Policy Bulletin

Policy Bulletin 553

Why was the policy changed?

Changes over time in offender profile and population management strategies have reinforced the need to conduct an overall review of the use of the Special Handling Unit (SHU) to ensure that policy and practices are aligned with legislation changes, policy updates, offender risk/need principles, and our Transformation Agenda.

What has changed?

Several modifications have been made to the document. These include:

  • a new look, resulting in stand-alone English and French versions;
  • the purpose, which replaces the “policy objective”, is more practical in nature;
  • a more concise language/style is used throughout the document.

Modifications also detail:

  • the changes to the admission/transfer process to the SHU, which will now occur before the actual movement of the inmate to the SHU;
  • the admission criteria;
  • the inclusion of a comprehensive mental health assessment at the front end and a regional review before moving forward with the referral;
  • the review periods which are now based upon individualized assessment; and
  • the transfer process from the SHU.

A tool was also developed, which provides an overview of the processes associated with the SHU (the pre-transfer process, the review process, and the emergency involuntary transfer process specific to a transfer to the SHU). The tool will be posted on InfoNet and available to all staff.

How was it developed?

A Working Group, chaired by the Senior Deputy Commissioner, was established and consisted of the Senior Advisor to the SDC, two Institutional Heads, and representatives from the Health Services Sector and the Correctional Operations and Programs Sector. The Working Group held several meetings and consulted with different sectors at National Headquarters, as well as the staff from the SHU. The Strategic Policy Division, in collaboration with the Security Operations Division, revised the policy, which was the subject of national consultation.


The Assistant Commissioner, Correctional Operations and Programs, is responsible for this policy. Responsibilities for the various levels (i.e. National and Regional Headquarters and institutions) are outlined in the policy document.

Who will be affected by the policy?

Staff involved in the case management, review and transfer of inmates to or from the SHU.

Inmates who are transferred to or from the SHU.

Inmates who are directly placed from provincial custody to the SHU after sentencing.

Expected cost?

None anticipated.

Other impacts?

With the promulgation of the policy, there is a need for transitional provisions in certain circumstances. Please refer to the Case Management Bulletin dated 2017-01-23 for further direction.

CD 710-2 and related guidelines are currently under review. All the information regarding transfers to the SHU will eventually be removed from CD 710-2 as it has been incorporated into CD 708. As such, staff are to refer to CD 708 in the context of a transfer to and from the SHU.

For more information

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