CSC’s Structure - Institutional
and Community Correctional Environment
The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) is responsible for managing adult offenders, sentenced to two or more years. Offenders sentenced to less than two years and youth offenders are the responsibility of the provincial/territorial corrections system. CSC’s responsibilities include the management of offenders within institutions and the supervision of offenders on conditional release (parole) in the community.
The Commissioner of CSC is accountable to the Minister of Public Safety and is the Senior Executive Officer.
National Headquarters (NHQ) is responsible for CSC's overall planning, policy development and administration.
Five regional offices are responsible for administering the operations of correctional institutions, and the supervision of offenders on conditional release in their regional communities. The five regions are:
- Atlantic (Moncton, NB)
- Quebec (Laval, QC)
- Ontario (Kingston, ON)
- Prairies (Saskatoon, SK)
- Pacific (Abbotsford, BC)
For more detailed information on CSC’s plans and priorities, you may wish to visit the 2009-2010 Report on Plans and Priorities on the Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada website.
As of 2008, CSC had a total staff complement of 15,400 (indeterminate employees). Some 85% of staff work in institutions and communities; of these, about 41% are correctional officers. Another 15% of staff are in the Welfare Programmes category, the group that includes parole and program officers who work in the institutions and in the community. The remainder of CSC’s workforce reflects a variety of other skills required to operate institutions and community offices as well as staff providing corporate and administrative functions at the local, regional and national levels.
In 2007/08, the total expenditures for CSC were $2.1 billion comprising $1.3 billion in salaries and contributions to employment benefit plan, $0.6 billion in general operating expenses and $0.2 billion in capital allocations. In 2007/08, the average annual cost of keeping a federally sentenced male offender incarcerated was $99,205. For women inmates, the cost is higher, $182,506 due to the legal requirement to provide comparable and equitable facilities and services to a relatively small number of incarcerated women offenders. It costs substantially less to maintain an offender in the community than to keep that individual incarcerated ($24,825 per year versus $101,666 per year).
The Institutional and Community Correctional Environments
Institutions are classified as maximum, medium, minimum or multi-level security facilities. These ratings dictate behavioural norms that define expected behaviour for inmates at each security level. They also determine the degree of control required to maintain the good order of the institution and to protect staff, inmates and the public.
CSC is responsible for 57 institutions and 84 parole offices and sub-offices in Canada. Out of the 57, five are regional mental health facilities, five are regional women’s institutions, and five are designated aboriginal facilities.
Maximum Security Institutions
Offenders who pose a serious risk to the community, staff, and other offenders are housed in maximum security institutions. The perimeter is well defined, highly secure and highly controlled. The movement of offenders is strictly regulated and supervised.
Medium Security Institutions
Offenders who are considered a risk to the safety of the community are housed in these institutions. The perimeter is well defined, secure and controlled. Inmate movement and association are regulated and supervised.
Minimum Security Institutions
Offenders who pose a low risk to the safety of the community are housed in these institutions. The perimeter is defined but not directly controlled. Freedom of movement, association and privileges are moderately restricted. A minimum security institution is often the offender’s last stop before re-entering the community.
Offenders with varying security classifications are housed in separate, secure areas of the institution.
Regional Psychiatric Centres
The needs of male offenders requiring in-patient treatment beds are primarily met through the regional treatment/psychiatric centres. For women offenders with significant mental health needs, separate units have been established at each of the women’s facilities. These units have the provision of a higher level of staffing and program intervention.
* May vary from region to region
*May vary between Women’s Institutions and Healing Lodges
There are 84 parole offices and sub-offices, grouped into 32 area offices within eight districts. Each office has parole officers responsible for supervising conditionally released offenders in the community.
Community Correctional Centres (CCCs)
CSC has 16 community correctional centres across Canada, which are designated as minimum-security institutions. Offenders on day parole or other forms of conditional release are housed in these facilities. Each centre has a director, support staff, parole officers, and program officers who work together to supervise and provide programs for offenders to prepare them for full parole or statutory release.
Community-based Residential Facilities (halfway houses)
There are 175 of these facilities across Canada, providing accommodation, 24 hour supervision, counselling and programming to help offenders reintegrate successfully into the community. These halfway houses are operated by non-profit agencies or private corporations contracted by CSC.
CORCAN is a special operating agency of CSC mandated to provide employability skills training and employment to offenders in federal institutions and employment assistance after offenders are released into the community.
CORCAN operates in 31 federal institutions and employs close to 4,000 offenders yearly in a variety of business lines, including manufacturing, construction, textiles and services. On any given day, approximately 15% of the total offender population is working and learning in CORCAN shops.
Working conditions are deliberately structured to replicate the private sector work environment so that offenders can acquire the skills and behaviours they will need to find and keep work once they are released from an institution. Offender employees produce a range of products and services that are marketed to the public and not-for-profit sectors in Canada.
CORCAN is also responsible for all inmate work programs in federal institutions and offers employment placement services in 53 community employment placement centres across Canada where, each year, over 1,000 offenders are helped to find jobs in various fields.
In addition, these employment centres deliver a variety of job counselling services, including career counselling, internet job search, resume and letter preparation and mock interview sessions to over 3,000 offenders who have been released from prison and are in the community.
Roles of Front-line Staff
Correctional officers supervise, monitor and control the movement of the offenders within an institution, and provide perimeter security. They:
- are responsible for the day-to-day maintenance of security within each institution.
- act as escorts when offenders are taken outside the institution for administrative reasons (e.g., court appearances, medical treatment).
Correctional officers must have a good working knowledge of corrections, criminal behaviour and intervention techniques. They must also be able to identify and diffuse any situation that could escalate into a more serious incident.
In addition to ensuring dynamic security, correctional officers must also encourage and support offenders throughout the day as they work to change criminal beliefs, attitudes and behaviours. They are directly involved in working with offenders from the time they enter a correctional institution until they are released. This ongoing interaction gives correctional officers an in-depth knowledge of offender behaviours and progress. This knowledge is essential for maintaining security within the institution and in helping prepare the offender for a successful return to society.
Correctional officers work as a team with other institutional staff to assess offenders' progress and make recommendations for parole.
Front-line staff in women's facilities are called primary workers. In addition to traditional correctional officer duties, primary worker duties include case management and program support.
Primary workers have experience working with women and/or individuals who are sensitive towards women's issues and have knowledge of the philosophy outlined in Creating Choices (the 1990 Task Force Report on Federally Sentenced Women). In addition to participating in standard correctional training, they must also attend women-centred training.
Women-centred training addresses issues such as sexism, sexual orientation, racism, Aboriginal traditions and spirituality, physical and/or sexual abuse, self-injuries and suicidal behaviour, addictions, and mental health.
Correctional Program Officers
The main responsibility of the Correctional Program Officers is to deliver multi-level intensity correctional programs to federally incarcerated or conditionally released offenders to reduce the likelihood of re-offending.
Offenders are assigned to a correctional program based on their Correctional Plan and on established Correctional Program selection criteria. Pre-program interviews and assessment batteries are conducted by Correctional Program Officers helping to determine specific programming expectations.
Correctional Program Officers analyze and interpret test results and prepare detailed reports based on assessments and targets of intervention. They provide expert advice for the development and revision of correctional plans taking into account the needs of offenders and the appropriate programs required to reduce risk. They finally provide direct counselling and group intervention to offenders, trying to motivate and encourage them to participate in programs and change their behaviour.
Correctional Program Officers are trained and certified to deliver worldwide recognised correctional programs. All correctional programs offered within CSC, whether they are owned or contracted, must be accredited. This training and certification process requires conforming to stringent quality assurance procedures to ensure compliance to national standards and accreditation requirements for effective program delivery. CSC’s accreditation process has two distinct but inter-releated components:
- Program accreditation involves the assessment of the quality of the program design, including elements such as staff training and support, provisions for after program learning supports and evaluation and research plans;
- Site accreditation involves the assessment of the quality of delivery of the program, including adherence to the design, adequacy of management support and linkages to the overall management of the offender’s case.
A parole officer must have the ability to accurately assess and manage offenders. Whether working within an institution or in the community, they are essential to the successful reintegration of an offender into the community.
Parole officers assess the offender with other CSC staff to develop and administer a correctional plan of program and treatment options that address the offender's anti-social behaviour.(See Section 5: Overview of the Management of Offenders, for more details on the correctional plan.)
In addition to supervising offenders on conditional release, providing support and monitoring offender behaviour, community-based parole officers help to introduce offenders to counselling, education programs, substance abuse programs, and job-training opportunities.
Parole officers also use regular meetings with offenders and information gathered from people in the offender's circle of friends, family and acquaintances to assess the degree of risk the offender poses to the community and adjusts the supervision plan accordingly.
With over 250 on staff, CSC is Canada’s largest employer of psychologists. Staff or contracted psychologists work in most of CSC’s institutions and community settings providing a wide range of services.
Psychologists play a number of important roles within CSC, including:
- the provision of mental health services to offenders (assessment and treatment of mental disorders and behaviour problems);
- the preparation of assessments to assist the case management and reintegration process (including intake risk assessment, important for the development of Correctional Plans, and pre-parole assessment of offenders’ risk of re-offending);
- the delivery of high-intensity programs (such as violence prevention and sex offender treatment); and
Nurses in CSC facilities work as members of the multidisciplinary team. However, as the front-line of health services for inmates, they work with less direction in institutions than they do in a community hospital or ambulatory setting. Nurses must be able and willing to accept this level of autonomy in a setting that requires constant use of their expert judgment and clinical assessment skills. They must also have a strong interest in health promotion and infection control.
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees offenders the right to practice their religion while incarcerated. Under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, CSC is required to provide inmates with the necessities related to their religious or spiritual practices.
CSC contracts with various faith groups for the services of institutional chaplains in consultation with the Interfaith Committee on Chaplaincy (IFC). There is a Memorandum of Understanding between the representative faith communities (through the IFC) and the CSC which describes the following elements of chaplaincy:
- Chaplains are based within the Institution or in the community
- Due to the large number of Christian offenders, most institutions offer both Protestant and Catholic chaplaincy services
- Services for other religious traditions are provided through part-time contracts or appointed volunteers.
Community and institutional chaplains work together to build relationships with offenders prior to their release. They also work with the local parole office to coordinate supervision plans.
Community chaplains have a dual role in that they work with ex-offenders to help them reintegrate and also minister to the wider community to help it receive and welcome ex-offenders.
For more information on chaplains you may wish to visit the Chaplaincy Services Web page.
Social Programs Officer
Social Programs Officers are responsible for planning, coordinating and facilitating activities related to all cultural, recreational and artistic pursuits as well as social programs in institutions. These activities are used to help offenders develop and practice the social skills necessary to successfully reintegrate back into the community and introduce them to pro-social lifestyles.
During these social activities, offenders are placed in a variety of situations that provide an opportunity to put into practice the various skills learned in correctional programs. If an offender is not acting appropriately, the Social Programs Officer can intervene directly with the offender to point out the problem with their behaviour/reaction.
Teachers are responsible for the delivery of education services to offenders in the institutions. Their duties include the assessment of education level, file reviews for objectives to attain CSC standards for educational attainment and the delivery of provincially accredited curriculum. The education departments across the country vary depending on the current management structure of the region, but a combination of staff and contract teachers are utilized in the delivery of education services.
Aboriginal Liaison Officer
Aboriginal Liaison Officers (ALO) provide leadership, teaching, cultural awareness, counselling and general services to Aboriginal offenders. They also provide a mechanism for advancing the cultural and spiritual needs of Aboriginal offenders through the sensitization of case management and the correctional program processes. ALOs participate as active members of the case management team and are a link to the Aboriginal Community.
Aboriginal Community Development Officers
Aboriginal Community Development Officers (ACDO) provides leadership, teaching and awareness of the CSC processes to Aboriginal communities. ACDOs assist in the reintegration of Aboriginal offenders to Aboriginal Communities. The ACDO does this by acting as a bridge between CSC and the Aboriginal communities/organizations and facilitating the Section 84 process.
Federal Offender Population Profile3
The offender population continues to change, presenting significant security and reintegration challenges for CSC. In recent years, the offender population has been increasingly characterized by offenders with extensive histories of violence and violent crimes, previous youth and adult convictions, affiliations with gangs and organized crimes, serious substance abuse histories and problems, serious mental health disorders, higher rates of infection with Hepatitis C and HIV and a disproportionate representation of Aboriginal people.
The total federal offender population as of 2008 was 22,016. A total of 5,007 offenders were admitted to facilities in the federal correctional system last year. Following consecutive decreases in the federal incarcerated offender population from 1997-2004, there were small increases in each of the last three years. Presently about 60% of offenders are incarcerated and 40% are under some type of supervision in the community.
A review of data in 2008 showed that the average length of sentence of offenders admitted to a federal institution had stabilized at a term of 38.4 months. Older offenders (50 years or more) represent 19.2% of the inmate population and 95% are men and 17% of offenders are Aboriginal.
Among other things, between 1997 and 2005 changes to the offender population profile have included:
- More extensive histories of involvement with the court system- roughly 9 out of 10 offenders now have previous criminal convictions;
- More extensive histories of violence and violent offences, with far more assessed as violence-prone, hostile, impulsive and aggressive on admission;
- An increase of more than 100% in the proportion of offenders who are classified as maximum security on admission- 13% are now classified at this level on admission;
- An increase of 33% in the proportion of offenders with gang and/or organized crime affiliations- one in six men and one in ten women offenders, now have known affiliations;
- An increase of 14% in the proportion of offenders serving sentences for homicide- it now stands at more than one in four male offenders;
- An increase of 71% in the percentage of male offenders and 100% increase in women offenders identified at admission as having very serious mental health problems - 12% of male and 25% of women offenders are now so identified; and
- An increasing prevalence of learning disabilities as well as offenders with low functioning capacities.
1 Data provided by the CSC Reports on Plans and Priorities 2009-2010
2 Data provided by the Public Safety Canada Corrections and Conditional Release Statistical Overview 2009
3 Data provided by the CSC Departmental Performance Report 2006-2007 and from Performance Assurance as of June 2008