Canadian prisons reflect the Canadian population: inmates and staff share various origins, racial, religious and ethnic backgrounds.
Canadian laws and values are reflected in how sentences are served and release is determined.
In this video, you will see how the Correctional Service of Canada, known as CSC in short, takes into account the Canadian values and the ethnocultural differences during detention and in preparation of returning inmates to a lawful life in society.
You will also see how families, volunteers and community supports of ethnocultural offenders can contribute to their successful reintegration in society.
As well, you will meet employees and volunteers of CSC as they share their experiences of working with offenders within the institutions and upon release.
Approximately 9,000 Canadians, from all walks of life, volunteer at Correctional Service of Canada - helping in our institutions as well as in the community.
Volunteers contribute to a variety of institutional-based programs including chaplaincy, classroom and workshop instruction, recreational, social and cultural activities.
Volunteers also support families of incarcerated offenders and help released offenders re-adjust to life in the community.
Canada is proud to have a transparent judicial system, one which treats offenders with respect and dignity.
This is how it works: An individual is arrested, charged for an offence, and tried in an open court of law under the provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada.
If the offender is found guilty, the judge imposes a sentence and CSC carries out the sentence of 2 years or more. Shorter sentences are handled by provincial authorities.
The mandate of the Correctional Service of Canada is to contribute to the maintenance of a safe, just and peaceful society by carrying out court imposed sentences.
CSC does this through the safe and humane custody and supervision of offenders.
Our routines, operations, daily decisions and procedures are based on federal legislation and policies, whose primary consideration are the safety and security of public, staff, volunteers and offenders.
We encourage and prepare offenders to adopt a lawful life. For offenders of different ethnocultural backgrounds, we take into account their unique differences and needs.
The same considerations are granted when understanding the needs of women. Men and women are incarcerated in separate facilities.
CSC has adopted an approach that considers the whole person when dealing with specific needs of male, female, Aboriginal and Ethnocultural offenders.
Upon entry, each offender is provided with an orientation to the facility and made aware of their rights and responsibilities.
(male1) All right. Anytime you're on the phone or anything like that we have the capability of recording if we need to. Just sign right there.
(male2)You've got your inmate handbook which explains the rules and the things that are related to your rights and things that should or shouldn't happen in this unit.
After the orientation, the individual undergoes a review called the Offender Intake Assessment, completed within 90 days.
During this process, information about the inmate and the offence are gathered from many different sources including police, courts, victims, family members and the offender.
Various assessment tools, including psychological assessments are utilised. Once the offenders' risk and correctional needs are defined, a document called the Correctional Plan is developed to address the specific factors that led to the individual's criminal behaviour.
(male 3) You've undergone a number of assessments for substance abuse, a psychological risk assessment, education assessment you've done all those tests, the results of all those tests have been forwarded on to me and I've reviewed all of the information available with respect to your case.
The Correctional Plan provides in detail the programs, interventions and activities meant to address the offender's criminal behaviour during his sentence.
The Correctional Plan becomes an assessment tool of progress during incarceration and while under supervision in the community.
Some ethnic offenders could be referred to ESL if language is a barrier to accessing the programs. Basic language skills will assist in helping offenders to secure employment and be more successful in the community.
(female 1) Many offenders may not have an adequate level of education, majority of them are at a grade 8 level. Becoming successfully employed becomes a challenge since most employers require a high school graduation or equivalent.
In jobs requiring trade skills such as construction, completion of grade 10 becomes necessary to ensure the individual is able to apply some basic mathematics.
(male 3) What level of education have you achieved
(male 4) Uh, Grade 11.
(male 3) Grade 11? Okay... And are you interested and motivated to complete the remainder of your education up to grade 12?
(male 4) Yeah, yeah
Offenders' progress on the Correctional Plan is monitored through their sentence; inmates are expected to be involved in their assessment and to take an active role in programs and activities to complete their Correctional Plan.
Some offenders need to learn how to become involved in pro-social activities and the types of activities that may be available. This is done through inmates participating in social programs.
(male 5)As a social programs officer, my responsibilities with the institution are for rehabilitation mostly to do with leisure activities. So we have a hobby program where they can go and work in the shop.
They actually work with wood working tools and they develop skills in lathe work and working with saws and doing carving and painting and that sort of thing.
We also have a gym program and they could do lapse in the yard.
Beyond the daily efforts of ensuring a safe custody, CSC assists in the rehabilitation of offenders and their reintegration into the community as law-abiding citizens through the provision of programs in penitentiaries and in the community.
An offender begins to prepare for his release in the initial stages of his sentence. Once the Correctional Plan is developed, an offender is enrolled in the programs that are outlined in the Correctional Plan.
Programs are designed to address issues such as criminal attitudes and beliefs, violence, family violence, sexual offending, drugs and alcohol abuse.
(male 6) One of the ways we check to see if an offender is able to grasp from the knowledge and skills that we offer in his process of rehabilitation back into the community, we do a thorough assessment at the intake stage where we look at the factors at play that led to the index offense.
(male 7) We're continuing in module 7. We're on session 9, and today we're going to be talking about how to challenge your thinking using the skill CPR
(male 6) One of the things that might be a concern is a language for instance, how do we deal with an offender that comes from a diverse background and has a language barrier and needs to take a program. Well, one of the big things we offer is ESL programs within the institution.
While Correctional Programs address the criminal attitudes, the Vocational Programs prepare offenders for employment and educational programs offer the opportunity to complete grade 12.
We believe that taking into account the unique needs of ethnocultural offenders actually helps them meet the requirements of their correctional plan.
All avenues are pursued to allow ethnocultural offenders to participate in programs. Group facilitators are provided with cultural awareness training to ensure they are prepared to handle culturally sensitive situations.
The service is becoming a representative workforce of our multicultural society and this diversity is reflected in our staff.
(male 6) We have staff members that are continuously supporting the offenders because they understand the language, the culture, the religion.Many staff members speak other languages, than our two official languages, which is helpful in establishing communication, and providing assistance.
The day to day living conditions for incarcerated individuals are an important aspect of Correctional Service of Canada. Consideration is given to accommodate various religious customs.
To fulfil their requirements, CSC considers and allows when reasonable traditional dress such as turbans or sacred scriptures such as the Quran.
The meals meet the federal health and nutritional guidelines. Special considerations can be taken into account for medical or cultural and religious reason. such as halaal, vegetarian or vegan diets.
The safety and security of staff, volunteers and inmates is an integral aspect of CSC's mandate.
Correctional Officers also known as CX staff work in various capacities to ensure this happens. Correctional Officers create and maintain relationships with inmates to assist in various aspects of incarceration as well as trying to identify and resolve problems and issues.
(male 8) The role of the CX Staff at first is the security. Conducting security rounds, searches, having case load, managing inmate population, reporting of incidents.
They provide assistance with booking visits, approving phone calls and visiting applications.
Vocational skills training is an option for all offenders but those less fluent in English or French can also participate in these programs.
Through various work assignments and vocational training opportunities linked to labour market requirements, offenders can also obtain trade certifications such as construction techniques, welding and culinary arts, just to name a few.
Certification is provided by third party organizations such as Colleges and Industry Training Authorities. After successful completion, some inmates may be eligible for work release programs in the community.
(female 1) Some of the barriers to employment for our offenders are areas where they haven't really worked full-time in any type of a job so they don't have a lot of experience. They also work in other areas where they might have a deficit in showing up on time, keeping a job, and being able to provide the skill sets necessary.
Education and training are strongly encouraged within the institution because offenders with training are able to attain and keep employment, and are less likely to re-offend.
Jobs and responsibilities of attending and completing programs within the institutions allow offenders to practice their skills and work ethic.
(female 1) Well there's two types of jobs that are able to obtain while you're working within the Correctional Service of Canada. The two jobs that are available are institutional jobs which will be jobs like cleaner, working in the kitchen, working in our institutional services.
Offenders may also be employed at jobs around the institutions other areas such as textiles, manufacturing or construction. Offenders will continue to be supported in finding and keeping employment once they are released into the community.
The ability to reintegrate will assist in keeping individuals from re-offending, creating safer communities.Aboriginal offenders can also pursue activities meant to reconnect with their cultural needs and practice their belief system, under the guidance of Elders, considered on the same footing as spiritual leaders of any faith.
Having healthy role models as well as leaders who can instil the strength and wisdom of First Nations people has a powerful influence on aboriginal offenders.
(male 9) We have institutional elders that specifically work with all the men and we also have some program elders that work specifically with programs.
(female 2)When I first started, I really didn't know what I was walking into and the more I became involved with it I guess more of the grandmother came out in me. What I found really rewarding is the change from the beginning of the program till the end is how they had grown.
You could see them using the new tools that they had learned in just taking control in their everyday life and how to deal with things. Preparing for return to the community involves maintaining significant social contacts.
Healthy models and connections have proven to be great motivations to change. Healthy contacts with community members will allow a smoother transition for offenders upon release.
Cultural groups from the community can volunteer their time to interact with inmates and be a source of positive support as offenders transition into the community.
Cultural contacts can provide offenders with positive opportunities to maintain their cultural heritage. Many times offenders are lacking a sense of belonging, and understanding their identity can be an important piece of the rehabilitation process.
Whether it is for cultural or religious reasons, Correctional Service of Canada is interested in exploring possible partnerships with ethnic community groups; to connect ethnic offenders with appropriate and necessary resources to help them become law abiding citizens.
(male 5) A lot of these fellows don't have support in the community, their families disown them or whatever. The community contact helps them by having some contact and knowing that when they leave they have some support.
Through their day-to-day lives in the institution it takes on a better look it's more optimistic, so it really does help them on a day-to-day basis as well.
Faith leaders meet with offenders at scheduled times in the institutions and community.
Correctional Services of Canada has contracted chaplaincy services for many faith groups such as Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, and Buddhist.
Most Chaplaincy programs and services are supported and accompanied by volunteers from the community at large.
Volunteers can assist offenders by offering a spiritual base, teaching empathy and contributing to the rehabilitation process.
(male 10) The services that are provided range from the obvious which is around spirituality, I think most of the men and women in the prison are really in a place of understanding that they need to be assessed and evaluated and that's a big part of the lived experience day in and day out and when they come to see one of chaplains any one of us there is a message that there is something of deep value within you here and now just the way you are with a challenge to change to grow and so there is something about a message or a relationship that's offered to them either from the chaplains or volunteers that speaks to their value.[>
The role of chaplains is to provide fellowship, worship services as well as faith-based activities and interventions.
(male 11) I think the chapel is the best platform for them, to understand each other.
Inmates have the right to choose visitors, family, friends and support groups and to provide them with visiting forms to apply for visitation.
Staff members review each application individually. Visitors to the institution are screened and cleared before admittance.
An inmate can also make an application and arrange to get a family visit. Upon approval, an offender's family members and children accompanying their legal guardian can stay with the offender in a designated home on the facility premises.
It is the priority for Correctional Service of Canada to keep institutions safe for everyone and therefore, there is zero tolerance for drugs or alcohol.
Approved visitors need to bring two pieces of identification for verification. Everyone and their belongings are x-rayed upon arrival to the institution.
Individuals will be arrested and charged if they are caught bringing contraband into the institutions.
(male 8) We have tools we use at the front gate such as the ion scanner, very much like they use at the airport. We have drug dogs.
We have just staff making observation, and we also have Correctional managers like myself who will conduct threat risk assessment on people coming into the institution.
The Drug Detector Dog Program, introduced in CSC in 2001, has proved to be of great value.
(female 3)So has anyone here not been searched by a drug dog before?
Both the dogs and staff handling the dogs are specifically trained. The dogs are clean, respectful and friendly in nature. They are not meant to be guard dogs.
The dogs accurately and quickly detect drugs both within the penitentiary and on visitors. Volunteers and family members can provide a sense of hope for offenders, which can assist offenders to become contributing citizens of society.
Volunteers can be a part of the citizen advisory committees. The Committees represent the views of the community and contribute to the public's understanding of the correctional process.
Each region in CSC also has a Regional Ethnocultural Advisory Committee to assist in the identification of the needs and cultural interests of ethnic minority group offenders. Committee members are volunteers with experience and expertise from diverse backgrounds that also assist CSC in educating the ethnic communities on CSC's mandate.
Correctional Service of Canada works with its community partners and volunteers to create safer communities.
The involvement of family members and volunteers contributes towards enhancing public safety. People from ethnic communities can volunteer or become involved in the offenders' reintegration; a web-site address is listed for you to contact a staff member to begin your volunteering experience.
Offenders who are released under supervision into the community are supervised to ensure they are meeting the expectations and guidelines.
The supervision period allows offenders an opportunity to readjust to the day to day challenges of living in the community after years of restrictions.
(female 4)When individuals are incarcerated for a period of time, they often lose touch with how they could naturally function in the community: Everything from employment to a sense of belonging, to a connection with their family...To, adjusting to a new routine.
Its almost like being, well you are, you're completely in a new environment and there are certain expectations of you when you're released.
(female 4) We have volunteers that start at all points in the correctional process, and these volunteers often can follow the individual throughout their sentence. Some volunteers begin volunteering with the offender when they are actually released into the community.
Housing for offenders upon release is an important issue and the ethnic communities can assist in a few different ways. Volunteers from community organizations can assist by understanding the specific needs of ethnocultural offenders and providing assistance at residency facilities called half-way houses.
(female 4) The halfway houses are run by community organizations that offer numerous services within the halfway house setting to support the individual in terms of adjusting back to the community.
This is when offenders are transitioning from incarceration to residing in the community.
The support during this time can make a significant difference.
Most offenders would like to succeed as productive and law-abiding citizens and require access to health care, a safe place to live, and meaningful employment to support their reintegration efforts.
For ethnocultural offenders meeting these basic needs sometimes can be difficult.
Employers and community groups play an important role in the reintegration process.
(male 6) One of the biggest things that's required for change is support, and not only is it the onus on the facilitators and staff but family members as well.
It is recognised that even the best trained and most motivated offenders need acceptance from employers willing to give them a second chance.
It is recognised that ethnocultural offenders may face some additional challenges such as language and cultural barriers.
(female 4) These individuals come from our communities and are returning to our communities and if we're able to support them in their release then we're less likely to see crime be perpetuated because there is a lack of support.
This video is intended to reach out to those interested in making a difference for everyone through their contributions as family members, employers, volunteers and community members.
CSC believes in working collaboratively with community partners to enhance public safety.
You have had an opportunity to see the role of the Correctional Service of Canada and its mandate.
As you've learnt, inmates can benefit from the support of family members, volunteers, employers and community groups to help them reintegrate back into society.We hope you will take the time to be involved in the important work of the Correctional Service of Canada and make a difference in your community.