36th Annual Report to Parliament
2008-2009
Areas of Key Concern and Recommendations

Areas of Key Concern

  1. Mental Health
  2. Self-Harm in Prisons
  3. Health Services
  4. Correctional Programs/Case Preparation
  5. Deaths in Custody
  6. Aboriginal Offenders
  7. Federally Sentenced Women
  8. Gaps in Dynamic Security
  9. Segregation

1. Mental Health

Analysis

  • Mental health care delivery and related services and supports are the "most serious and pressing issues" facing the Service today.
  • System is facing serious capacity, accessibility and quality of care challenges — problem is one of both focus and priority.
  • Pervasive use of segregation and isolation to manage mentally disordered offenders is not safe or humane (re: Ashley Smith).

Recommendations

  1. Bolster recruitment and hiring of MH professionals, give priority to under-serviced institutions and establish permanent professional recruiting and training budgets.
  2. Implement "intermediate" mental health care units in each region.
  3. Develop and implement case management plans for acute MH cases managed by inter-disciplinary teams.

2. Self-Harm in Prisons

Analysis

  • Incidents of self-harm in prison are rising.
  • Self-harm needs to be treated as a mental health issue, not a security or behavioural problem (re: Ashley Smith).
  • NHQ's role of "support and assistance" not sufficient — national oversight, accountability and monitoring are lacking.

Recommendations

  1. Develop national strategy/protocol for managing chronic self-harming, with clear lines of national, regional and local accountability.
  2. Put in place clinical management plans (prevention, intervention and treatment) to manage chronic self-harmers.
  3. Inventory "best practices" (treatment and prevention) and distribute throughout the Service.
  4. Create dedicated units in each region to manage chronic cases.

3. Health Services

Analysis

  • CSC is moving toward a centrally managed health care system (National Essential Health Services Framework).
  • Questions surround the weighting of the criteria — cost, safety, efficacy — as well as transparency and independence of an internal process used to decide what is deemed an "essential" treatment, diagnostic or service.
  • Health care remains the most grieved area of inmate concern — offenders have very little choice over who attends to their needs, how care is administered or what services/medications are defined as "essential."

Recommendation

  • Submit the National Essential Health Services Framework to an independent and external peer review process to be empowered to report on the Service's implementation of the Framework over next 3 years.

4. Programs/Case Preparation

Analysis

  • Long wait lists, lack of program availability and restricted accessibility, especially at higher security levels, remain obstacles in safe and timely reintegration.
  • Service allocates only 2% of total budget to offender programming.
  • The system is becoming more risk-averse — day and full parole release rates at lowest levels in a decade; statutory releases account for majority of all release types; minimum security facilities operating under-capacity.

Recommendations

  1. Service needs to make improvements in the following areas: reduce program wait lists; increase use of temporary absences; increase access to programs at maximum security institutions; increase program interventions for special needs offenders and; improve inmate understanding of the parole review process.
  2. Review the rationale, criteria and average waiting time for psychological assessments required for security classifications of offenders serving life and indeterminate sentences.

5. Deaths in Custody

  • The Office will review the Service's progress in this area on a quarterly basis. On August 14, 2009, CSC posted its response to our Deaths in Custody Study and Ashley Smith report (A Preventable Death). Key accountability recommendations have been rejected.
  • Significant improvement required in other areas: staff training, use of segregation, dynamic security and clinical interventions.
  • More forward movement on the development of a national mental health strategy for corrections, a recommendation from A Preventable Death directed at the Minister of Public Safety, would also be welcomed.
  • In light of above, the AR contains no deaths in custody recommendations; however, the Office is actively reviewing two deaths in custody cases which again call into question CSC's capacity to respond to medical emergencies in a timely and appropriate manner.

6. Aboriginal Offenders

Analysis

  • The gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal offenders is widening: Aboriginal rates of incarceration are 9 times the national average; one-in-five offenders is of Aboriginal ancestry; 33% of the women offender population is Aboriginal.
  • Governance of and accountability for Aboriginal issues within Service requires dedicated, sustained and focused leadership.
  • OCI intends to issue a progress report on federal Aboriginal corrections initiatives during fiscal year 2009-10.

Recommendation

  • The Minister should direct that CSC immediately appoint a Deputy Commissioner for Aboriginal Corrections.

7. Federally Sentenced Women

Analysis

  • Service continues to refuse to give the Deputy Commissioner for Women full and direct line authority for all matters affecting FSW.
  • There has been little movement on the main FSW challenges: lack of adequate programming; insufficient mental health services; over-classification of Aboriginal offenders; lack of reintegration options; management of chronic self-harmers.
  • The Management Protocol for Women is a harsh and punitive response to manage a handful of particularly high-needs/risk women offenders. It raises issues of systemic discrimination, follows a deprivation/isolation vs. treatment/intervention model and sets unrealistic standards of behaviour that can only promote failure.

Recommendations

  1. Deputy Commissioner for Women should have full and direct line authority for all matters concerning FSW.
  2. The Management Protocol for women offenders should be immediately rescinded.
  3. Clinical management plans for high-needs and high-risk women should be immediately completed and implemented.

8. Gaps in Dynamic Security

Analysis

  • The physical conditions of confinement at the higher security levels have been hardened considerably: cell confinement, lock-downs, restrictions on association and movement, exercise "pods" instead of common yards.
  • Static security measures — electronically controlled barriers, 24/7 camera surveillance, dogs, ion scanners, control posts — have proliferated, increasing the separation between the "keeper" and the "kept."
  • Measures do not necessarily make for safer or more humane corrections.

Recommendations

  1. CSC should strengthen its dynamic security training for all new recruits and refresher training for existing staff; ensure every inmate is seen and engaged on a regular basis, and; ensure regular rounds and counts are verified/conducted according to policy.
  2. Conduct an internal audit of maximum security facilities to ensure the regime conforms to the "least restrictive" principle focusing on access to yard and recreation, visits, programs, outdoor exercise, association and movement.
  3. Display of a firearm should continue to be considered a reportable use of force.

9. Segregation "By Any Other Name"

Analysis

  • The Service is operating a series of ranges/units that amount to segregation "by any other name." Typically, these units lack procedural and legal safeguards.
  • Considered "alternatives" to segregation, these facilities are being used to house the mentally disordered, the non-compliant and other particularly challenging offenders/groups.
  • Although temporary and "transitional" in nature, they have become permanent features, typically offering a limited regime of "earned" privileges and incentives for good behaviour.

Recommendation

  • The Service should ensure legal compliance with offender rights, entitlements and access to programs for all forms of segregation "by any other name" consistent with legal and policy safeguards.