ARCHIVED - Presentation to the Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology: Mental Health, Mental Illness and Addiction
June 7, 2005

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The function of the Office of the Correctional Investigator

Section 167 (1) of the CCRA,

  • "to conduct investigations into the problems of offenders related to decisions, recommendations, acts or omissions of the Commissioner of Corrections or any person under the control and management of, or on behalf of, the Commissioner, that affect offenders either individually or as a group".


Our mandate is to objectively determine if Correctional Service's decision, recommendation, act or omission:

  • fully complied with the CCRA and current policies
  • was fair, equitable and reasonable

Corrections and Conditional Release Act:

Correctional Service shall provide every inmate with:

  1. Essential health care and;
  2. Reasonable access to non-essential mental health care that will contribute to the inmate's rehabilitation and successful reintegration into the community.

Prevalence of mental disorders

Since 1997, an increase of mental disorders:

  • 57% in male offenders
  • 65% in female offenders

Almost 80% increase in admissions who were on prescribed medication.

Overall, 14% of offenders had recent psychiatric or psychological treatment.

Upon admission in a federal correctional institution

Factors assessed at Intake are limited to:

  • Mental ability/functioning
  • Diagnosis of mental disorder
  • Prescribed medication
  • Psychiatric hospitalization/outpatient services

Access to Mental Health for Federal Offenders

Current mental health assessments:

  • Immediate risk
  • Need for medication
  • In-patient treatment

Offenders who are or present:

  • Intellectually challenged
  • Behavioural problems
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Adult ADHD
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum

These offenders:

  • Are unable to complete regular programs
  • Are preyed upon by other offenders
  • End up in segregation
  • Have limited coping skills
  • Are usually classified as maximum security

Security incidents involving inmate injuries

For the past fiscal year of 2004-2005:

  • 280 self-inflicted injuries
  • 9 attempted suicides
  • 10 suicides

Prevalence of Infectious Diseases

In federal institutions (2002):

  • HIV is 7 to 10 times higher
  • Hepatitis C is 30 times higher

Than the general Canadian population

Pilot Project - Pacific Region

Between December 2003-May 2004: 259 admissions

  • 190 offenders (68%) had no mental disorder (substance abuse not considered)
  • 28 offenders or 10% were excluded due to limited time left to their sentence or refused to participate
  • 68 (26% of the sample) and (29% of those assessed) had immediate mental health needs, cognitive impairment or required medication management or further assessment

Health Care Needs Assessment for Federal Inmates in Canada

  • Inmate mental health disorders are several times that of the Canadian population
  • No standardized, systematic assessment of mental health needs of offenders
  • The need for a comprehensive strategy for the detection and management

Mental Health Strategy

  • Comprehensive clinical intake assessment
  • National requirements for treatment centres
  • Intermediate mental health care units within existing institutions
  • Community mental health to support offenders on release

Canadian Human Rights Commission

"No matter how good a strategy may be on paper in responding to the needs of federally sentenced women, it is unlikely that Correctional Service will be able to protect human rights without enough resources applied appropriately in carrying out the strategy"