Report of the Task Force on Security

5.4 Learning

5.4.1. Our History

We believe that the correctional environment of the future must be one in which learning is of the highest priority. A culture that seeks to continually gain knowledge and master skills through study and experience is one that promotes dignity and self-respect. Managers who serve as teachers and mentors should be highly valued in such an organization.

A learning organization understands where it has been, where it is presently, and where it is going in the future. The book "Our Story" serves as a starting point for understanding our history. However, we believe that our history in the context of the Justice System must be captured in such a way that the development of corrections is seen in the context of our heritage as a Canadian people. Capturing our history properly will serve to assist us in recruiting the kinds of staff we value most and will enable us to introduce new staff to the Service in meaningful, new ways.

  • Recommendation:That the history of CSC in the context of the justice system in Canada be documented and used in recruitment and training.

5.4.2. Career Progression

In many of the countries that the Task Force visited, career development and career progression were well defined and understood. For the most part, in order to move ahead with one's career, it was necessary to do well at the present level, study and pass exams to pre-qualify for the next level and pass through an interview process before being appointed to the next level. We applaud the work of Israel and the United Kingdom in this regard.

It is necessary that CSC adopt an integrated and comprehensive Human Resource strategy to support the implementation of Task Force recommendations. The key components of such a strategy must include:

  • The development of competency profiles for all positions.
  • An expanded and revitalized recruitment program in partnership with other agencies in the Criminal Justice System.
  • An induction training program that includes On the Job Training and a probation evaluation that measures commitment to organizational values and ethics.
  • Pre-qualification processes at each level prior to promotion.
  • Coaching, mentoring, and evaluation processes for all positions at all levels, including certification and a link to training requirements.
  • The development of enriched incentives for staff that will support staff mobility.
  • Continued monitoring of staff retention rates.
  • Benchmarking of lessons learned from the facilities for Federally Sentenced Women and Aboriginal offenders, ensuring that induction training and refresher training are used to increase staff awareness.
  • The vigorous pursuit of partnerships in Corrections internationally, nationally (both federally and provincially), with other agencies and departments, and with the community.
  • Applied research into security issues such as organized crime, gangs, threat risk indicators, technologies, and sub-cultures.
  • Recommendation: That CSC develop and implement objective tools to measure staff attributes and leadership potential.
  • Recommendation:That CSC develop a selection process that ensures the hiring of staff who possess all of the core competencies necessary to work in a correctional environment.
  • Recommendation:That those staff who possess the required attributes and leadership potential be invited to attend pre-qualifying leadership training and that upon successful completion of that training, these staff are encouraged to enter competitions for promotion.

5.4.3. General Orientation to Security Procedures

The responsibility for security in correctional facilities is a shared one. It does not rest solely with Correctional Officers. Having said this, it is a reality that tensions do exist over this issue between Correctional Officers and other staff. These tensions exist in part because security policy does not explicitly require that security practices and procedures be a shared responsibility of all staff and in part because CSC does not train non-security staff in such procedures as frisking, searching, observation and reporting, or tool and key control. Some of these practices are learned on the job by some staff. The Task Force believes that this situation should be rectified on an urgent basis.

  • Recommendation:That security policy explicitly state that security is the responsibility of all staff.
  • Recommendation:That all staff receive training in security practices and procedures.

We do believe that the Career Management Model is a good one and we support its full implementation. There are, however, deficiencies in the program that must be addressed. For instance, scenarios must be continually updated and changed in order to prevent unfair advantage to those who have participated before. Our staff need to know that the modules are current and that there are rewards for passing those modules.

Our perception is that the entire Career Management process needs to be revitalized and that management must commit fully to the process.

The Task Force also strongly urges that CO2 training must be re-evaluated with a view to developing a comprehensive standardized program. This training must focus on the following broad areas: security skills (searching, self-defense, observation and reporting), problem solving (CAPRA and Use of Force), interpersonal skills (conflict resolution, coaching, ethics, Restorative Justice) and the case management process.

  • Recommendation:That CO2 training focus on security skills, problem solving, interpersonal skills, and the case management process.

5.4.4. Aboriginal Issues

CSC has benefited greatly from the contributions made by Aboriginal people to the correctional process. We have witnessed in recent years the introduction of Elders and Native Liaison Officers to the institutional environment. Their teachings have made powerful impacts on Aboriginal offenders. Elders have brought Aboriginal spirituality to light for the first time in the lives of many inmates. Similarly, we have seen the cultural influence of Aboriginal ways introduced to our institutions. Medicine bags, dancing, talking circles, pow wows, sweatlodges, healing circles, and NPB hearing circles are just a few of the contributions made thus far.

This has provided CSC with tremendous opportunities for learning. Operational routines have had to be modified to accommodate these cultural imperatives. There have been challenges in training staff. Staff members at all levels experienced significant learning curves as they met these challenges.

CSC has undertaken to recruit Aboriginal staff members in a wide variety of positions across the Service. There have been varied degrees of success in meeting these objectives and there continues to be challenges in this area.

A recent phenomenon has been the emerging of Aboriginal gangs in the community. These gangs have impacted significantly on the Justice system, affecting police forces, provincial and federal institutions. The Task Force has commented more fully on the issue of gangs earlier in this report.

The Task Force also recognizes that the healing focus of Aboriginal centers such as Okimaw Ochi and Pê Sâkâstêw has had a profound effect on the way in which correctional services are extended to Aboriginal offenders. There is no question that healing, spirituality and learning traditional ways is beneficial to offenders who are ready to accept these teachings.

  • Recommendation:That staff colleges incorporate Aboriginal components to the induction program for all new staff.

5.4.5. Facilities for Federally Sentenced Women

CSC has enjoyed remarkable success in the management of facilities for federally sentenced women. The design of these facilities has demonstrated the viability of the multi-level concept being proposed by this Task Force. Further, inmates are housed in small units that mirror community standards. Again, this is consistent with the Task Force recommendations for housing male offenders.

The Task Force also notes that the role of Primary Workers in these facilities closely approximates our vision of the role we are proposing for CO2's in male institutions. Primary Workers develop relationships with offenders that are highly constructive and professional. The FSW facilities have been successful in recruiting and training staff members who possess the characteristics and values that are complementary to our Mission.

  • Recommendation:That CSC utilize the lessons learned from Federally Sentenced Women facilities in the development of plans for multi-level facilities for men.

The Task Force also wishes to comment on the importance that it places on including staff in the FSW's facilities as an integral part of the organization. The training and development needs of primary workers should be reflected in national training plans as a matter of course. As well, core competencies, recruitment, selection, and training strategies must reflect the requirements of the facilities for Federally Sentenced Women.

  • Recommendation:That CSC's national recruitment strategies, and training and development plans routinely incorporate the requirements of the FSW facilities.

5.4.6. Qualification Standards and Continuous Learning

The Task Force recognized a need for qualifying standards to be established for many of its training programs. Many post secondary institutions allow students to challenge exams without having taken particular courses. It is our view that in CSC we sometimes commit inordinate amounts of time to training people to do things they already know how to do. Our training programs need to have well established standards so that we can test our staff to see if they meet those standards. We also believe that if standards are firmly established, educational equivalencies become a more viable option. In other words equivalency exams can then be recognized in place of training and educational requirements. These issues need to be more fully explored by the Learning and Development Committee.

We also recognize that we need to develop the capacity to train people when they need it. The process of encouraging staff to move upward is sometimes hampered by delays in training and delays in competition. We urge that continuous entry training programs be developed in order that we may have readily trained and qualified staff to fill positions when needed.

  • Recommendation:That the Learning and Development Committee actively pursue continuous entry training programs and equivalency testing in order to facilitate both the training of new recruits and the recognition of previously obtained qualifications.

5.4.7. Recruitment and Selection

The ability to select staff who possess the necessary qualities for work in the corrections has been particularly challenging for CSC. In recent years, there have been obstacles to this process that have been unintended and quite difficult to overcome. For instance, the competition from police forces has been to our detriment. The salary for Correctional Officers has fallen behind. We have not been successful in portraying work in corrections in a way that is appealing and again the police forces are more successful in this regard. We also introduced the casual program with a view to reducing overtime consumption in the service. We have since discovered that many people will not enter our profession because they want full time employment and not the part time provisions of the Casual program.

In some respects CSC is improving in its recruitment strategy. We are more careful now to ensure that the people who recruit and select new staff are people who possess the qualities we are looking for. We have introduced selection tools that have assisted us greatly in our evaluation of new candidates. The processes of recruitment and selection are vital to the well being of our organization. Our Task Force suggests though that the distinctions between the two are not clear and that because of this we fail to attract as many qualified candidates as possible. In our view recruitment is the process of attracting as many applications as possible from qualified candidates. We need tools to do this. Selection is the process of choosing from among the many who apply, those who will be tested and interviewed. We think that if we have the right tools for both processes and if we are fully committed to hiring the best candidates consistently then our culture in corrections will significantly improve over time.

We also wish to comment on the importance of mirroring among our staff the respective offender populations and cultural values. This reflects the need to ensure that we treat both offenders and staff uniquely based upon their individual needs.

Finally, in this area we strongly believe that the issue of staff mobility must be addressed. It is necessary that healthy staff cultures be encouraged by having the ability to transfer staff members between institutions, regions and offices. This requires that incentives be reviewed so that staff members see themselves as being valued in the process.

  • Recommendation: That CSC develop incentives in support of the transfer and relocation of staff members.
  • Recommendation:That CSC develop proactive and visible recruitment strategies utilizing state of the art tools with a view to significantly increasing the number of applicants to the Service.
  • Recommendation:That CSC develop recruitment strategies that meet both Employment Equity targets and the targets associated with CSC's requirements for minority group representation based on the needs of incarcerated offenders.

5.4.8. Staff Retention

Valuing our staff in such a way that they wish to remain in corrections is an important component of the staffing process. We have a concern that staff members may be leaving our organization prematurely but we have no data to confirm our suspicions. We do know that it is not cost effective to hire and train new staff only to lose them within two or three years. We would also make the point that we should not be encouraging senior staff to retire early. We believe that senior staff offer us wisdom and experience that is hard to replace. We believe that these staff members could play a significant and meaningful role as teachers (in staff colleges, for example), as mentors, and advisors, if they were truly valued and encouraged to stay.

  • Recommendation:That a longitudinal study of retention rates for new staff and projected retirement rates for senior staff be undertaken and that strategies be developed to retain staff in the Service for longer periods of time.

"We under-estimate the amount of time that must be devoted by supervisors to bring on new staff effectively."

- Trevor Williams

5.4.9. Induction Training

We recognize that other committees are addressing this issue. We will therefore make only a few, brief comments. It is our view that the standards associated with induction training should be of such a quality that they are recognized as transfer courses by other teaching institutions. Secondly, induction training should have an experiential component. We think that experiential learning is essential in corrections. We also think that the issue of standards could be more easily addressed if we had only one or two colleges to train new staff. Perhaps these colleges could be located in older prisons that have been closed in terms of housing inmates. In this manner, the theory learned, can be practiced in a prison like (simulated) environment. The Task Force was singularly impressed with the induction training programs made available to staff in such countries as Israel and England. We saw induction programs that were a year in duration and were based on core competencies, a mix of classroom theory and on the job training and a requirement for qualification through graded exams. It goes without saying that instructors in our colleges must be well qualified to teach and must have the requisite commitment to organizational values before they are asked to fill this role. We strongly urge that CSC form alliances in training with other partners in the Criminal Justice System as well as with accredited colleges (AUCC).

  • Recommendation:That CSC develop national core competencies for all security practices and procedures and ensure that training will address those competencies and that security training combine classroom theory with the provision for practicing skills in a prison like environment.
  • Recommendation: That CSC's Induction training program be reviewed with a view to:
    1. Centralizing training in one or two locations.
    2. Incorporating classroom theory with on the job training.
    3. Ensuring that a one year period of mentoring following appointment is completed with a thorough values assessment at the end of that period.

We refer the reader to the report of the Staff Recruitment, Training, Promotion and Retention committee for more detailed recommendations in this area.

5.4.10. Specialized Training for Female Staff Members

The Task force identified a need for training associated with the particular needs of female staff members, particularly where those staff members are working with male offenders. These staff members may be regarded as targets for hostage taking and/or sexual assault by some offenders. The first line of defense for these staff members is awareness. Training should address skills in observation, body language, response to inappropriate or suggestive behaviour, hostage behaviour, as well as the traditional training in self-defense.

  • Recommendation:That CSC develop training programs specifically related to the needs of female staff members who work with male offenders.

5.4.11. Communicating

Failure to communicate information accurately and in a timely fashion directly impacts on the safety of staff and inmates. Doing this well in an organization as large and complex as CSC is particularly challenging. CSC has committed enormous resources to systems intended to communicate well. At the national level we have developed computer systems that contain massive amounts of information, information about law and policies, file information about inmates, research data, security reports, financial management information, and information from other government departments. These national systems are exemplary and as a Service we should be proud of them. The challenge for CSC is to maintain an information system that is user friendly and not fraught with continual changes. The challenge is not an easy one in an era that is deluged with new technologies in the computer industry. We need to be very systematic in our approach to the management of changes in communication and information systems. We strongly endorse a centralized approach to this with NHQ and the Regions maintaining a well co-ordinated and tightly controlled management function. There are obvious security concerns with the management of computerized information and the need, again, is to ensure that policy and practice are well coordinated and managed.

I wasn't sure what to expect out of this consultation with staff... but I like it... you should do more of it... line staff have important things to say about how things need to be made more respectful. We all need more training in this area too.

- CSC line staff at William Head consultation

5.4.12. Research in Security

Research conducted by CSC can enhance and improve the way the organization carries out its legislative mandate. While security-related research in corrections is integral to the goal of contributing to public, staff, and offender protection, it must have practical applications that can be translated into action. Hence, there is a strong emphasis on applied security research related to policy, programming, and management issues.

The majority of security related research initiatives can be conceptualized along a continuum of offender management. This applied research strives to improve the way information is gathered on offenders at admission, to help staff use this information to make appropriate decisions about level of custody/supervision and which programs or treatments are needed; to design and develop institutional and community programs/environments critical to changing criminal behaviour; to monitor which types of offenders benefit from which types of programs; and to examine which supervision strategies delivered by correctional staff are best suited to particular types of offenders.

Other security-related research objectives focus on staff (e.g. values), knowledge creation (e.g. corrections culture, Restorative Justice) and population management issues (e.g. gangs) which all have as their bottom line a goal to continuously improve the safe reintegration of offenders into the community as law-abiding citizens while exercising safe, secure, humane control.

With the introduction of the Mission, CSC began a determined effort to develop new, improved offender assessment technology and deliver programs which would contribute to the safe reintegration of offenders. New offender assessment and program methods are based on research evidence suggesting the most effective techniques and the selection of appropriate candidates. Assessment and program content specifically address risk factors linked to both institutional adjustment and post-release performance.

Applied research has been critical to the design, development and delivery of "state of the art" offender assessment technology in the Service. Automated offender assessment systems based on sound theory and research have been implemented Service wide. Today, the Service knows more about what each offender was like before they entered prison, what challenges they face upon release and thereafter while they are under supervision. This case-based information provides a scientific foundation for determining each offender's institutional placement and establishing his/her correctional plan.

The Service's ability to assess and re-assess the offender population in a comprehensive, integrated and systematic fashion has high value for corrections. The Service can forecast the growth of its offender population, monitor changes in composition, improve risk management procedures and measure correctional performance. Such reintegration potential profiling technology can also improve discretionary release rates by systematically identifying lower risk inmates earlier in their sentences, thereby reducing the costs of incarceration and providing a more humane response to offenders.

Corrections research has made considerable gains in developing effective reintegration programming, devising tools for the identification of those offenders most likely to benefit from specific types of programs and monitoring progress of offenders who have participated in correctional programming. Research has shown that delivering appropriate correctional programs makes a significant contribution to stable institutions and safe reintegration.

Currently much of the security related research in corrections being requested is highly diverse and information sensitive. Increasingly, the demands for operational and policy relevant research in corrections requires the integration of a wide range of related social, psychological, socio-economic, crime, demographic and corrections performance data. Work has already begun to acquire or create integrated time series data on staff and offender characteristics, institutional adjustment measures (such as incidents, use of segregation, grievances) and post-release performance indices (such as recidivism) which are suitable for use in a broad range of correctional research activities, including offender/staff profiling, forecasting, impact analysis, and long term strategic planning. Most correctional agencies in the future will likely see this activity being given greater emphasis. Well performing correctional systems like the Correctional Service of Canada will have at their disposal a team of researchers or corrections knowledge workers ready to attack and solve a range of security related problems on any given day.

We foresee a vision for Canada in providing leadership in the international community in the area of security based research. In fact, Canada has the opportunity to become a world leader in this area. We see a role for CSC in providing leadership in security programs, practices and technologies.

  • Recommendation:That CSC establish a formalized approach to research in security programs, practices and technologies.