Interim Policy Bulletin 684

Interim Policy Bulletin

Number: 684

In Effect: 2022-04-25

Related links:

Commissioner's Directive (CD) 566-7 - Searching of Offenders

Policy number and title:

Commissioner's Directive (CD) 566-7 - Searching of Offenders

Why was the policy changed?

This policy is being amended to clarify dry cell procedures and to comply with a recent judicial ruling, Adams v. Nova Institution, 2021 NSSC 313. This bulletin acts as an interim measure until CD 566-7 - Searching of Offenders is updated accordingly. 

What has changed?

Currently, paragraph 51(b) of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA) stipulates that an Institutional Head (IH) who believes on reasonable grounds that an inmate has ingested contraband or is carrying contraband in a body cavity may authorize in writing the detention of the inmate in a cell without plumbing fixtures (e.g., dry cell), with notice to the penitentiary's medical staff, on the expectation that the contraband will be expelled.

Dry cells are designed to facilitate the seizure of contraband when there are reasonable grounds to believe that it has been ingested or is carried in the rectum (e.g., digestive tract). As it cannot be expected that contraband secreted in a vaginal cavity will be expelled in the same manner as from a digestive tract, placement in a dry cell is not authorized in cases where contraband is believed to be concealed in the vaginal cavity.

Effective immediately, inmates believed to be carrying contraband in their vaginal cavity, or elsewhere other than in their digestive tract, will not be placed in a dry cell.

In cases where there are reasonable grounds to believe that an inmate is carrying contraband in a vaginal cavity, staff members are encouraged to continue engaging with the inmate, and employ available mediation strategies to encourage them to surrender the contraband. Staff members should consider individualized and/or culturally appropriate interventions available in collaboration with members of the interdisciplinary team. Involving other staff members, such as Behavioural Counsellors, Social Workers, Programs Officers, Indigenous Liaison Officers, Elders, health care professionals and others familiar to the inmate, may yield positive results.

Institutions have a number of means and methods for detecting and seizing contraband and unauthorized items (e.g., detector dogs, hand-held scanners, ion scanners). Staff members are encouraged to use approved practices and technologies detailed in the Institutional Search Plan and work with correctional partners and law enforcement agencies to prevent contraband or unauthorized items from entering CSC's institutions. Paragraph 51(a) of the CCRA, which authorizes the use of an X-ray machine, remains a viable option to detect contraband.

Regardless of the approach, staff members should educate inmates on the dangers and risks of carrying contraband in the digestive tract or the vagina, as this could quickly result in serious bodily harm or even death.

Inmates believed to be carrying contraband in their digestive tract or vagina can jeopardize the safety and security of the institution and require an environment in which to assess and reduce their risk before they are admitted to a mainstream inmate population. A Structured Intervention Unit (SIU) may provide such an environment, but only if there is no reasonable alternative. The requirements for a transfer to a SIU, as outlined in subsection 34(1) of the CCRA, would still apply.

As a reminder of current requirements outlined in CD 566-7 - Searching of Offenders, the IH must review each dry cell placement on a daily basis.

Effective immediately, the IH must inform the Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Correctional Operations (ADCCO), in writing, when the placement of an inmate in a dry cell exceeds 48 hours. When the placement of an inmate in a dry cell exceeds 72 hours, the IH will notify both the ADCCO and Director General (DG), Security, in writing. The ADCCO and DG, Security, will receive an update from the IH every 24 hours thereafter, which will include a rationale for maintaining the inmate in the dry cell. A new form is currently being developed to capture this information. Until this form is available, the IH will send the daily update and rationale in an e-mail.

The new requirement to notify National Headquarters (NHQ) when a dry cell placement exceeds 72 hours is intended to enhance oversight, and allow NHQ to provide additional guidance where necessary. NHQ is continuing to assess current practices and policies to further assist in supporting search and seizure functions.

How was it developed?

This Interim Policy Bulletin was developed by the Security Operations Division in collaboration with the Strategic Policy Division.

Who will be affected by the policy?

All CSC employees involved in security management and operations, and inmates. 


Accountabilities for the policy changes will be held by the Assistant Commissioner, Correctional Operations and Programs; Director General, Security; Assistant Deputy Commissioners, Correctional Operations; and Institutional Heads.

Expected Cost?

Other Impacts?

Date modified: