CCRA Guiding Principles

One of the areas where the Safe Streets and Communities Act makes a number of changes is to the Principles of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA). These principles guide how CSC achieves its mandate. These include changes to:

Protection of society

This concept – that the protection of society is the most important consideration for CSC in the corrections process – is already part of the CCRA's Principles. Now, this concept has been given its own section in order to further underline its importance.

The nature and gravity of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the offender

Previously, the law said that every offender's sentence was to be carried out in looking at all relevant, available information, including:

  • reasons and recommendations of the sentencing judge;
  • information from the trial or sentencing process;
  • the release policies of and comments from the Parole Board of Canada (PBC); and,
  • information from victims and offenders.

Now, the law says an offender's sentence is to be carried out with two new additional factors to consider: the nature and gravity of the offence, and the degree of responsibility of the offender.

CSC already takes into account the seriousness of an offence while determining how a sentence will be managed. This will now be highlighted by adding it to the CCRA's Principles. Reference to the degree of responsibility of the offender in the Principles also emphasizes the role offenders play in their own rehabilitation.

Rights and privileges

Reference to the privileges of offenders have been removed from the CCRA's Principles, which previously said that "offenders retain the rights and privileges of all members of society, except those rights and privileges that are necessarily removed or restricted as a consequence of the sentence." It has been replaced with the new Principle that focuses on the rights of offenders that are "lawfully" removed or restricted.

CSC only restricts or removes rights from an offender according to the CCRA or other lawful authority. Privileges are not equated to rights, but granting or removing them will still require that it be done fairly and based on good correctional rationales.

The concept of measures that are "limited only to what is necessary and proportionate to attain the purposes of this Act"

This Principle of the CCRA has been updated to say that CSC use "measures that are consistent with the protection of society, staff members and offenders and that are limited to only what is necessary and proportionate to attain the purposes of this Act."

The updated wording now more clearly emphasizes the need to apply measures that are limited to only what is necessary and proportionate to attain the purposes of the CCRA. For CSC, this is to contribute to a just, peaceful and safe society by carrying out sentences, and to assist in the rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders.

This revised Principle reinforces the need to balance the interests of the person affected by the correctional decision or action with the purposes of the correctional system, including the safety of the public. This supports the basics of good corrections that have been the cornerstone of CSC's mission for many years.

For more information

To learn about upcoming or ongoing consultations on proposed federal regulations, visit the Canada Gazette and Consulting with Canadians websites.