Response to the 49th Annual Report of the Correctional Investigator 2021-2022

Commissioner’s message

As Commissioner, I am pleased to present the Correctional Service of Canada’s (CSC) response to the recommendations outlined in the Office of the Correctional Investigator’s 2021-22 Annual Report.

Over the course of the year, CSC continued to deliver on its mission to support offenders in becoming law-abiding citizens, while continuing to face various operational challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the implementation of necessary measures to limit the spread of the virus in federal institutions. Ensuring that offenders have access to quality, safe, patient-centered services from qualified health care professionals remained a priority this year. CSC also made system-wide enhancements to help identify mental health needs and continued to implement harm reduction initiatives to prevent the spread of HIV and hepatitis C.

Advancing reconciliation and supporting safe reintegration of Indigenous, Black and other racialized individuals into the community is another priority for CSC. Performance results for 2021-22 indicate that high percentages of Indigenous and Black offenders are not re-admitted to federal custody within 5 years following the expiration of their sentence (83.2% and 85.8%, respectively).

As outlined in my mandate letter from the Minister of Public Safety, CSC will continue its work to combat systemic racism and discrimination, and the overrepresentation of Black, racialized Canadians, and Indigenous Peoples in the criminal justice system. To support this priority, CSC developed an Anti-Racism Framework and Actions, focusing on employees, offenders, and stakeholders. We also continue to implement training for staff on topics such as anti-racism, unconscious bias, Indigenous culture, and cultural competency. CSC has a number of culturally appropriate initiatives in place to support offenders while in our custody – and ultimately, to reduce recidivism. To further relationships with Indigenous Peoples and achieve coordination at multiple levels to address this overrepresentation, I am in the process of staffing a new position of Deputy Commissioner for Indigenous Corrections.

CSC continues to refine the operation of Structured Intervention Units (SIU) within federal institutions. During 2021-22, this historic transformation that saw the abolition of administrative segregation reached the two-year mark. An external SIU Implementation Advisory Panel (IAP) was renewed, whose members monitor, assess, and report on issues related to SIU operations. In addition to the IAP, CSC consulted with stakeholders and individuals with diverse perspectives in order to ensure the success of the SIU model.

Significant change management initiatives implemented within SIUs have resulted in a steady increase in compliance with offering 4 hours of out of cell time, including 2 hours of meaningful interaction for each individual offender. In 2021-22, the percentage of offenders in SIUs offered opportunities for 4 hours out of cell had increased to 95% from 85% in 2020-21. As well, the percentage of time offenders actually availed themselves of the 2 hours of interaction time also increased to 55% from 45% in 2020-2021. Furthermore, the percentage who remained in the general population for 120 days or more after being released from a SIU increased to 66% from 56% in 2020-21.

This year, two new Commissioner’s Directives (CDs) were developed and promulgated, in consultation with experts and stakeholders. CD 100 Gender Diverse Offenders and CD 574 Sexual Coercion and Violence provide direction on procedural changes that reflect CSC’s commitment to meeting the needs of its offender population in ways that respect their human rights, ensure their safety and dignity as well as the safety of others in the institutions and community.

In 2021-22, sustained reductions in federal admissions and ongoing efforts for safe releases have resulted in a decline in federal inmates during the pandemic period. Again, this fiscal year, there has been an increase in the percentage of offenders not readmitted to federal custody within 5 years following sentence expiry, from 84.7% in 2016-17 to 87.8% in 2021-22.

I am proud of CSC’s accomplishments in 2021-22 and look forward to continuing work to enhance correctional environments, deliver positive results and keep Canadians safe.

Responses to Recommendations

  1. I repeat my recommendation to prohibit any indefinite dry cell placement beyond 72 hours.
  2. No dry cell placement is indefinite.  CSC has improved oversight of dry cell placements that exceed 72 hours. As stated in Interim Policy Bulletin 684, which came into effect on April 28, 2022, when a dry cell placement exceeds 48 hours, the Institutional Head (IH) will notify, in writing, the Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Correctional Operations (ADCCO) in the Region. When the placement exceeds 72 hours, the IH, must notify, in writing, both the ADCCO and the Director General (DG), Security at National Headquarters. The ADCCO and DG, Security, will then receive an update every 24 hours thereafter, which will include a detailed rationale for maintaining the offender in the dry cell. The review conducted by RHQ and NHQ must ensure the rationale to maintain the inmate in a dry cell is well supported, dynamic, and subject to ongoing review.

    With the passing of Bill C-19, which received Royal Assent on June 23, 2022, changes to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA) now requires that inmates be visited daily by a registered health care professional to ensure the ongoing monitoring of their physical and mental health.  Furthermore, the Minister will be putting forward additional reforms in the near future.

  3. With respect to CSC’s drug strategy, I recommend the following set of measures:
    1. The Prison Needle Exchange Program (PNEP) criteria be significantly revamped to encourage participation consistent with actionable recommendations of this Office and the external interim evaluation, with a view to full national implementation within the next 12 months.
    2. The Overdose Prevention Service (OPS) be rolled out nationally, in tandem with PNEP implementation.
    3. CSC has received and reviewed the external evaluation reports that have been completed to support the effective implementation of the PNEP and OPS programs. The expert report on PNEP indicated that participation rates may be the result of considerations such as stigma, fear, lack of understanding of harm reduction initiatives, and the nature of addiction.

      CSC has established an action plan in response to the report including the above mentioned considerations, and has begun consultation with national stakeholders. To date, in response to the report, CSC has updated health promotion information for PNEP and OPS and has implemented the availability of tools in the OPS including safer snorting supplies and vein finders to reduce the risk of infection and trauma associated with poor injection practices. A training to increase understanding of substance use and stigma is currently being provided by an external expert to CSC’s health staff. Recent funding received has expanded CSC’s health resources including the recruitment of nurses and psychiatrists to ensure timely assessment, expanded hours of service delivery and staffing of future OPS at additional CSC institutions.

      Similarly, these resources along with the engagement of National Opioid Agonist Treatment (OAT) Medical Advisor is helping CSC to eliminate its OAT waitlist. Naloxone is now available in every site, accessible to health care staff in the emergency drug kits and to correctional staff in strategic various locations within accommodation units where there are dedicated staff, or in inmate accessible storage kits in accommodation units where there are no dedicated staff (e.g., private family visits structures, houses). In addition, the officer in charge of conducting external escorts or ground transfers of inmates carry naloxone on their person as part of the required equipment. It is also provided to offenders upon release to the community. CSC is also exploring opportunities to further increase availability of naloxone to inmates. In the coming year CSC will implement other recommendations including consideration of the distribution of a discrete transport case to facilitate the safer return of used needles and an update of materials to inform individuals that there is no requirement to share PNEP participation with the Parole Board of Canada.  In addition, external experts have resumed PNEP evaluation visits to institutions with the objective to consult with patients and staff, provide additional information and enable further review and input on the effective implementation of the PNEP in CSC.

      The interim external expert’s report highlighted the importance of adequate preparation for the effective implementation of these programs. In keeping with the report’s recommendations and given the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not feasible to implement PNEP and OPS at all sites in twelve months. Before implementation, extensive work is required, including engagement with the sites, consultation with stakeholders and labour partners, infrastructure changes, procurement of supplies, and a review of Standing Orders.  The identification of sites for implementation will be based on the current health needs of the population as well as enabling infrastructure. The four sites that had been identified for implementation of PNEP and OPS prior to the pandemic will be prioritized, and CSC will work towards identifying additional sites for implementation within the next twelve months.

    4. Commissioner’s Directive 585 – National Drug Strategy be immediately updated to incorporate evidence-based harm reduction, treatment and prevention principles and practices.
    5. Consistent with the Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy (CDSS) and in recognition that problematic substance use is a health issue, CSC has implemented a range of prevention, harm reduction and treatments to work with individuals in response to this need. CSC is currently revising Commissioner’s Directive (CD) 585 - National Drug Strategy to align with the CDSS and reflect the interdisciplinary, evidence based approach that is being implemented to respond to federally-incarcerated persons who have a substance use disorder.

      CSC recognizes the importance of preventing drug and substance use and has implemented prevention initiatives, including outreach programs such as Narcotics Anonymous/Alcoholics Anonymous, Peer Education Counsellors, and pathways initiatives for Indigenous inmates.

      In addition, OAT, psychosocial support and peer support are among CSC’s suite of comprehensive health services. CSC is currently implementing Self-Management and Recovery Training, an evidence-based approach to substance use disorder.

    6. CSC’s zero-tolerance policy to drug use and possession be recalibrated to focus on corrective measures for drug diversion and trafficking, rather than stigmatizing, targeting or disciplining persons struggling with addictions or substance abuse disorders.
    7. CSC has recently made enhancements to its Correctional Training Program (CTP) curriculum to include modules on substance use and harm reduction initiatives. As well, CSC is developing a substance use workshop for correctional program officers to enhance their knowledge and skills for working with offenders for whom substance use is a risk factor. The workshop will be delivered to correctional program officers by end of fiscal year 2023. With the enhancement to training activities for officers who are often in direct and frequent contact with offenders, it is CSC’s objective that appropriate interventions and corrective measures will be used as part of their considerations in addressing offenders with addictions or substance abuse disorders.

      In addition, to support the safety and security of the offenders, staff and visitors in institutions, CSC will continue to implement measures to address the introduction of contraband and trafficking within federal institutions.  The implementation of effective contraband detection technologies, such as Body scanners and more sophisticated drone detection systems will assist in reducing the presence of drugs within correctional facilities and in the identification of those involved in the introduction and trafficking of drugs and substances.

  1. I recommend that CSC prioritize the current review of the security classification process, particularly as it applies to Indigenous women. In the interim, I recommend that Indigenous Social History (ISH) be assessed in a meaningful way for each decision rendered and that case management staff are provided with adequate training and support to apply the ISH.
  2. CSC uses a comprehensive and holistic approach to determine initial security classification, including actuarial tools, structured professional judgment approaches, assessment of individual case specifics, a comprehensive analysis and, when applicable, consideration of Indigenous Social History factors.

    With respect to reclassification, CSC uses the Security Reclassification Scale for Women (SRSW), in conjunction with professional judgment to determine a woman’s security level. 

    CSC is proactively undertaking a revalidation exercise of the Custody Rating Scale (CRS) for women and racialized offenders, in collaboration with external experts, to ensure the tool remains valid and reliable. CSC has also partnered with the University of Regina who is working, at arms-length, to develop an Indigenous-informed security classification process, from the ground up, to ensure it is gender-informed and culturally relevant for Indigenous peoples.  This project is in its third year and, as a next step, Indigenous communities will be consulted.

    CSC has engaged in significant staff training to ensure staff consider Indigenous Social History (ISH) in a meaningful way for initial security classification decisions and re-classification.  ISH training is included in the initial training for Parole Officers and is also a component of the Indigenous Intervention Centres (IIC) training. In addition to that training, in 2018, CSC developed the Indigenous Social History Tool (ISHT) that provides guidance on how to consider Indigenous Social History in case management practices, recommendations and decisions for Indigenous offenders. Indigenous Intergenerational Trauma and its impact on Indigenous offender rehabilitation was included in the Parole Officer Continuous Development (POCD) 2019/2020 training. CSC also collaborated with KAIROS Canada in 2019 to facilitate Train-the-Trainer sessions, which resulted in CSC staff being certified in the KAIROS Blanket Exercise (KBE). This training better positions staff to understand the impacts and to make trauma informed recommendations and decisions, ensuring that the ISH is appropriately considered.   Foundations for Indigenous Corrections (FIC) is a new mandatory training for all non Correctional Officer (CX) staff focusing on knowledge of Indigenous history and culturally specific considerations including: recognizing ISH and its application within CSC and the implementation of ISH considerations when working with Indigenous offenders.

    CSC is strengthening its compliance monitoring and reviews to ensure that there is proper consideration of the ISH for security decisions.

  3. Once again, I recommend that the level system for maximum-security women be immediately rescinded.
  4. The level system is an essential element in the effective management of women offenders as it provides opportunity for maximum security offenders to engage in their correctional interventions while modeling acceptable behaviour to support their transition from maximum security to lower security levels. In addition to the interventions, services and activities offered to maximum-security women on the Secure Unit (SU), inmates have access to shared space such as healthcare, spiritual, recreational and vocational areas outside of the unit. They are also provided access to activities and interventions outside of the SU deemed appropriate to the needs and risk specific to the offender. This is unique to women’s corrections and allows for a graduated transition and ultimately a more successful reintegration. This is facilitated through the Reintegration Movement Levels that are outlined in CD 578 Intensive Intervention Strategy in Women Offender Institutions/Units.  This responsive approach allows for earlier interaction with general population and eases the transition from a highly structured environment to a community-living environment.

    The Reintegration Movement plans are reviewed every two weeks at the Interdisciplinary Team meeting with the aim of reducing security restrictions and successfully integrating the women into lower security levels as soon as possible. Without the ability to allow interaction and access to general population activities, the transition to lower security classification will inevitably be slower. As such the Reintegration Movement levels is an integrated model that allows SU women to minimize time spent on the SU and maximize reintegration outcomes.

  5. I reiterate my recommendation for alternative accommodations for women housed in Secure Units and their eventual closure. Funding and resources currently dedicated to Secure Unit operation should be redirected to better support and address the unique needs of women, particularly Indigenous women.
  6. Alternative accommodations, such as the Structured Living Environment, Pathways Unit, Enhanced Support Houses and Structured Intervention Units are well established at women offender institutions, and provide responsive interventions in accordance with risk assessments, security needs and correctional planning.

    The secure units are there to manage the higher risks that some women present.  In addition, maximum-security women who reside in the SU have access to shared spaces in the main compound of the institution (e.g., gym, recreation facilities, health services, spiritual and vocational areas) as well as activities and interventions provided outside the SU, as appropriate.

    CSC will continue to examine its policies and procedures to identify further opportunities to facilitate the timely assessment for the movement of women offenders to lower security levels, while ensuring the continuum of mental health supports, cultural activities, and correctional programming and interventions as required.  Through robust review and inclusion of the Indigenous Social History in all decision-making, CSC has noted some improvements.

    In 2014-15, there were an average of 71 women classified as maximum security, and this number has decreased to 56 in 2021-2022.  In addition, the rate of transition to higher classification for women has steadily declined since 2017-18 from a rate of 92.6 (rate per 1000) to 62.8 in 2021-2022.

    Building on the current allocations of funding and resources, CSC will explore other avenues for funding to better support and respond to the unique needs of women, particularly Indigenous women.

  7. I recommend that CSC:
    1. Conduct a review of the program requirements and eligibility criteria for the Mother-Child program, with a view to increasing access and participation in the program and removing barriers, particularly for Indigenous mothers; and
    2. Collect, track and publicly report on participation in the Mother-Child program to better understand who it is serving and how the program is functioning.

    Building on the several decades of the operation of the mother-child program, the Women Offender Sector (WOS) has engaged with the Internal Audit & Evaluation Sector to include the evaluation/audit of the Mother-Child Program in its annual plan and to inform any adjustments that may be required. In the meantime, WOS will continue to review the programs requirements with a view to increasing the participation of eligible women offenders, especially Indigenous offenders.

    In the meantime, to increase women offenders’ awareness of the program, WOS will develop and distribute a bulletin to be posted at all women offender institutions promoting the program, its admission criteria and the application process.  In addition, WOS will enhance its engagement with external partners and agencies (e.g. provincial and territorial corrections as well as child welfare agencies and where applicable, Indigenous child welfare agencies, etc.) to strengthen our mutual collaboration.  As a first step, WOS will engage with provincial and territorial correctional partners through a Heads of Corrections meeting where individual and shared responsibilities will be discussed to enhance case preparation and transition for women offenders.

    With respect to reporting, WOS has engaged with the Information Management Services (IMS) Branch to explore ways to ensure information related to participation in the Institutional Mother-Child Program is captured to allow for collection, tracking and analysis of the program data. CSC will continue to ensure that participation data is adequately collected and, where appropriate and with due consideration to the Privacy Act requirements, publicly reported.

  8. I recommend that, without any further delay, CSC outfit all of its prisoner escort vehicles, including those currently in service, with seatbelt assemblies, handholds and other safety and restraint features that would meet its obligation to provide safe and humane custody of prisoners under security escort. I further recommend that CSC return to the drawing table to reconsider its planned “modernization” of its security escort fleet that is more responsive to Office concerns and recommendations.
  9. CSC has made considerable progress with the modernization of the escort fleet. To date, approximately 21% of our fleet of security escort vehicles have been replaced with new models with another 14% scheduled for this fiscal year.  These are equipped with cameras to allow live viewing by escort officers in the main cabin, improved heating/air conditioning for offenders, emergency exits, an L-shaped bench in both sides of the insert allowing taller offenders to extend their legs along the length of the insert, and the extension of the length of the security insert.

    Additionally, CSC will be seeking official confirmation from Transport Canada that the current security escort vehicles are in compliance with the provisions of the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

  10. I recommend that CSC:
    1. Develop policy to ensure all Black prisoners have consistent access to appropriate personal care products and that a wider selection of food items that reflect the cultural diversity of the prison population, are included on the national canteen list.

    Based on consultation with inmates at various sites, CSC has made available culturally appropriate items such as food, and hygiene and hair products of various brands.

    Commissioner’s Directive (CD) 890, Inmate Owned Canteens specifies that regional canteen lists are to include products, such as personal care and food items, that take into consideration the religious, spiritual, cultural, and gender diversity needs of the inmate population. To ensure consistent access for all Black inmates, CSC will highlight the importance of this existing policy requirement with Regions, and will conduct a review exercise to confirm that personal care and food items are available in all canteens.

    1. Develop and immediately distribute a bulletin ensuring all institutions are aware that do-rags are considered a cultural item and can be part of an individual’s personal property. This should be incorporated into the next review of CD 767: Ethnocultural Offenders – Services and Interventions.
    2. Review its positions with respect to hair extensions from a dignity and diversity perspective rather than solely through a security lens.

    Do-rags and hair extensions are currently being assessed for inclusion on the list of approved items in CD 566-12, Personal Property of Offenders. The CD is currently being updated and going through formal consultation. The OCI’s recommendations and comments, along with those offered by internal and external stakeholders, will be taken into consideration.

  11. I recommend that CSC conduct a comparative review, in partnership with Black community groups or external experts, to examine cumulative time spent by Black individuals before reclassification and cascading to lower levels of security.
  12. CSC is currently finalizing a quantitative research study examining admission, in-custody, and community supervision indicators for ethnocultural offenders. This includes results that are relevant to the issue of classification, and incorporates sub-analyses specific to Black offenders. The quantitative study will provide critical information for evidence informed services, programs and interventions by looking at: diversity trends, admission profiles, in-custody experiences, and release outcomes. CSC is also finalizing qualitative research, in collaboration with Nipissing University, to better understand the correctional experience of offenders on conditional release who self-identified during CSC’s admission screening protocol as being of ethnocultural background, including Black offenders.

    In addition, CSC will take the following actions:

    • Conduct research examining the cumulative time spent by Black individuals before reclassification and cascading to lower levels of security. This research will be completed during 2023-24.
    • Develop and implement a consultation strategy that includes consultations on the research questions and methodology, before being launched, as well as a follow up discussion on the results. Consultations would include members of CSC’s advisory committees, Black community groups and/or external experts with interest in criminal / social justice matters. Consultations will begin in 2022-23 and continue into 2023-24.
  13. I recommend that CSC conduct a systemic review of its use of the Security Threat Groups classification criteria to ensure that only relevant information corroborated by external law enforcement, court or judicial authorities. And supported by evidence, are used to designate an individual with a Security Threat Group.
  14. Commissioner’s Directive 568-3, Identification and Management of Security Threat Groups is currently under review. The Preventive Security and Intelligence (PSI) Branch recognizes the need to place more emphasis on dynamic behaviours and that Security Threat Groups (STG) affiliation alone should not preclude an offender’s ability to participate in institutional level activities or initiatives, nor be considered a significant risk factor in and of itself. Every law enforcement agency (including CSC) has its own processes for verification of STG affiliation that are tailored to their particular operational environment. CSC works closely with criminal justice and law enforcement partners, as well as judicial partners to access relevant information related to STGs.  As such, Security Intelligence Officers (SIOs) regularly utilize information from these agencies (particularly police) in the assessment process.

    While relevant information from law enforcement and external partners is considered to designate/assess an individual with a STG, CSC also takes into consideration other information that can be supported with evidence, including those that may not be readily available to external agencies.

    CSC relies on the training, experience and knowledge of its staff, specifically its SIOs, to utilize these criteria when making their recommendations to the decision-maker. Offenders are included in this process and have an opportunity to provide their own information for consideration.

    Accurate STG affiliation information is an important component in population management, the security of institutions, and the safety of the persons therein. As such, CSC is committed to continuing to refine its affiliation processes based on research and best practices. To this end, CSC recently promulgated an Interim Policy Bulletin related to CD 568-3 and an Assessment of STG Affiliation Tool. The purpose of this tool is to provide clarification and national standards for the assessment of affiliation process, as well as the recording of this information. 

    CSC is currently engaged in multiple research projects related to STGs on various topics, including characteristics of STG affiliated offenders, pathways to STG involvement, and disaffiliation/disengagement. CSC will review the research projects to develop takeaways that can be used to enhance our policies and processes related to STGs. The research projects are all underway, and expected to be finalized and available for review by early next fiscal year.

  15. I recommend that, within the next year, the Service develop a gang disaffiliation strategy. This strategy should:
    1. Be responsive to the unique needs of young Black, Indigenous and Peoples of Colour as well as women.
    2. Include opportunities (e.g. workshops, seminars, public speakers) where individuals can engage with their culture and/or spirituality.
    3. Incorporate best practices and lessons learned from community-based initiatives, correctional jurisdictions, and other public safety domains.

    CSC responds to the unique needs of ethnocultural and Indigenous offenders, by providing them with culturally-sensitive interventions, programs and services. CSC also partners with community organizations, to enhance ethnocultural and Indigenous interventions, both inside institutions and in the community.

    CSC recently hired an external expert to assist in development of training related to STG affiliation (including disengagement) as part of the Parole Officer Continuous Development Training for 2022. CSC has also completed a research review of relevant literature, which will inform next steps in the area of disengagement.

    In addition, CSC is working to develop a multi-disciplinary, comprehensive inventory of STG-related activities and initiatives, both in the institutions and in the community. These activities include those linked to enforcement, management, education, prevention, and disengagement. Once finalized, the inventory will be used to identify gaps, challenges and best practices. This analysis will also support strategic planning to continue to enhance CSC’s approach to STGs, specifically as it relates to interventions and disengagement.

    The analysis and identification of gaps, challenges and best practices has recently started. The analysis and inventory is expected to be finalized early next fiscal year. 

  16. I recommend that CSC promptly develop an action plan in consultation with stakeholders to address the relationship between use-of-force and systemic racism against Indigenous and Black individuals and publicly report on actionable changes to policy and practice that will effectively reduce the overrepresentation of these groups among those exposed to uses of force.
  17. Work is underway related to use of force incidents. A research project was initiated to explore the relationship between use of force and race, which will further enhance CSC’s understanding of any potential issues. The results of the research project will be shared and used as part of the analysis of the use of force incidents. Once completed, CSC will engage with stakeholders, including members of the National Ethnocultural Advisory Committee, the National Indigenous Advisory Committee, the National Association Active in Criminal Justice, Citizen Advisory Committee Members and the OCI, to obtain their input.

    Should any trends emerge from the analysis, CSC will develop an action plan, in consultation with the stakeholders, to reduce the overrepresentation of Indigenous and Black individuals in the use of force incidents. The research project is underway and is expected to be completed in December 2022.

    In addition, use of force decision making scenarios are addressed annually within CSC’s continuous training program for Correctional Officers/Primary Worker group and are an essential component in our Correctional Officer/Primary Worker recruit training.   Recruits and front line officers are trained to evaluate each individual situation and select the least restrictive measure consistent with the protection of society, staff members and offenders.

  18. I recommend that CSC expand its staff diversity training to include representation from Black community groups and external experts who can provide a more complete and relevant perspective. This training should be mandatory, in-person and oriented to practical and lived experiences of Black people.
  19. CSC will consult Black community groups and external experts to review CSC’s diversity training to get their views and perspectives. A national implementation strategy will be developed and submitted for approval at the Learning and Development Governance Board.

    With respect to recruitment to enhance staff diversity, in 2021, CSC has set representation objectives for visible minority employees that further exceed workforce availability and take into account the offender population.

  20. I recommend that CSC develop a training program for front-line health professionals. This program should draw on the most recent research on racial bias and its impact on medical decisions and procedures.
  21. CSC understands that implicit and unconscious racial bias is present in a variety of social systems in Canada, including Canada’s health care system. Given it has been recognized as a systemic issue, CSC is seized with the need to reflect and act to eliminate any racial bias and/or discrimination in its operations and practices. Similar to the larger health care community, CSC Health Services is working to address racial bias and its impact on medical decisions and procedures to create an equitable environment. Although systemic change will take time, we are committed to put into place actions to start addressing this pressing issue immediately. In consultation with external experts in racial bias, CSC commits to providing health care professionals, including front line health professionals, with ongoing professional development to deliver the most recent information available for Indigenous, Black, and other Ethnocultural and racialized groups.

  22. I recommend that CSC develop a national strategy that specifically addresses the unique lived experiences and barriers faced by federally sentenced Black individuals. This strategy should include the following elements:
    1. Targeted and adapted correctional programming;
    2. Liaison Officer program dedicated to the needs of Black people;
    3. Use of Social History in case management decision-making drawing on what has been learned through the use of IRCA’s in Nova Scotia;
    4. A targeted research program examining correctional outcomes;
    5. Regular involvement of Black Community Groups in prison in-reach that removes the barriers to their participation; and
    6. Dedicated and long-term funding.

    While CSC has taken action to address gaps for Black offenders, and that outcomes for Black offenders have continued to improve (for example, 89.7% of Black offenders are not re-admitted to federal custody within five years following the end of their sentence, as compared to 89.6% for the total population), CSC believes that more can and should be done for Black offenders as they are the second most overrepresented population in CSC’s care and custody. In April of 2022, prior to the OCI recommendation, CSC had begun developing a Black Offender Strategy to identify ways to improve Black offender correctional outcomes. CSC has since expanded its strategy to also address the Office of the Correctional Investigator’s recommendations.

    CSC’s Black Offender Strategy will be developed by reviewing and analyzing relevant reports and recommendations, current offerings for Black offenders and successful past pilots, research results and program performance measures, and the organizational resourcing model. CSC will review the results of two new ethnocultural studies that provide information on Black offenders to identify strengths and opportunities for action, including a new qualitative study on ethnocultural offenders produced by external researchers from Nipissing University. The Strategy will define priority areas for future research, performance measures and resource needs within CSC. It will be reported under CSC’s Anti-Racism Framework and position CSC to develop and implement bold, evidence-based actions that better respond to the needs of Black offenders.  A closer look at the evidence will allow CSC to better explore the needs of Black offenders against the resources it has in place, and whether they are most effective.

    At present, CSC has approximately 60 staff in the capacity of Ethnocultural Site Coordinators. In addition, some regions have piloted a Reintegration Officer position to inform future considerations. CSC will evaluate these roles and consider whether other dedicated resources or options should be explored to support offenders.

    The Central Ontario District has championed the development of a Black Social History (BSH) initiative. The Ontario Region is piloting it across both districts and at the intake assessment unit of Joyceville Institution. Within the region, a guidance document was prepared and shared with all implicated staff along with targeted training. CSC will be reviewing the results of this pilot, including key learnings and the Impact of Race and Culture Assessments, to determine next steps and potential scalability of this initiative nationally. CSC is also exploring targeted training on the Ethnocultural Situational Stressors, which are outlined in the Ethnocultural Offender Responsivity Kit, to assist Parole Officers in understanding the background, meaning, and relevance of each stressor and how to consider ethnocultural offender needs and identify the most beneficial programs, interventions and services within the initial correctional plan and subsequent updates to it.

    Over the years, CSC has produced several reports on ethnocultural offenders that include disaggregated data by race and ethnicity. CSC will continue to look at areas for further research, and will also look at its performance measurement framework to ensure that reporting on outcomes is broken down by race and gender so that CSC can monitor results in an ongoing way through the Departmental Results Report.

    CSC works regularly with community stakeholders, volunteers, and partners who provide support to offenders. We are currently enhancing our national framework, tools and outreach in order to better share and promote opportunities available to offenders in communities across Canada. This will help ensure that Black-led community groups are able to be involved more consistently with inmates both inside our institutions, and upon an offender’s release, in order to promote their successful reintegration.

  23. I recommend that CSC immediately develop national policy for the use of Voluntary Limited Association Ranges (VLRAs) and any other sub-population living unit or range that clearly identifies:
    1. The grounds for placement outside of general population.
    2. The legal processes that define the external to which rights, freedoms and privileges can be restricted, including association, programs and services provided, out-of-cell time, etc.
    3. The rights, privileges and conditions of confinement which they should be afforded.
    4. The degree of review (monitoring) required to facilitate the return of the incarcerated persons to a less restrictive correctional environment, including the measures which should be taken to permit release to general population as soon as possible.

    The routine on the Voluntary Limited Association Range (VLAR) units/ranges mirrors the routine of the mainstream population and there are no restrictions related to conditions of confinement. Offenders are permitted time out of their cell and provided the opportunity for meaningful human contact, and have access to their case management team, programs, health services, visits, showers, laundry, yard, gym, employment, etc. It is also important to note that programs are offered to inmates in VLARs and other sub-populations, and being in these units does not constitute an inclusion or exclusion criterion for program enrollment. The decision to attend programs is ultimately made by each offender. 

    VLAR’s are currently being reviewed to see if there are any gaps to be addressed.

  24. I recommend that CSC consult with Indigenous community groups on the job description, role, mandate and hiring process for the Deputy Commissioner for Indigenous Corrections position, and that they report publicly on their plans and short-term timelines to create and staff this position.
  25. CSC will be consulting the National Indigenous Advisory Committee, which has members from First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities, on the work description, role and mandate of the Deputy Commissioner for Indigenous Corrections, and will keep the Committee apprised on the plans and timelines to staff the position.

  26. I recommend the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada include the Correctional Service of Canada and the Office of the Correctional Investigator in the development and implementation of the Indigenous Justice Strategy (IJS). Furthermore, the IJS should seek to redistribute a significant portion of the current resources within the federal correctional system to Indigenous communities and groups for the care, custody, and supervision of Indigenous peoples.
  27. The over-representation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system is a serious and complex issue with many root causes, including systemic discrimination and the legacy of colonialism. CSC is committed to accelerating work to improve outcomes for Indigenous offenders in federal corrections in meaningful ways, and is applying heightened efforts to address the systemic factors that led to this issue.

    The factors bringing Indigenous people into federal institutions and preventing them from safely and successfully reintegrating upon release go well beyond the capacity of federal corrections alone to address. CSC is eager to complement and expand on its internal efforts to address the over-incarceration of Indigenous people through active participation in whole-of-government initiatives, such as the Indigenous Justice Strategy (IJS), to develop bold new approaches to the administration of criminal justice and bolster levers for safe and successful reintegration.

    The Government of Canada is working to advance reconciliation and renew the relationship with Indigenous peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership. Addressing endemic differential outcomes for Indigenous people in federal corrections through approaches, which are responsive to their unique needs and circumstances, is an important foundation for this renewed relationship. In January 2021, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada was mandated with developing, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous partners, provinces, and territories, an IJS to address systemic discrimination and the overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples in the justice system. Early pre-engagement conversations with Indigenous partners have demonstrated that this work must address matters that span across the justice system continuum, from prevention to re-integration.

    CSC understands that effectively developing the IJS requires a broad, collaborative, inclusive, distinctions- and regionally-based engagement process with Indigenous peoples, provinces and territories, and justice stakeholders and practitioners, which should model the Government’s commitment to implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, respecting existing relationships, and embodying the spirit of nation-to-nation and Inuit-Crown, government-to-government relations. As such, CSC is represented at all levels of the federal IJS governance, which is. informing the federal contribution to the cooperative development of an IJS that identifies legislative, program and policy initiatives to address overrepresentation of Indigenous people and systemic discrimination in the Canadian justice system.

    CSC will continue to support the IJS and its engagement processes, including through participation in Indigenous- and Justice-led engagements with Indigenous peoples, provinces, and territories, through horizontal collaboration across government departments and agencies and by developing a coordinated response to proposed corrections-focused priorities for the IJS. Engagement on the IJS is expected to continue through 2023. A draft IJS will be developed based on the recommendations arising from engagement, and will be shared with partners for collective consideration. The recommendation from the Office of the Correctional Investigator to “redistribute a significant portion of the current resources within the federal correctional system to Indigenous communities and groups for the care, custody, and supervision of Indigenous peoples” has been noted by both Justice Canada and CSC, and is being included in the list of recommendations for collective consideration as part of this process.

    CSC will continue to work with Indigenous stakeholders with a vested interest in federal corrections through the delivery of culturally responsive programming, interventions and support services. CSC's efforts are part of a whole-of-government approach, working with horizontal partners, organizations, all levels of government, Indigenous communities and Elders to address issues spanning a whole continuum, before, while and after a person comes into contact with the criminal justice system.

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