Response of the Correctional Service of Canada to the 35th Annual Report of the Correctional Investigator 2007-2008


The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC or the Service) contributes to the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society through the safe and humane custody and supervision of offenders; and by assisting offenders to rehabilitate and reintegrate into the community.

CSC manages 58 institutions, 16 community correctional centres and 71 parole offices. At the end of the 2007-2008 fiscal year, CSC was responsible for approximately 13,600 federally incarcerated offenders and 8,400 offenders in the community. Over the course of the year, including all admissions and releases, CSC managed 20,000 incarcerated offenders and 14,500 supervised offenders in the community.

CSC has long experienced growing challenges in sustaining results due to three overarching realities: longstanding operational and financial pressures; a changing, more complex and more problematic offender populationFootnote 1 which presents significant security and reintegration challenges; and insufficient investment in infrastructure - leading to rust-out and to institutions not designed/configured to manage the changing offending profile. Furthermore, from 1994-1995 to 2006-2007 latest that is available, the average annual cost of maintaining offenders has increased from $36,731 to $74,261.

Federal Budget 2007

Recognizing the gravity of these aforementioned challenges, Budget 2007 provided CSC with bridge funding over two years (2007-2008 and 2008-2009) to meet only its most urgent requirements and to keep the Service operationally viable, pending the results of an independent review of CSC operations.

Independent CSC Review Panel

The CSC Review Panel, launched by the Minister of Public Safety in April 2007, was mandated to review CSC's operational priorities, strategies and business plans with a view to enhancing public safety. The Panel's report was submitted to the Minister and was publicly released on December 13, 2007.

The Report recognized the realities and challenges currently facing the Service and made 109 recommendations. It provides a foundation for CSC's transformation agenda and a new correctional vision to contribute to public safety. The most significant aspects of the recommendations are categorized in five major areas:

  1. Offender Accountability
    • that the principles of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act be strengthened to further emphasize offender responsibility and accountability.
  2. Eliminating drugs from prison
    • that CSC strengthen its interdiction initiatives on all fronts.
  3. Employability/Employment
    • that the employability skills (job readiness) of offenders are enhanced through work opportunities in penitentiaries and employment opportunities in the community at the time of release; and to implement a more structured workday to allow for the proper balance between work, education and correctional programs.
  4. Physical Infrastructure
    • that CSC explore new approaches to the design and construction of regional "complexes" - complexes that would reinforce an overall correctional management model that stresses the accountabilities of offenders and provides opportunities to improve correctional results.
  5. Eliminating Statutory Release And Moving to Earned Parole
    • that offenders must work to address risks and needs and earn their way back to their home communities, demonstrating that they have changed and are capable of living as law-abiding citizens.

Note: Earned parole is not part of the first phase of transformation supported by the Government in Budget 2008. This change will require significant consultation, planning and legislative change. Earned parole will be reviewed at a later date.

Furthermore, the Panel's report also recognized that CSC's priorities were integral to the organization's transformation but that they needed to be supported through sustainable funding. The five (5) priorities of the Service are:

  1. safe transition of eligible offenders into the community;
  2. safety and security for staff and offenders in our institutions;
  3. enhanced capacities to provide effective interventions for First Nations, Métis and Inuit offenders;
  4. improved capacities to address the mental health needs of offenders; and
  5. strengthened management practices.

Federal Budget 2008

Subsequent to the release of the Panel's report, the Government, through Budget 2008, made a significant investment to initiate a new vision for the federal correctional system. It provided funding to ensure that CSC is firmly on track to respond comprehensively to the Panel's recommendations. CSC's baseline funding was stabilized and funding was provided to enable CSC to strengthen control of its institutions through enhanced safety and security measures, including training for correctional staff and greater investments in illicit drug detection measures.

A CSC Transformation Team was established and is leading CSC's response to the Report's recommendations. It is recognized that this transformation will require a long-term commitment and a phased approach. The new vision for CSC will be characterized by a stronger focus on how its efforts contribute to enhanced public safety of all Canadians - CSC's primary goal. As well, there will be greater consistency in delivering correctional services and a higher level of integration, particularly between institutions and the community. Finally, the principle of shared responsibility and accountability of offenders to follow their correctional plans and CSC to provide opportunities and tools to do so will be clearer and better understood. Initial initiatives identified by the Transformation Team will assist in building the right foundations for future investments in federal corrections.

Safe transition of eligible offenders into the community

Recommendation #1:

I recommend that the Correctional Service immediately allocate adequate resources to measurably improve its capacity to provide the required assessments and programming in advance of the offender's scheduled parole hearing dates.

In the short-term, as part of the transformation agenda, CSC will be exploring new models for a streamlined assessment process and earlier initiation of programs at the commencement of an inmate's sentence. By spring 2009, CSC will also develop National Correctional Reintegration Program referral guidelines for all national correctional programs which will allow for a more efficient use of existing program delivery resources.

CSC will also develop program delivery tools to help Correctional Program Officers to address the needs of offenders with education deficits, learning disabilities and mental disorders. These tools will be based on the findings of recent evaluations regarding the efficacy of structured and didactic programs. These tools will include methods of adapting program delivery to homogenous groups.

Through the transformation agenda, CSC will initiate proposals to develop and implement an integrated program strategy. The proposed program model will include an intervention designed specifically to address the challenges of the changing offender population.

Over the next three (3) years, CSC will position correctional program delivery staff to:

  • facilitate appropriate supplementary assessments and program referrals;
  • deliver programs focusing on Violence Prevention and Substance Abuse to address the capacity demands of a short-term offender population; and
  • deliver the Community Maintenance Program.

Recommendation #2:

I recommend that the Correctional Service establish as a priority the timely preparation of cases to appear before the National Parole Board, as per existing policy. Performance in this priority area should be both measured and closely monitored on an ongoing basis through increased reporting at the regional and national levels, and form a component of the CSC Departmental Performance Reports.

Gaps have been identified in the provision of programming and the timely preparation of cases. As part of CSC's transformation agenda, the Service will be focusing on approaches that enhance the timely preparation of eligible inmate cases for presentation for review by the National Parole Board. Work is underway to improve efficiencies in the area of correctional programs, program availability earlier in the sentence, and efforts to actively encourage offenders to participate in their correctional plan. Focus on achieving results in these areas is expected to increase the number of eligible offenders who are prepared for safe release to the community.

Regional and National Headquarters will use the Corporate Monitoring Tool to assess progress in this area.

Safety and security for staff and offenders in our institutions

Recommendation #3:

I recommend that the Correctional Service develop an action plan on the steps it will take to establish a process to ensure consistent and timely implementation, as well as regular follow-up, of its recommendations, and those of coroners and medical examiners.

CSC has developed a number of different strategies to increase and support its capacity for a more timely analysis of the information contained in investigation reports, as well as those of Coroners' and Medical Examiners. In addition, greater focus is placed on communicating "significant findings" to the operational sites. Three (3) such documents are currently available to staff on the CSC Infonet site and additional documents will be forthcoming in the fall of 2008.

All recommendations are seriously considered and, when a recommendation is deemed appropriate and feasible, an action plan is put in place. Every action is tracked until such time as it is complete, acceptable and documented. Since September 2007, a quarterly report entitled "EXCOM Follow-up on Board of Investigations (BOI) Actions" on actions completed or pending is provided to the Senior Deputy Commissioner.

Resources within the Correctional Operations and Programs Sector and the Health Care Sector now exist to increase CSC's capacity to monitor the progress on action plans and support their implementation.

Recommendation #4:

I recommend that the Correctional Service:

  1. Establish a consistent framework for recording and reporting attempted suicides, self-inflicted injuries and overdoses;

A revised Commissioner's Directive (CD) 568-1, Recording and Reporting of Security Incidents, was promulgated on July 4, 2008. Specific definitions havebeen included to ensure accurate recording and reporting of incidents. Therecording and reporting of these types of incidents will initially be done in a standardized way and modified only after an assessment by other officials such as a psychologist or a security intelligence officer.

The development of an Offender Management System Renewal module on Incident Reporting is currently underway and expected to be completed by spring 2009 which will further assist in addressing the recommendations made by the Office of the Correctional Investigator (OCI).

CSC will also be producing the 2007-2008 Annual Inmate Suicide Report by December 2008.

  1. Provide a systemic review and analysis of the circumstances associated with these types of injuries; and

In April 2008, CSC corresponded with the OCI regarding the concerns about the number of incidents that result in injuries which are not investigated. CSC indicated that it would conduct further analysis of inmate injuries in a phased approach.

CSC will begin with the area of mental health. In collaboration with Health Services and Research, the Service will focus on injuries sustained by inmates categorized as suffering from a Mental Health affliction, diagnosed and self-reported only. This will include both victims and instigators. It is our hope that this will allow the Service to better understand the circumstances surrounding these incidents, what conclusions can be drawn and what type of follow-up if any, is required.

CSC's intention is to focus on one area in order to see where improvements can be made and which areas require further analysis. We expect to have this initial analysis completed by the end of December 2008.

  1. Initiate corrective action to prevent the recurrence of such injuries.

Quarterly reports will be produced by National Headquarters (NHQ) Performance Assurance Sector and the data will be provided by security level, region, facility, and will indicate the number of verified self-inflicted injury incidents. These reports will be provided to NHQ Security Branch for review and interpretation and as a result, further quantitative analysis could be conducted by NHQ Performance Assurance Sector, such as trends over time, comparisons by gender, ethnicity, location of the incidents and sentence length. The Inmate Injury Annual Report for 2007-2008 is expected to be completed by the end of December 2008.

Through the continued production of quarterly reports, CSC will be able to see where the incidents are occurring and if necessary, follow-up with the regions to discuss anomalies.

Recommendation #5:

I recommend that the Correctional Service ensure that all relevant reports related to offender deaths are provided to Coroners and Medical Examiners in a timely fashion and that recommendations from these bodies are immediately responded to.

CSC will continue to co-operate fully with the Coroners and Medical Examiners and will share relevant information in accordance with the law. Coroners/Medical Examiners are provided with copies of CSC Incident Investigation Reports on a regular basis. Recommendations emanating from these Coroners' Inquests/Fatality Inquiries are sent to CSC and integrated corporate responses are prepared for the Commissioner's signature. Timeliness is a priority and response times are reflected based on the nature, complexity and extent of the recommendations provided to CSC.

Each province has different processes and timeframes for the review of deaths in custody. This can result in CSC receiving the Coroners'/Medical Examiners' recommendations long after CSC has completed their investigation and completed the corrective measures and action plans. In some cases, many years have passed. As a result, CSC's replies may at times be viewed as untimely when in fact CSC had responded quickly after the incident.

Enhanced capacities to provide effective interventions for First Nations, Métis and Inuit offenders

Recommendation #6:

I recommend that the Minister immediately re-establish the National Aboriginal Advisory Committee, as required by law.

The Commissioner is responsible for establishing the National Aboriginal Advisory Committee (NAAC) and he has made this a priority. The members have been selected for the NAAC and notified of their appointment and their first meeting will be taking place on September 16-17, 2008.

Recommendation #7:

Once appointed, I recommend that the National Aboriginal Advisory Committee as its first order of business:

  1. review the Correctional Service's governance structure and resources allocated to ensure the timely implementation the CSC's Strategic Plan for Aboriginal Corrections; and,

CSC will be seeking the advice of the NAAC on the provision of correctional programs to Aboriginal offenders. This will include reviewing CSC's Strategic Plan for Aboriginal Corrections. As well, CSC will be seeking advice from the Committee on how to consult regularly with Aboriginal communities.

  1. examine the capacity of the Correctional Service to monitor progress on key correctional performance indicators, including transfers, segregation, discipline, temporary absences and work releases, detention referrals, delayed parole reviews, and suspension and revocation of conditional release.

These areas will be discussed with the NAAC with the goal to seek advice on
options to improve results and help to inform of the next steps associated with the transformation agenda as it relates specifically to Aboriginal offenders.

Improved capacities to address mental health needs of offenders

Recommendation #8:

I recommend that the Minister make securing adequate and permanent funding for intermediate mental health care a key portfolio priority.

In Budget 2008, CSC received permanent, ongoing funding ($16.6M annually) to enhance institutional mental health services and the overall continuum of mental health care for federal offenders. These funds will be directed toward implementing a comprehensive clinical mental health intake assessment of offenders at admission; increasing primary mental health care in institutions; and enhancement of clinical staffing ratios at treatment centres to meet consistent standards. These additional funds will assist CSC to improve both the continuum of mental health care provided to offenders as well as the correctional results for federal offenders with mental disorders, thereby enhancing public safety.

Recommendation #9:

I recommend that the Correctional Service make its training initiatives to ensure that all front-line employees are trained in dealing with mentally ill offenders a priority for the current fiscal year.

CSC recognizes the importance of training front-line staff that are required to work with offenders who are mentally disordered. Additional training for front-line staff is included in the implementation plan of CSC's Mental Health Strategy.

The following provides an overview of some of the training that has or will be provided to front-line staff.

Over 700 CSC employees (including parole officers, nurses, and correctional officers) and contracted agency staff in the community have been trained in mental health awareness as part of the Community Mental Health Initiative. Additional training will be delivered during this fiscal year and over the next two (2) years to institutional nurses, staff working in Community Residential Facilities (CRFs) for women, and correctional officers.

Specific training for psychologists has also been developed on mental health assessment and diagnosis and suicide risk assessment and intervention training.

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) has been demonstrated to be an effective intervention for certain mental disorders, has been implemented in the women's institutions. DBT training is a National Training Standard (NTS) for staff that work in the Structured Living Environments and Secure Units of women's facilities. In addition, DBT Awareness and Training for Management in Women's Institutions is under development and will be implemented in the Fall-Winter 2008.

Integrated Mental Health and Security Training will be piloted this fiscal year and will assist staff in developing awareness, knowledge, and skills for use with inmates presenting with high risk/ high needs and mental health issues.

Institutional Heads and District Directors will also ensure that all correctional officers have received the approved CSC Suicide Prevention and Intervention training either as a component of the Correctional Training Program (CTP) or on a stand-alone basis. As well, all other staff who have regular interactions with offenders will receive the Suicide Awareness component of the New Employee Orientation Program (NEOP) either as a component of their orientation or on a stand-alone basis. It should also be noted that all staff who have regular interactions with offenders shall be provided with two hours of refresher training in suicide prevention every two years.

Strengthened management practices

Recommendation #10:

I recommend that the Correctional Service increase the representation of its workforce at all levels to reflect the ethno-cultural diversity of its offender population.

As part of its three-year Aboriginal Human Resources Plan, CSC will develop a suite of initiatives to increase Aboriginal representation at all levels that reflect the offender population. Major components of the plan during its first year include the development of a package outlining the steps required to hire more Aboriginal staff (Fall 2008); an Aboriginal Management Development Program (Winter 2008); an Aboriginal Employment Program aimed at recruiting Aboriginals beyond market availability (Spring 2009); a Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP) for Aboriginal students (Winter 2008); and the development of a comprehensive communications strategy to ensure success of the overall plan (Spring 2009).

CSC also acknowledges that the ethno-cultural profile of offenders is changing and is examining how to achieve a representation workforce as part of its Strategic Plan for Human Resource Management Plan.

Recommendation #11:

I recommend that the Minister direct the Correctional Service to immediately re-instate the response times at the Commissioner's level of the Offender Grievance and Complaint System at 15 days for priority grievances and 25 days for non-priority grievances, and that the Correctional Service take the necessary steps to comply with those timeframes.

In recent years, CSC has made substantial progress on improving the quality of its grievance responses - providing accurate, relevant, complete, and fair replies to offenders. Third-level grievances often present complex issues that have general and systemic application to the entire organization, as well as important interests for the offenders concerned. Responses may have a significant bearing on policies and departmental operations. Grievance reviews can give rise to significant discussion among operational managers and policy holders. Many third-level grievance responses require a considerable amount of research, investigation, and consultation with policy holders and operational experts. This process can involve significant time irrespective of the resources available to address grievances. While we endeavour to respond to grievances as quickly as we can, especially where these relate to personal safety, liberty and security interests, we want to ensure that each grievance receives the consideration it deserves and that lessons learned from grievances are incorporated into the subsequent management of the Service.

The Service recently examined the time frames for third-level grievances in light of the aforementioned considerations. Based on a review of the actual time frames over several years for completion of third-level grievances, it was determined that the revised third-level time frames were reasonable in order to maintain and enhance the effectiveness of our procedure. While most grievances are completed long before the new prescribed deadlines, it is prudent to recognize the time that is required to address the most complex problems.

As the OCI has indicated, the Commissioner decided to conduct a specific consultation of offenders and inmate committees on the time frames. It is worth noting that the results, which were shared with the OCI, indicate that a minority (16%) disagreed with the deadlines, while 24% agreed or had no concerns with the new deadlines. Another 24% said they had no comment, whereas 3% did not specifically voice an agreement or disagreement with the deadlines, but did not provide other comments.

The Service completed 92.9% of grievances submitted within the new time frames since they were implemented. Completion rates will be reviewed again at the end of this fiscal year as previously indicated to the OCI. CSC is committed to ensuring that the timeframes remain an element of our efforts to optimize the complaint and grievance system as a means of resolving offender problems and as a useful tool for managers.

Looking forward

Recommendation #12:

I recommend that as part of any review of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, the Minister propose that the Office of the Correctional Investigator report directly to Parliament.

This recommendation deals with Part III of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and lies outside the jurisdiction of the Correctional Service of Canada.

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