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Women Offender Programs and Issues

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The Cross Gender Monitoring Project
3rd and Final Annual Report

iv) The Preferred Option

While each option listed above have benefits and drawbacks, after careful consideration, we are recommending the option D that "An independent body would investigate allegations of sexual misconduct and possibly other kinds of serious inmate allegations" as the preferred route as it provides the greatest capacity for a mechanism to deal with these serious complaints that would be, and would be seen to be, unbiased, independent, knowledgeable and fair.

Recommendation 6:

It is recommended that the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA) be amended at the earliest opportunity to create an arm's length body that would handle allegations of sexual misconduct and other serious allegations by inmates such as physical assault.

The CCRA amendments should include:

  • the definition of sexual misconduct
  • the role and composition of the tribunal
  • mechanisms for investigations
  • timelines for all stages of the process
  • penalties for various types of sexual misconduct
  • whistleblowers protection
  • provisions for protection of complainants
  • provisions for due process for respondents
  • provisions requiring preventive measures, including screening, training and ongoing professional development
  • provisions for hiring a secretariat
  • the Secretariat to the body should be adequately resourced on a long term basis.
  • The body and it's Secretariat should be arm's length to the Solicitor General and the Ministry itself. At the same time, the body should be given full authority to conduct a proper and thorough investigation.
  • Federally Sentenced Women who are housed through federal/provincial agreements in provincial facilities should have equity of treatment and protections with other Federally Sentenced Women. Federal/Provincial agreements should clearly indicate that Federally Sentenced Women have access to this new body for allegations of sexual misconduct.

An independent body created by legislative amendment is the favoured option for a number of reasons. Such a body has been recommended by the Correctional Investigator after years of experience with the internal systems of CSC for dealing with such concerns. This model ensures an informed fact finding by persons who are seen by all parties to be impartial. Centralizing the investigative mechanism for serious complaints including sexual misconduct allegations will allow for investigators to be knowledgeable or trained in sexual abuse/misconduct investigations as well as corrections. This process would allow for greater transparency and therefore accountability than an internal CSC investigative process. Centralizing fact finding for these kinds of complaints will also ensure that statistics can be kept of allegations so that trends can be more easily tracked and processes can be audited. An effective process for fact finding and discipline should also act as a deterrent to prevent sexual misconduct against female prisoners.

The creation of an independent body to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct as well as other serious allegations should in no way be construed to be replacing or limiting the function of the Correctional Investigator's function. Whatever option is chosen for handling of sexual misconduct allegations, there will always have to be a body that monitors or audits the handling of such allegations. Indeed, should the option of changing the mandate of the C.I. such that they are the body to investigate and make enforceable findings on allegations, another body would have to be mandated to monitor the C.I.'s handling of these allegations. The C.I. is the body who is now responsible for auditing the handling of complaints or allegations by inmates. However, they have been chronically under-resourced for this work, particularly with respect to dedicated staff positions for women prisoners. In addition, the independence of the C.I. should be reinforced by amending the CCRA to report directly to parliament.

Recommendation 7:

That the CCRA be amended to require that the Correctional Investigator report directly to Parliament; that the monitoring or audit responsibilities be recognized and properly resourced by providing sufficient funds for at least two full time staff dedicated to Federally Sentenced Women.

Recommendation 8:

In the event that the federal government opt for continuing to handle allegations of sexual misconduct made by Federally Sentenced Women within the Correctional Service of Canada,

It is recommended that any boards of investigation be composed of a majority of community representatives who have expertise in sexual abuse/misconduct.