Correctional Service Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Common menu bar links

Research Brief

Warning This Web page has been archived on the Web.

Summary of Findings of the 1995 CSC National Inmate Survey

No B-14

Prepared by
David Robinson and Luisa Mirabelli

Research Division
Correctional Research and Development
Correctional Service Canada

March 1996

Table of Contents

 

List of Tables

List of Figures

 

Introduction

The National Inmate Survey was conducted in the Fall of 1995 and involved 4,285 inmates who were randomly selected to participate. The survey provided an opportunity for the Service to address the need for new information along a number of important dimensions.

The recommendation by the Expert Committee on Aids in Prisons (ECAP) to conduct research on the awareness and behaviour of inmates with respect to HIV/AIDS issues was a compelling factor in the decision of the Service to conduct the survey. In addition, a number of current issues arising from institutional management concerns had been identified and the survey was viewed as a valuable tool for collecting information from offenders on these matters. Double bunking, smoking, views about rehabilitation programs (e.g., programming for Aboriginal offenders), inmate drug use, and opinions about urinalysis were some of the issues about which the Service required more knowledge. The survey also provided an occasion to seek inmate input on their conditions of confinement, a requirement outlined in Section 74 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. In initiating the exercise, CSC joined a number of jurisdictions from other countries which have found inmate surveys to be useful methods of gathering information on a variety of issues.

The inmate survey was limited to male inmates under the jurisdiction of the Correctional Service of Canada. At the time the survey was being conducted CSC was in the process of establishing five new federal facilities to accommodate the federal female population and phasing out the operation of its only federal institution for women in Canada. Given the restructuring of federal incarceration for female offenders, it was decided that a later survey would be conducted for federal female offenders when a more realistic assessment of the new conditions of incarceration for women could be made.

This document provides a summary of selected results of the Inmate Survey. A more detailed presentation of the results summarized here is available in a two-volume final report. The more lengthy report displays national results for 27 global measures employed in the survey. The report also provides breakdowns by security level and displays the results for each institution. An accompanying appendix presents the results for each questionnaire item with regional and security level breakdowns. Additional reports on specific topics (e.g., profiles of Aboriginal vs. Non-Aboriginal inmates) from the inmate survey will also be available from Correctional Research and Development.

This brief report focuses on the national results of the survey. However, regional variations and differences in results across minimum, medium and maximum security levels are reported in some instances. The current report also refers to results of inmate surveys conducted in other jurisdictions. Comparative data on some of the factors measured in the CSC survey were available from the British Prison Service, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Scottish Prison Service, and a national survey of U. S. inmates under state jurisdictions.

Methodology

The Research Division of Correctional Research and Development carried out the design and piloting of the inmate survey questionnaire after seeking input from a variety of internal and external stakeholders. The pilot, which incorporated a random sample of inmates from each security level, supplied a mechanism for testing the draft questionnaire and seeking inmate input on the content of the survey. The pilot also furnished evidence that inmates would be willing to participate in the survey.

A random sample using stratification by institution was designed to maximize confidence in the results for each institution. The large sample that resulted permits a high degree of confidence in conclusions at the national and regional levels while also providing sufficient representation of individual institutions and a number of offender sub-groups (e.g., Aboriginal offenders, offenders with indeterminate sentences).

The firm Price Waterhouse conducted the field work for the inmate survey. The firm randomly selected inmates using lists provided by CSC. Research staff employed by the firm administered the questionnaires to groups of inmates in the institutions using a computer-scanable questionnaire.

The sampling design called for completion of questionnaires by 4,425 inmates. Ninety-seven percent (96.8%) of the sample quota was achieved - a total sample of 4,285 completed questionnaires. The high completion rate was achieved through the use of a replacement procedure whereby initially selected inmates who did not participate were randomly substituted with new respondents. In total, 34.6% of all randomly selected inmates who were invited to participate refused to complete a questionnaire. Each respondent who refused to participate, or was otherwise unavailable, was replaced by a second inmate who resembled the replaced inmate on age and sentence commencement date.

The average age of the inmates in the sample was 35 years, 15% were Aboriginal persons, 35% were currently married or had common law partners, and 36% had completed high school. Of those inmates who reported on the offences associated with their current terms, 31.5% reported robbery, 27.3% break and enter or fraud, 18.4% sex offences, and 18.1% reported drug offences. A variety of violent offences (e.g., murder, manslaughter, weapon offences, assaults) were reported by 46.6% of the sample. Some inmates reported having committed more than one type of offence.

Seventy-eight percent of offenders had served at least one term of provincial incarceration, 63% had served at least one previous federal term, and 23% indicated that their current admission involved a return to federal custody following failure on conditional release. Twenty-nine percent of the sample indicated that they had spent an aggregate of 10 or more years in prison since the age of 18.

Sixteen percent of the sample indicated that they were currently in protective custody facilities. Of the total number of inmates 20.5% were serving indeterminate sentences and 20.4% of these said they were eligible for parole at the time of the survey. Sixty percent of inmates with indeterminate sentences claimed to be eligible for parole. In total, 57.2% of all inmates reported that they were currently eligible for some form of conditional release. Fourteen percent of the sample said they were being detained past their statutory release date.

Results

The survey questionnaire was organized into five main categories: Background (i.e., inmate demographic and criminal history information reported above); Institutional Environment; Security; Staff and Programs; and Health. The results outlined below follow the organization of the questionnaire.

Institutional Environment

Physical Environment

A global measure was used to summarize inmate perceptions of the institutional environment. The summary measure included opinions about prison crowding, food, noise levels, privacy, and cleanliness of facilities. Overall, 30% of inmates held favorable opinions about the institutional environment with Ontario region inmates (24%) showing the lowest approval and Prairie region inmates holding the most positive views (34%). As Figure 1 shows, positive evaluations of the institutional environment varied considerably by institutional security level. Positive approval ranged from less than 10% in one maximum security facility to nearly 80% in a minimum security institution.

Undisplayed Graphic

Table 1 shows that, where comparative figures were available from other jurisdictions, CSC inmates were more positive on some of the physical environment variables and more negative on others.

Table 1

Cross-jurisdictional comparisons of Inmate Assessment of Prison Environments

Jurisdiction % Satisfaction or Approval with % Perception of

Food Cleanliness Over-Crowding

Correctional Service Canada

28

45

61

British Prison Service

13



Scottish Prison Service

49

71


Federal Bureau of Prisons



70

Double Bunking

Of all inmates who completed the survey, 26.4% said that they were currently sharing cells with other inmates. Among those offenders who were accommodated in cells as opposed to housing units or dormitories, 31% reported that they shared their cell accommodation with other inmates. Table 2 compares the rate of double-bunking in cells reported by CSC inmates with rates from other jurisdictions. Of the four comparisons available, CSC inmates reported the lowest proportions of double occupancy in cells. Among CSC inmates who were double-bunked, 37% had been sharing their cells for less than 4 months while 17% had been sharing for 12 months or more.

Table 2

Cross-jurisdictional Comparison of Rates of Double-Bunking in Cells

Jurisdiction % Double-Bunked

Correctional Service Canada

26.4

British Prison Service

35.0

Federal Bureau of Prisons

50.0

Scottish Prison Service

32.0

A global indicator measuring approval of double-bunking conditions was devised to reflect evaluations of cell size and cell mate compatibility. Forty-four percent of inmates who reported double occupancy expressed an average opinion within the positive range of responses. Seventy percent of those double-bunked indicated that they got along with their cell mates, while 12% said they felt threatened by the persons sharing their cells. Increasing the size of cells would improve the double-bunking situation for 71%. On the other hand, 29% felt that better cell mate selection procedures aimed at increasing compatibility would be crucial for improving conditions. In terms of undesirable features of shared accommodation, 71% felt that a lack of privacy was the most unpleasant thing about double-bunking while the least unpleasant feature was restrictions on cell effects (7%).

Visiting

Inmates in the sample were highly favorable about Private Family Visiting with 71% indicating that it was very important to them. Seventy-two percent of inmates indicated that they had at least one visitor since coming to the institution. Although 28% reported having no visitors since arriving at the institution, 35% of all inmates had visitors on 10 more occasions. Based on combined indicators assessing opinions about how well CSC treated visitors, restrictiveness of visiting policy, and conditions of visiting facilities, 37% of inmates reported positive views about visiting. Approval of visiting conditions was highest in minimum institutions (58%) and roughly comparable in mediums (34%) and maximums (33%).

Grievance Procedures

Overall, 21% of inmates said they felt that the grievance procedure was helpful in solving complaints in their institutions. Since being admitted to a CSC facility, 53% of the inmates indicated that they had filed a grievance and 12% claimed to have launched grievances more than 10 times. Fifteen percent of those who filed a grievance said they were generally satisfied with CSC`s response to their complaint. In terms of complaints registered with the Correctional Investigator, 38% of the inmates said they had filed a complaint since being admitted to a CSC facility. Among those who had filed, 26% claimed to be satisfied with the outcome of the complaint decided by the Correctional Investigator.

Transfers

Since arriving at their current institutions, 34% of inmates noted that they had applied for a transfer. Seventy-one percent claimed that they applied for a transfer to participate in programming while 24% said they applied for a transfer for personal safety reasons. Of those who had applied for a transfer, 12% agreed that CSC treated their application fairly. Twenty-two percent of inmates felt that the way CSC classifies inmates by security level was fair, ranging from 48% in minimums, 20% in mediums, and 14% in maximums.

Security

A large section of the questionnaire was devoted to issues of inmate personal security. Inmates were asked to report on experiences of physical assault or threat. Both inmate security and staff security issues were examined in the survey.

Assaults by Inmates

Table 3 displays the percentage of inmates who reported various types of assaults or threats perpetrated by other inmates in their current institutions.

Table 3

Proportion of CSC Inmates Reporting Assaults/Threats by other Inmates

Type of Assault/Threat % Inmates Reporting

Physical Assault

21

Sexual Assault

3

Pressured for Sex

6

Assaulted with Weapon

7

As the figures indicate, a relatively small proportion of inmates reported having been sexually assaulted, while about 1 in 5 inmates reported physical assaults by other inmates. In surveys conducted by the British Prison Service and the Scottish Prison Service, physical assaults were reported by 9% and 13% of inmates respectively.

Figure 2 shows regional and security level variations in CSC rates of physical assaults of inmates by other inmates. Maximum security inmates reported the highest rates of physical assaults. Ontario region inmates reported the lowest rates of physical assault, while Prairie region inmates reported the highest levels. Overall, 58% of inmates reported that they felt safe from being assaulted by other inmates while in their current institutions.

Another indicator of personal security pertains to the safety of inmate property.

Fifty-six percent of inmates felt their personal property (including pay and canteen purchases) were safe in the institution, while 5% said they were forced to give up some or all of their pay, belongings, or purchases to other inmates.

Assaults by Staff

About 8% of inmates reported that they had been assaulted by staff members in the six months prior to the survey. The rates ranged from 2% in minimums, 6% in mediums and 16% in maximum security facilities. The only other jurisdiction reporting data on assaults of inmates by staff, the Scottish Prison Survey, indicated that 12% of inmates reported assaults by staff.

Undisplayed Graphic

Assaults on Staff

Inmates responded to a number of items on their perceptions about the safety of staff members. About 22% of inmates agreed with the statement that "male staff members were likely to be assaulted" at their institutions. In terms of assaults by inmates on female staff members, 12% agreed that this was likely to occur at their institutions. There was variability by security level in perceptions about the physical security of staff. Combining both male and female staff, about 7% of inmates in minimums believed that staff were likely to be assaulted, 13% in mediums and 19% in maximums. At the same time, respondents viewed the use of physical force by inmates on staff as a relatively infrequent occurrence. About 40% felt that inmates used physical force on staff a "few times a year" and 55% felt that such events never occurred in their institutions.

Staff and Programs

The Staff and Programs section constituted the lengthiest section of the questionnaire. Inmates described their views about staff relationships, level of participation in programs, views about program helpfulness, and details about how they spent their leisure, work, and program time each day.

Relationships with Staff

A global indicator of the quality of relationships with staff was constructed to reflect inmate assessments of the extent to which staff utilized good communication procedures, were responsive to inmate suggestions/complaints, interested and concerned about their needs, likely to use physical force, and were protective of inmate physical safety. Figure 3 displays the percentage of inmates who made positive assessments of staff relationships when the various indicators of relationship quality were averaged together. The figure depicts differences in average ratings across the three security levels. Overall, 25% of inmates indicated positive relationships with staff as measured by the global scale.

At the same time, 64% of inmates felt they "got along well" with the staff in their institutions. Eighty-one percent of inmates in minimums said they got along well with staff compared to 65% in mediums and 51% in maximums.

Undisplayed Graphic

While the quality of relationships between inmates and staff were measured in inmate surveys conducted in two other jurisdictions, each prison service posed the question about relationships in different ways. Nevertheless, some comparisons are possible, as indicated in Table 4. According to the indicators sampled, the quality of ratings of CSC staff/inmate relationships was higher than the British Prison Service but lower than the Scottish Prison Service.

Table 4

Cross-jurisdictional comparisons of Quality of Relationships between Inmates and Staff

Jurisdiction Indicator %

Correctional Service Canada

"Get along well with staff"

64

British Prison Service

"Treated well by staff"

41

Scottish Prison Service

"Relationship with prison officers favorable"

77

Religious Activities

According to the survey results, 32% of inmates said they attended religious services 4 times a month or more in their current institutions, 19% a few times a year, and 49% "never". Slightly more than half of the inmate respondents (51%) said that their religious beliefs helped them survive in the institution. Forty-two percent indicated that their religious needs were adequately met at their current institutions. Satisfaction with the ability of the institution to meet religious needs was slightly higher in minimums (51%) and slightly lower in maximums (35%). About 40% said they have approached their chaplains for help with problems and 60% believed that chaplains were available to talk to inmates when they sought help.

Job and Program Participation

A large proportion of inmates held jobs in a variety of institutional settings and participated in a large proportion of the menu of personal development programs available in CSC institutions. Inmates were asked to indicate their involvement in a series of typical institutional job placements and participation in a variety of nationally standardized programs which are available in the majority of CSC institutions. Table 5 summarizes the participation rates (listed in brackets after job placements and programs). [Inmates were asked to respond "Yes" or "No" regarding their involvement in the specified job placements and programs. About 25% of inmates did not supply complete responses to all of the job/program items. Given the high rate of missing response, percentages were adjusted to reflect the likelihood that inmates who failed to respond "Yes" or "No" regarding their placement/participation indicated that they had not been involved in the given jobs/programs.] The table also exhibits the degree of satisfaction with job placements and perceived helpfulness of programs. Almost two thirds of inmates had been involved in food service jobs, about one-third had performed janitorial duties, and close to 40% reported having had jobs in building maintenance. Of the specified job placements, office/clerical work and grounds maintenance provided the highest degree of job satisfaction, while CORCAN industrial positions and food services provided somewhat less satisfaction.

Table 5

Ratings of Satisfaction with Job Placements and Helpfulness of Programs for selected Jobs and Programs

Satisfaction with Job
(% with Placement)
% Helpfulness of Program
(% Enrollment)
%

Food Services (64%)

69

CORCAN (18%)

52

Building Maintenance (39%)

76

Vocational Training (18%)

72

Grounds Maintenance (15%)

78

Adult Basic Education (36%)

70

Janitorial (33%)

70

Other Education (27%)

70

Office/Clerical (14%)

81

Therapy/Counseling (29%)

62

CORCAN - Agriculture (6%)

70

Cognitive Skills Training (41%)

68

CORCAN - Industry (26%)

63

Living Without Violence (22%)

70

Educational Assistant (24%)*

74

Family Violence Programs (13%)

72

Other Jobs (35%)

82

Parenting Skills Training (7%)

81



Anger Management (32%)

68



Leisure Education (9%)*

71



Sex Offender Programs (13%)

70



OSAPP Substance Abuse (31%)

68



Other Substance Abuse (37%)

64





*Some offenders may have defined informal educational assistant activities (e.g., helping friends) as job placements.


*Some offenders may have defined Leisure Education as any type of recreational program rather than the specific Living Skills Program by this name.


CSC inmates participated in many of the nationally available programs at high frequencies. For example, over one-third had been involved in Adult Basic Education, and close to one-third reported enrollment in anger management programs and the Offender Substance Abuse Pre-Release Program (OSAPP). The most frequently mentioned program was Cognitive Skills Training, with slightly more than 40% of inmates reporting enrollment in this core program in the Living Skills Series. The majority of inmates who participated in any given program rated it as "good" or "excellent" in terms of helpfulness. The Parenting Skills Training Program was rated most favorably with 81% of inmates who participated in the program assigning a high helpfulness rating. CORCAN (described as a program rather than job in this instance) and therapy/counseling were rated as somewhat less helpful than most of the other programs.

Programming for Aboriginal Offenders

Inmates were asked to describe their views about the effectiveness of programs for Aboriginal offenders. About 45% of inmates, regardless of their Aboriginal status, believed that Aboriginal offenders can get the help they need from the menu of programs offered to both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal offenders. In total, 47% of Aboriginal offenders endorsed this view and 45% of non-Aboriginal offenders. On the other hand, 55% of all offenders believed that Aboriginal offenders require programs that are designed and delivered by Aboriginal people. Endorsement of this view reached 82% among Aboriginal offenders and 50% among non-Aboriginal offenders. Aboriginal offenders reported a slightly higher level of participation in CSC programs than non-Aboriginal offenders. Aboriginal offenders also indicated somewhat higher levels of program helpfulness than non-Aboriginal offenders.

Attitudes Toward Programming and Rehabilitation

Table 6 summarizes a variety of related survey items which detail inmate views about several programming issues. Many of the items indicate a high degree of agreement with the philosophy of rehabilitation programming. An important indicator of support for programming involved inmate responses to a question about how CSC should devote funding if new resources became available. Forty-seven percent of inmates believed that CSC should increase the number and availability of programs for inmates if new funds were available, as opposed to 53% who believed CSC should improve the institution’s accommodations. Similarly, if faced by major budget cuts, 56% of inmates believed that programs should be cut while 44% would prefer cuts to facilities. While the majority of offenders favored resourcing on the facility side, the number of inmates who would be willing to do without institutional improvement in favor of programming options is impressive.

Table 6

Inmate Responses to Program Items

Questionnaire Items % Agreement

CSC offers enough programs to meet my needs.

34

I participate in programs so that I can learn to stay out of jail.

76

Education courses offered here provide me with the skills that I will need to get a job after release.

39

Vocational/training courses here provide me with the skills I need to get a job after release.

36

Programs should be offered early in the sentence rather than just prior to release.

79

I participate in programs only to please my case management team.

24

My correctional plan helps me understand why I got into trouble with the law.

48

Once someone gets into crime it’s impossible to go straight.

21

It would help my rehabilitation if I meet my victims under supervision.

49

Sex Offender Programming

The survey solicited particular programming information from offenders who identified themselves as sex offenders (24%). Fifty-nine percent of these offenders indicated that they had been assessed to determine whether they should receive treatment for sex offending when they started their sentences. In total, 49% indicated that they were offered sex offender treatment and 23% were currently participating in a sex offender program. A full 84% of sex offenders said that they believed it was important to receive treatment for sex offending.

Health

The health section of the questionnaire focused on a variety of health matters which are currently important in institutional settings. These included the provision of health services, smoking, drug use, emotional health. A large component of this section was devoted to behaviours which place inmates at risk of contracting HIV and other HIV awareness and education issues.

Psychological/Psychiatric Services

While 65% of inmates knew how to go about getting psychological/psychiatric services, less than half of the inmates (45%) who received such services viewed them as helpful. More positive evaluation of mental health services were reported by minimum security inmates (61%) and less positive responses were registered by medium (42%) and maximum security inmates (41%). About 53% of inmates indicated that they had seen the institutional psychologist and about a third of these inmates had contact as frequently as a few times a month or more often.

Suicide Prevention

Thirty-six percent of inmates were aware that suicide prevention and support programs were available to them and 31% said they knew how to go about participating in such programs. About 22% of inmates claimed to have received suicide prevention programs, and of this number, 25% felt that the services they received were helpful. About 15% of inmates claimed that they had had thoughts of committing suicide during the last week. Lowest among minimum security inmates (8%), among maximum security inmates 21% expressed suicidal sentiments in the last week.

Health Services

The inmate survey respondents exhibited a relatively frequent level of access to medical services with 76% having seen a doctor in the past six months and 86% having seen a nurse during the same time period. Forty-six percent of inmates felt that their non-emergency health problems had been taken care of and 49% agreed that their emergency health needs had been addressed. A slightly higher proportion (56%) felt that their dental problems had received sufficient attention.

Smoking

Seventy-two percent of inmates indicated that they were smokers and approximately 49% of this group smoked 20 or more cigarettes each day. On average there was minority support for a smoke-free environment policy in CSC institutions. Approximately 21% of inmates responded to items suggesting that they favored such a policy. Figure 4 shows that agreement with a smoke-free policy varied by security level with nearly a third of inmates in minimum security facilities showing agreement while less than 20% indicated agreement with smoke-free policies among maximum security inmates. Despite the level of disagreement with smoke-free policies, 60% of inmates who smoked said that they wanted to stop smoking. Twenty-seven percent of all inmates surveyed claimed that they were bothered by smoke from others who smoked in the institution’s living and program areas.

Undisplayed Graphic

Drug Use

Given urinalysis-based findings, it was not surprizing that many offenders reported illegal drug use in their current institutions. A third of inmates believed that more than half of the inmates in their institutions used illegal drugs in the week that preceded the survey. In total, 38% of inmates reported having used an illegal drug at least once in their current institution. The CSC rate of inside drug use compares to a rate of 45% reported by inmates in the Scottish Prison Service. The percentage of inmates reporting inside drug use was highest in medium security institutions as demonstrated in Figure 5. As Figure 5 also illustrates, drug use showed regional variations with the highest rate of use reported by Pacific region inmates and the lowest rate reported by Prairie region inmates.

In terms of the types of drugs used, cannabis products appeared to be the most frequently used illegal drugs, followed by heroin and cocaine or crack. Fifty-nine percent of inmates believed that marijuana/hash was used often or daily, while 19% and 17% believed that heroin and crack/cocaine (respectively) were used at this level of regularity.

Undisplayed Graphic

In terms of issues relating to the control of drug distribution inside, 25% of inmates believed that inmates were "under a lot of pressure" to smuggle drugs into their institutions. About 32% of inmates believed that the urinalysis program in institutions has resulted in a slight decrease in drug use. Fifty-five percent believed that the program has had no effect and 13% felt that a large increase in drug use was associated with the introduction of the program. However, only 28% of inmates thought that inmates had switched to less detectable drugs as a consequence of the urinalysis program.

HIV Issues

Slightly more than a third of inmates (36%) felt they needed more help to protect themselves against HIV/AIDS. The rates ranged from 24% in minimum security facilities to 43% in maximum security institutions. Of those who felt they needed more help, 58% wanted information, 32% mentioned anonymous HIV testing, 25% felt they needed risk counseling, 14% needed condoms, and 34% needed bleach for sterilizing equipment. Slightly less than half of the inmates (46%) felt that they were in greater danger of contracting HIV in prison than they are when they are in the community. Sixty-four percent of CSC inmates reported that they had received HIV testing, which was the highest rate of testing reported for prison jurisdictions. Table 7 compares the rate of inmate HIV testing in other jurisdictions for which survey data were available.

Table 7

Cross-jurisdictional Comparison of Rates of HIV Testing


% of Inmates Tested for HIV

Correctional Service Canada

64.0

Federal Bureau of Prisons

58.9

Scottish Prison Service

30.0

U.S. State Inmates

51.2

CSC inmates admitted to engaging in a number of activities that placed them at risk of exposure to HIV, as Table 8 demonstrates. Most notably is the rate of injection drug use reported by inmates who participated in the survey. The 11% rate of injection drug use by CSC inmates can be compared with a rate of 5% reported by inmates in the Scottish Prison Service. In comparison to a rate of 0.7% of inmates who had unprotected sex with other inmates in the Scottish Prison Service, approximately 4% of CSC inmates reported sex without condoms. Fifty-six percent of CSC inmates reported that condoms were readily available in their institutions, 11% said that condoms were not readily available, and 32% did not know.

Table 8

HIV High Risk Behaviours Reported by CSC Inmates

High Risk Behaviours % Reporting

Injected an illegal drug since coming to the current institution

11

Injected drugs but did not know if injection equipment was safe (% of all inmates in sample)

5

Had sex with another male inmate since coming to this institution

6

Failed to use a condom while having sex with another inmate (% of all inmates in sample)

4

Had a tattoo done in prison and were unsure about the safety of equipment (% of all inmates in sample)

13

Had skin pierced and were unsure about the safety of equipment (% of all inmates in sample)

5

 

Conclusions

Some limitations of the survey should be taken into consideration in making interpretations of the current results. Although careful and systematic replacement sampling was employed, a sizable proportion of inmates (34%) who were originally selected using randomized procedures, refused to complete the questionnaire. It is possible that the survey results might be somewhat different if the responses of this refusal group were incorporated. Nevertheless, the various measures examined varied reasonably by important criterion variables such as region and security level. In addition, the demographic characteristics observed for the sample resemble the known characteristics of the CSC inmate population. Survey measures for which alternative data sources are available (e.g., inmate drug use, program participation), also suggest that the survey data have yielded reasonable findings. No survey method using self-report methodology and random sampling techniques can provide data which is 100% reliable and valid. However, the data examined in this report suggests that a good measure of confidence can be placed in the results.

Findings from the CSC Inmate Survey suggest that the exercise provided a wealth of information about diverse matters affecting the operation of federal institutions. Many of the findings were predictable in advance and provide confirmation of a number of hypothesis. While the detail supplied by the survey database could not be fully exploited here, this summary furnishes examples of a range of issues which can be explored further by combining information across a number of variables. Due to the large sample size, the survey database provides strong data for identifying particular problems and strengths of individual institutions from each security level. The sample size also provides a rich source of information for comparing institutions across the same security levels or for compiling regional profiles of inmate populations. As a first national survey of federal inmates, the inmate survey provides a baseline for comparison of results on similar issues at a later time.

 

References

Correctional Service of Canada (1996). 1995 National Inmate Survey: Final Report. Ottawa: Correctional Service Canada.

Walmsley, R,, Howard, L., White, S. (1992). The National Prison Survey 1991 Main Findings. London: HMSO.

Wolk Harlow, C. (1994). Comparing Federal and State Prison Inmates, 1991. Washington: Bureau of Justice Statitistic.

Wozniak, E. Gemmell, M., & Machin, D. (1994). Scottish Prison Service: The Second Prison Survey. Edinburgh: Prisons Research Branch, Scottish Prison Service.