The Correctional Process

The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) oversees an offender's correctional process through several stages:

The assessment

CSC's involvement in the criminal justice process begins once an offender has been sentenced to serve a sentence of two or more years.

When an inmate first arrives in CSC custody, a full intake assessment is completed.

This assessment typically takes 70 to 90 days to complete to allow information to be gathered about the inmate and the offence. Information sources include: police, courts, provincial correctional centres/remand, victims, family members and the inmate.

Security classification

Inmates are classified at minimum, medium or maximum security.

When assessing an inmate's security level, CSC must consider three factors:

  • institutional adjustment
  • escape risk
  • risk to the public, in the event of an escape.

CSC men's institutions are classified by security level: Maximum, medium or minimum. For women, all Institutions are classified as multi-level. Inmates are placed in institutions according to their security classification.

The correctional plan

  • A correctional plan is developed for each inmate. It outlines treatment and recommendations for rehabilitation.
  • CSC provides a broad range of programs to match the inmate's needs and address their re-offending.

The plan serves as a basis to monitor the inmate's progress throughout their sentence and is updated until warrant expiry.

Case management

Case management is an ongoing process. It includes assessing, and supervising offenders throughout their sentence.

Each inmate is assigned a Case Management Team which includes:

  • a Correctional Officer
  • a Parole Officer
  • a Manager of Assessment and Intervention
  • an Aboriginal Liaison Officer (if applicable)
  • an Elder (if applicable)

The team members work together to support the inmate's rehabilitation efforts.  They develop and evaluate the inmate's behaviour, work performance and progress they are making in their correctional plan.

Preparation for release

There are various forms of release to the community. Some release decisions are granted by the warden of the institution and others are based on decisions by the Parole Board of Canada. Releases include:

  • Temporary Absences
  • Work Releases
  • Day Parole
  • Full Parole
  • Statutory Release
  • Long-Term Supervision Order

Before being considered for release, the inmate must prepare a detailed release plan. This includes information about where they would like to be released, the support network they have available, employment or education plans, as well as intended leisure activities.

Risk of re-offending is assessed and a strategy for the offender's transition to the community is developed. The institutional Parole Officer and the community Parole Officer work together with the inmate to create a viable plan. After gathering the necessary information, the Parole Officer prepares the required documents. Either a positive or a negative recommendation is sent to the Parole Board of Canada for decisions under its authority.

In any inmate-related decision, CSC takes into account the protection of society, including any victims, as paramount for consideration

Community corrections

  • Research shows that offenders are more likely to become law-abiding citizens if they participate in a program of gradual, supervised release. Because of this, most federal offenders serve the first part of their sentence in an institution and the last part in the community.
  • A release to the community helps offenders adjust to life outside the institution. After a thorough assessment, offenders whose level of risk for committing new crimes is judged to be manageable and offenders who seem unlikely to break certain rules may be granted conditional release. This is also known as parole and statutory release.
  • Once offenders are released, they must abide by a set of standard and sometimes special conditions. If they do not abide by their conditions, their risk is re-assessed and they may be sent back to an institution.

Warrant expiry (end of the sentence)

  • Federal offenders must be released, by law, at the end of their sentence. This means, CSC and PBC no longer have the authority to impose release conditions or supervise them, except for offenders who are subject to a Long-Term Supervision Order (LTSO).
  • A court-ordered LTSO extends the length of time CSC can supervise and support an offender in the community, for up to 10 years. The LTSO starts once the offender reaches their Warrant Expiry Date.
  • Offenders serving life sentences are the exception. They remain under CSC's jurisdiction for life whether they are incarcerated or supervised in the community.

Updated January 2019

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