Commissioner's Directive

Inmate Accommodation



  • To provide reasonable, safe, secure and humane accommodation that supports correctional interventions


Applies to all staff responsible for the accommodation of inmates within institutions, excluding Community Correctional Centres


  1. The Assistant Commissioner, Corporate Services, will:
    1. develop and maintain the CSC national accommodation plans
    2. update the institutional rated capacities as required.
  2. The Assistant Commissioner, Correctional Operations and Programs, and the Assistant Commissioner, Corporate Services, will jointly submit a recommendation to the Commissioner for decision regarding a Regional Deputy Commissioner’s request for authority to use:
    1. double-bunking cells at or exceeding 20% of the region’s rated capacity
    2. double bunking in cells as outlined in section Exceptions to Cell Utilization for Two Inmates.
  3. The Assistant Commissioner, Correctional Operations and Programs, will:
    1. chair the National Population Management Committee
    2. distribute to Regional Deputy Commissioners, on a monthly basis, the National Rated Capacity Utilisation Report for validation and/or modification.
  4. The Regional Deputy Commissioner will:
    1. ensure procedures are in place to implement the Regional Accommodation Plan in conjunction with national population management strategies
    2. submit for approval, on a monthly basis, to the Assistant Commissioner, Corporate Services, and the Assistant Commissioner, Correctional Operations and Programs:
      1. proposed changes to the institutional rated capacity
      2. any request and rationale to use double-bunking cells at or exceeding 20% of the region’s rated capacity
      3. any planned use of double bunking in cells as outlined in the section Exceptions to Cell Utilization for Two Inmates
      4. when the actual percentage of the in-custody population is double-bunked at rates exceeding 20% or when double bunking is occurring in segregation or in cells smaller than five square metres, strategies to mitigate risks and plans to reduce these respective double-bunking levels
    3. immediately report via email to the Assistant Commissioner, Correctional Operations and Programs, double bunking in segregation or in cells smaller than five square metres
    4. make efforts to minimize double bunking at sites through the use of voluntary intra-regional and inter-regional transfers as well as Exchange of Service Agreements, where feasible.
  5. The Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Correctional Operations, will::
    1. chair the Regional Population Management Committee (Institutional and Community) and report results to the National Population Management Committee
    2. provide a monthly report on cell utilization and double-bunking levels to the Assistant Commissioner, Correctional Operations and Programs, and the Assistant Commissioner, Corporate Services
    3. ensure implementation of and compliance with operational policies and administrative practices and procedures in relation to double bunking.
  6. The Institutional Head:
    1. will manage the accommodation of inmates in the institution
    2. may designate a staff member to be responsible for accommodation management within the institution or each unit. Normally, this person will be in a position equivalent to or higher than a Correctional Manager
    3. may authorize dormitories in exceptional circumstances as short-term temporary measures
    4. will ensure that inmate placement and movement are promptly recorded in the Offender Management System (OMS)
    5. may increase double-bunking cell capacity following consultation with the Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Correctional Operations, and authorization by the Regional Deputy Commissioner. Increases will be done when operationally feasible and take into full consideration the safety of staff and inmates
    6. may make exceptions, as a temporary measure in an emergency situation, to the institutional accommodation plan. In these circumstances, the Institutional Head will immediately advise the Regional Deputy Commissioner, the Assistant Commissioner, Correctional Operations and Programs, and the Commissioner. He/she must also provide a rationale and specify the expected duration of the measure
    7. will ensure that Standing Orders are developed, outlining the circumstances under which single cells may be re-assigned when an inmate is absent from the institution for an extended period.


  1. Population management strategies must include single occupancy when feasible and ensure that double bunking remains a temporary accommodation measure.
  2. Normally, single-occupancy accommodation will be assigned on a first come, first served basis through a unit or institution-wide waiting list. This is to ensure equitable access to single accommodation for all inmates. Pathways-designated cells are normally to be single-occupancy cells to facilitate the intensive healing process in which the inmates are participating.
  3. single-occupancy will not be considered, assigned or withdrawn as either a reward or punishment.
  4. The Institutional Head may give priority for a single cell to inmates with a precarious medical condition, a known mental health problem, or other factors to ensure a safe and secure environment.
  5. Where single-occupancy accommodation is not possible, shared accommodation or double-bunking accommodation will be utilized.
  6. Co-convicted inmates will:
    1. not be accommodated in the same cell
    2. whenever possible, not be accommodated on the same range, unit, or in the same institution.
  7. Inmates identified as incompatible will not be accommodated in the same cell or range. Incompatibility shall be managed in accordance with CD 568-7 – Management of Incompatible Offenders.


  1. Prior to cell assignment at maximum, medium, multi-level institutions, maximum and medium security units in a clustered institution, Structured Living Environments and Secure Units in women’s institutions, the National Cell Condition Checklist (CSC/SCC 1448) must be completed for each inmate (in a single cell or double/shared) to identify all potential points of suspension, both non-removable (e.g. air vents) and removable (e.g. furniture, shelving) and other cell vulnerabilities (e.g. tampered or removed protective covers):
    1. if any of the above items are seen to have been tampered with, removed, or destroyed, this must be recorded in the Statement/Observation Report (CSC/SCC 0875) and Plant Maintenance must be advised immediately. The form Maintenance and Repair Call (CSC/SCC 2011) will be completed, given priority and promptly actioned. Consideration may be given to charging the inmate(s) in question with a disciplinary offence (minor or serious), with the details of the incident and a description of informal resolution attempts, and why they did not work
    2. the affected cell will be quarantined and considered non-operable, until such a time that the required maintenance has been completed
    3. at that time, a confirmation will be sent by Plant Maintenance personnel to the responsible Correctional Manager. The confirmation will include a final operational verification of the cell prior to the cell being reopened
    4. the National Cell Condition Checklist (CSC/SCC 1448) must be completed on a monthly basis, at the time of an inmate’s cell assignment or when an inmate vacates a cell, to identify blind spots, and potential points of suspension, both non-removable and removable items, verifying that all protective covers and anti-suicide hooks have not been tampered with. If these items have been tampered with, the process in the preceding paragraphs and sub-paragraphs must be followed.


Double-Bunking/Shared Accommodation Cell Placement Assessment

  1. When single cell accommodation is not possible and it becomes necessary to accommodate two inmates in the same cell, a new Double-Bunking Cell Placement Assessment must be completed in OMS (for double bunking and shared accommodation). The assessment will normally be completed by a Correctional Officer II/Primary Worker assigned to the unit where the inmates are to reside. It is not necessary to complete an assessment if there is only one inmate in a cell.
  2. There may be a requirement to move an inmate in order for staff to effectively provide first aid. For this reason, consideration will be given to placing inmates with medical conditions or weighing more than 90 kilograms in the lower bunk.
  3. To assist in determining the risk, the Correctional Officer II/Primary Worker will complete the assessment, referring to the Double-Bunking Cell Placement Assessment – User Guide. The Correctional Officer II/Primary Worker will:
    1. review, for each inmate’s assessment, the alerts, flags and needs through OMS and/or RADAR
    2. conduct an interview with each inmate
    3. in situations where it has been determined that additional information is required, seek input from relevant staff and/or conduct a file review on OMS. If identified concerns cannot be addressed through further input, the Correctional Officer II/Primary Worker will not recommend the placement of the inmates in a double-bunking cell.
  4. When a Double-Bunking Cell Placement Assessment has already been completed for two inmates sharing a cell, a subsequent assessment is not required should these two inmates move together to another cell unless new information becomes available which would warrant a reassessment.
  5. When the risk is deemed manageable based on information available at the time, the rationale must be substantiated in the Double-Bunking Cell Placement Assessment prior to it being locked in OMS.
  6. Prior to the placement of any offender in a double-bunking or shared accommodation cell, Correctional Managers will review and approve the Double-Bunking Cell Placement Assessment for both inmates.

Exceptions to Cell Utilization for Two Inmates

  1. Normally, the following cells will not be used to accommodate two inmates or more:
    1. segregation cells
    2. Special Handling Unit cells
    3. cells utilized for inmates receiving care for mental health issues
    4. cells smaller than five square metres
    5. cells with no direct or indirect natural light
    6. cells designated and occupied by handicapped inmates except in approved shared accommodation
    7. observation cells
    8. any cell purposefully designed or retrofitted as a dry cell.

Institutional and Operational Unit Capacity

  1. Normally, an institution will not exceed its design capacity.
  2. Any increase in double occupancy above 20% of the overall regional rated capacity will require the Commissioner’s approval.
  3. The minimum cell size standard for all new and replacement regular accommodation will be seven square metres for wet cells and six and a half square metres for dry cells.


Original Signed by:
Don Head




CD 081 – Offender Complaints and Grievances
CD 345 – Fire Safety
CD 566-12 – Personal Property of Offenders
CD 568-7 – Management of Incompatible Offenders
GL 702-1 – Establishment and Operation of Pathways Initiatives
CD 705-3 – Immediate Needs Identification and Admission Interviews
CD 705-7 – Security Classification and Penitentiary Placement
CD 706 – Classification of Institutions
CD 709 – Administrative Segregation
CD 710-2 – Transfer of Inmates
CD 710-6 – Review of Inmate Security Classification

Double-Bunking Cell Placement Assessment – User Guide

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms


Cell : a walled or partitioned area designed to accommodate one or two inmates.

Co-convicted offenders : offenders who were parties in the commission of an offence resulting in death or serious harm (section 99 of the CCRA), even though they may have been charged with different offences and received different sentences or may have been prosecuted at different times.

Design capacity : the approved number of beds in an institution at the time of its construction.

Dormitory : open area designed to house more than two inmates.

Double-bunking accommodation : cell designed for one inmate, but have been retrofitted to accommodate two inmates, typically in a stacked bunk format.

Incompatible offenders : offenders who pose a threat to the safety and well-being of each other and may present a risk to staff, the public or other offenders.

Rated capacity: design capacity taking into consideration any accommodation changes made over the years less the following: cells permanently used to house administrative segregated inmates; suicide watch (observation); health care in non-psychiatric centres.

Security threat group : any formal or informal ongoing inmate/offender group, gang, organization or association consisting of three or more members. Most security threat groups encountered in a correctional setting fall into one of the following basic categories: street gangs, prison gangs, outlaw motorcycle gangs, traditional organized crime, Aboriginal gangs, white supremacy groups, subversive groups, terrorist organizations and hate groups.

Shared accommodation: a cell designed for two inmates, or that has been officially re-classified to accommodate two inmates.

Single occupancy: a cell occupied by one inmate.

For more information

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