between the inmates, as defined in  CD 568-7 – Management of Incompatible Offenders and as listed in OMS?
  3. Vulnerability – Does the inmate have a history of being victimized by others or is it assessed that there is a possibility that the inmate could be victimized by another inmate living in the same cell?
  4. Predatory/permissive behaviour – Does the inmate’s behaviour have the potential to undermine the safety and security of the inmate with whom he/she shares a cell?
  5. Preventive security considerations – Does preventive security information exist that suggests the inmates proposed to share a cell would jeopardize the safety and security of the institution or the safety and security of another person?
  6. Medical information – Does the inmate have a medical condition that would be negatively affected by placement in a cell with another inmate? This information should be confirmed through Health Services.
  7. Criminal profile – Does information exist in the criminal profile that suggests the inmate would pose a risk to the safety and security of another person if he/she were required to share a cell? The Case Management Team should be consulted when making this determination.
  8. Psychological information – Does information exist that indicates an inmate’s psychological health or psychological or psychiatric treatment would be negatively affected by placement in a cell with another inmate? This information should be confirmed through the Case Management Team or Psychological Services.
  9. Security threat group – Does the inmate have a past or current affiliation or membership to a security threat group?


24. Strategic Policy Division
National Headquarters




Original Signed by:

Don Head




Cell: a walled or partitioned area designed to accommodate one or two inmates.

Co-convicted offenders: offenders who were parties in the commission of an offence resulting in death or serious harm (section 99 of the CCRA), even though they may have been charged with different offences and received different sentences or may have been prosecuted at different times.

Design capacity: the approved number of beds in an institution at the time of its construction.

Dormitory: open area designed to house more than two inmates.

Double-bunking accommodation: cell designed for one inmate, but housing two inmates.

Incompatible offenders: offenders who pose a threat to the safety and well-being of each other and may present a risk to staff, the public or other offenders.

Rated capacity: design capacity taking into consideration any accommodation changes made over the years less the following: cells permanently used to house segregated inmates; suicide watch (observation); health care in non-psychiatric centres.

Security threat group: any formal or informal ongoing inmate/offender group, gang, organization or association consisting of three or more members. Most security threat groups encountered in a correctional setting fall into one of the following basic categories: street gangs, prison gangs, outlaw motorcycle gangs, traditional organized crime, Aboriginal gangs, white supremacy groups, subversive groups, terrorist organizations and hate groups.

Shared accommodation: a cell designed for two inmates.

Single occupancy: a cell occupied by one inmate.