Beyond the Fence: A virtual tour of a Canadian penitentiary - Entrances

Institutions are busy places where many people -- including staff, volunteers and family members, --enter through the principal entrance. There are different entrance processes for offenders, visitors, and staff. Offenders enter through a separate secure entrance known as the Admission and Discharge area.

When visitors first arrive at an institution, they must sign in, show identification, and provide the reason for their visit. Visitors then go through a standard search which can include a metal detector, ion scanner, and x-ray machine. If there is suspicion that a visitor is carrying contraband, he or she may face a more thorough search by a Correctional Officer, a drug detector dog team, and interviews with a Correctional Manager. Staff members follow a similar process when coming in or out of the institution.

Security Desk

Upon arrival, you will be greeted by a Correctional Officer. You will be expected to provide government issued identification, including a piece of photo identification. You will then be processed through a security check using various non-intrusive search methods, such as a metal detector and ION scanner. All staff, including teachers, chaplains and correctional officers, must sign in and out when they begin and end their shift. They also go through a security check. This ensures the continued safety of the institution.

ION Scanner

ION ScannerThe ION Scanner may be used to detect drugs or drug residue on you or your personal items. You will be asked to provide a random article of a personal belonging (i.e. watch, shoe lace, etc) to be swabbed, and a Correctional Officer will check for drug residue by running the swab through a machine.

Metal Detector

Metal DetectorALL visitors will be processed using a walk-through metal detector similar to those seen at airports. You are required to place outer clothing, such as coats, and any metal items in the bin provided. These items will go through an x-ray machine while you walk through the metal detector. If the metal detector alarms, the Correctional Officer will use the hand held metal detector to ensure all metal has been removed. Items are also visually inspected by a Correctional Officer, and stored in a secure locker. All staff go through a similar process when they enter or leave the institution.

Admission and Discharge

Offender clothing in the Admission and Discharge areaWhen an offender first arrives at the institution, they enter through a separate and secure entrance into the Admission and Discharge area. The offender hands over their personal effects, which are stored until their release. Offenders may be authorized to keep some effects in their cells, provided they do not pose a safety or security concern. They are issued a standard package that consists of clothing, dishes, and toiletries. Offenders then begin an orientation process to prepare them for institutional life, including the programs needed to complete their correctional plan.

Before an offender is placed for their sentence, they undergo the Offender Intake Assessment. This process determines an offender’s risks and needs, security level, and identifies the necessary correctional interventions and programming through their Correctional Plan. This process is also used to identify individual needs, including mental or physical health issues, and cultural or social needs. CSC’s goal is to place offenders at the appropriate security level and address their program needs. This contributes to the offender’s timely and safe return to the community as law-abiding citizens.


Before visiting an inmate, visitors must be screened and their name is placed on an approved list. Additional screening of both the inmate and visitors is required before a visit is approved. A visiting and application form, along with other documentation, must be submitted to the institution so a security screening process can be completed. This ensures there is no risk to the security of the institution or to the personal safety of staff, inmates, or visitors.

All visitors are given a list of rules that apply to the visiting area before they come for the first visit. Failure to abide by these rules may result in a person being asked to leave the institution and their visiting privileges may be suspended.

Drug Detector Dog

Drug Detector DogCSC uses detector dogs to determine the presence of drugs in federal institutions. The dogs are non aggressive and will not touch you unless by accident (such as a nose touch when sniffing). You are expected to remain still with your hands by your side while the dog handler takes his/her dog around you. During this process, visitors are asked not to speak to the dog or its handler. First-time visitors will also watch a short video on keeping drugs out of institutions so that they are aware of the consequences of bringing drugs or other contraband into the institution.