Overview of community corrections

The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) protects society by monitoring and supervising offenders, as well as by helping them change the attitudes and behaviours that led them to criminal activity. Offenders make the first steps toward change in the prison setting. Prison programs help to prepare an offender for eventual release by promoting law-abiding lifestyles and behaviours. However, if the change is to last, it must continue in the community, where almost all offenders eventually return.

The transition from incarceration to freedom can be difficult. Offenders have a better chance of success if they receive supervision, opportunities, training and support within the community.

Community corrections is a combination of three inter-related activities:

Fact Sheet: Community Corrections contains information on community-based residential facilities and statistics on the number of inmates in the community.


Supervision is the direct monitoring of and communication with offenders. It is carried out by CSC community staff. In some cases, CSC contracts independent agencies/people to provide case management services in the community.

All offenders on conditional release are supervised whether they live in the city or in remote parts of the country. The degree of supervision depends on the individual. Offenders who are considered "high risk" will require closer monitoring. Those who are considered "low risk" require less monitoring. Staff rely on an array of information sources, such as police, family members and program staff, to monitor offenders. By being aware of the offender's situation, staff can help ensure that they stay on track. They can take action when the offender breaks rules or help solve problems that could lead to a re-offence.


Research shows that supervision alone does not help offenders change. However, supervision combined with good programming does work. Correctional programs address the risk levels and specific criminogenic needs of the offender population. They are a relevant, effective means of enhancing public safety and reducing reoffences.

Community maintenance

Community maintenance programs help offenders enhance their self-management during their transition to the community. The main objectives for these programs are to reduce an offender's risk of reoffending.

Through the programs offenders review core self-management skills and apply them to real-life situations, obstacles, and high-risk situations. This allows offenders to gain, rehearse, and maintain recidivism-reducing skills.

All participants who complete a main program at any intensity level, and in any stream area, are assessed and considered for maintenance programs. This supports the gains they have already achieved within the program.

Community programs are also offered to all men offenders who should have, but did not participate in, correctional programming before their release to the community. This does not replace the programming they should have received but it does provide a foundation which they can build upon through subsequent participation in the Community Maintenance Program.

These programs also provide parole officers with an additional resource to manage risk and monitor an offender’s progress in the community.

Programming for Indigenous and women offenders

Programs for Indigenous offenders are Elder-assisted. They are designed to be culturally appropriate and to strike a balance between a healing and a skills-based approach.


CSC offers the following programs for women:

  • the Women Offender Correctional Programs
  • the Indigenous Women Offender Correctional Programs

These programs are designed to address the unique needs of women offenders serving federal sentences. Both models include a program component for offenders released to the community.

The two programs designed specifically to support women offenders as they continue to make and maintain positive changes in the community are:

  • the Women Offender Self-Management Program
  • the Indigenous Women Offender Self-Management Program

These programs focus on enhancing strengths, solidifying coping strategies, and increasing self-awareness. They also help women offenders develop, strengthen, implement and maintain self-management/healing plans.

Community involvement

Community involvement is essential to both supervision and programming. CSC staff rely on community contacts for important information on offenders that helps the supervision process. People in the community may learn, for example, that the offender has violated conditions or is in an emotional crisis, and relay this information to CSC.

Agencies and individuals in the community also deliver programs or reinforce program activities. They act as counsellors, role models, and support networks. In addition, community involvement means the community is willing to accept those offenders who reform themselves.

An offender’s success in starting fresh depends partly on their own efforts and partly on the opportunities provided by the community at large.

Strategic principles

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