Serving Time

CSC oversees an offender’s correctional process through several stages, from sentencing until Warrant Expiry Date (the end of their sentence), and beyond for offenders subject to a long-term supervision order. During the sentence, an offender has access to various programs and services designed to complement their correctional plans. The main goal is to ensure that eligible offenders safely return to the community.


CSC’s involvement in the criminal justice process begins once an offender has been sentenced by the court to serve a sentence of two or more years.

Intake Assessment

When an inmate first arrives in CSC custody, a full intake assessment is completed. During this assessment, information is gathered about the inmate and the offence from police, courts, victims, family members and the inmate. With this information, a correctional plan is developed. This plan is used to measure the inmate’s progress throughout his/her sentence.

Security Classification

In Canada, federal inmates are classified at a minimum, medium or maximum security level. When assessing an inmate’s security level, CSC must consider three factors:

  1. institutional adjustment
  2. escape risk
  3. risk to the public, in the event of an escape

CSC’s men’s institutions are classified by security level: maximum-, medium- or minimum-security. For women, all institutions are classified as multi-level, except for healing lodges. See Commissioner’s Directive 706: Classification of Institutions.

The Correctional Plan

A Correctional Plan is developed for each inmate. It outlines treatment and recommendations for rehabilitation. CSC then provides a broad range of programs to match their needs and address their risk of re-offending. The plan serves as a basis to monitor the inmate’s progress throughout their sentence.

Case Management

Case management is an ongoing process. It includes assessing, informing, counselling, motivating, planning programs and supervising an inmate throughout his/her sentence. Each inmate is assigned a Case Management Team (CMT).

The team includes:

  • a Correctional Officer
  • a Parole Officer
  • a Manager of Assessment and Intervention (MAI)
  • an Aboriginal Liaison Officer (if applicable)
  • an Elder (if applicable)

The team members work together to support the inmate’s rehabilitation efforts. They develop and evaluate the inmate’s behaviour, work performance, and the progress he/she is making in his/her correctional plan.

Daily Routine in an Institution

An inmate's day follows the routine of the institution. That routine is based on the institution’s security classification. On a regular day, inmates may be involved in programs, educational activities, or job training.

A typical weekday schedule:

  • 06:45 – Inmate count
  • 07:00 – Breakfast
  • 08:00 – Go to program, work or back to the cell or room
  • 11:45 – Return to cell or room for inmate count and lunch
  • 13:00 – Go to program, work or back to cell or room
  • 16:30 – Return to cell or room for inmate count and then supper
  • 18:00 – Go to recreation, cultural events, self-help groups, etc.
  • 22:30 – Night inmate count
  • 23:00 – Lock-up and lights out

Informal inmate counts also take place several times a day, without interrupting activities. During the night, Correctional Officers make regular rounds to ensure inmates are safe and in their cells or rooms, between lock-up and morning count.

Inmate Transfers

When an inmate is moved from one institution to another, it is called an inmate transfer. Inmate transfers happen for different reasons. Sometimes they happen because of a change in his/her security classification level, for easier access to programs, for court purposes, etc. The transfer can be within the same region, or to a new region. CSC also processes international transfers of inmates to and from Canada. Please see Commissioner’s Directive 710-2 Inmate Transfers

Case Preparation for Release

There are various forms of release to the community. Some release decisions are granted by the warden of the institution and others are based on decisions by the Parole Board of Canada. Releases include:

  • Temporary Absences
  • Work Releases
  • Day Parole
  • Full Parole
  • Statutory Release
  • Long-Term Supervision Order

Before being considered for release, the inmate must prepare a detailed release plan. This includes information about where he/she would like to be released, the support network he/ she has available, employment or education plans, as well as intended leisure activities.

Risk of re-offending is assessed and a strategy for the offender's transition to the community is developed. The institutional Parole Officer and the community Parole Officer work together with the inmate to create a viable plan. After gathering the necessary information, the Parole Officer prepares the required documents. Either a positive or a negative recommendation is sent to the Parole Board of Canada for decisions under its authority.

In any inmate-related decision, CSC takes into account the protection of society, including any victims, as paramount for consideration.

CSC’s Role in the Parole Board of Canada Reviews

When the inmate is being considered for various forms of conditional release to the community, CSC makes sure that appropriate facilities are available for holding Parole Board of Canada (PBC) hearings. CSC supervises the inmate and coordinates the people attending PBC hearings at institutions or Parole Offices. CSC also coordinates all the necessary security clearances. In addition to PBC members, hearing officers, and CSC parole officers, people attending a hearing may include:

  • victims
  • victim representatives
  • an inmate’s assistant
  • interpreters
  • observers
  • Aboriginal cultural advisors and/or Elders.

To find out more about the hearing process, take a virtual tour of a parole hearing.

Community Corrections

Research shows that offenders are more likely to become law-abiding citizens if they participate in a program of gradual, supervised release. Because of this, most federal offenders serve the first part of their sentence in an institution and the last part in the community. A release to the community helps offenders adjust to life outside the institution. After a thorough assessment, offenders whose level of risk for committing new crimes is judged to be manageable and offenders who seem unlikely to break certain rules may be granted conditional release. This is also known as parole and statutory release. Once offenders are released, they must abide by a set of standard and sometimes special conditions. If they do not abide by their conditions, their risk is re-assessed and they may be sent back to an institution.

Learn more about Parole and Community Corrections.

Warrant Expiry Date

Federal offenders must be released, by law, at the end of their sentence – Warrant Expiry Date. This means, CSC and PBC no longer have the authority to impose release conditions or supervise them, except for offenders who are subject to a Long-Term Supervision Order (LTSO).

A court-ordered LTSO extends the length of time CSC can supervise and support an offender in the community, for up to 10 years. The LTSO starts once the offender reaches his/her Warrant Expiry Date.

Learn more about Long-Term Supervision Order (LTSO).

After Warrant Expiry Date

If safety becomes a concern after Warrant Expiry Date, there are legal options available to the victims, staff and the community. These are outlined in the Criminal Code, under section 810.