42nd Annual Report to Parliament
2014 – 2015
March 10, 2016
2014-15 Annual Report assesses progress on six key priorities:
- Access to Health Care
- Prevention of Deaths in Custody
- Conditions of Confinement
- Aboriginal Corrections
- Safe and Timely Reintegration
- Federally Sentenced Women
The report contains 18 recommendations, including five directed to authorities outside of the Correctional Service of Canada: Public Safety, Minister of Public Safety, Office of the Auditor General and Government of Canada.
1. Access to Health Care
Issues of Concern
- Mental illness, drug/alcohol dependence and infectious disease are the most prevalent health problems among federal offenders.
- Significant numbers of aging (over 50) offenders admitted with or developing chronic conditions while incarcerated is driving up the costs of correctional health care.
- CSC’s National Drug Formulary requires improvement:
- lacks an electronic pharmaceutical database
- decisions on non-formulary medications are inconsistent across regions
- unnecessary interruptions or sudden changes to medications for newly admitted or transferring offenders
- In 2013, 17.2% of inmates were infected with Hepatitis C. Access to emerging therapies with higher cure rates needs to be made available.
- Several unmet standards identified in Accreditation Canada’s latest on-site review of CSC health care facilities.
- No reliable or validated system to screen, assess and diagnose Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) prevalence in federal corrections.
- Implementation of CSC’s ‘optimal’ model of mental health care involves repurposing of psychiatric facilities and resources to fund intermediate care capacity.
- Incidents involving self-injurious behaviour have more than doubled in the last five years.
- Mental health issues were identified in over 30% of all use of force incidents.
- I recommend that CSC prepare a business case to seek additional funding this fiscal year to expand inmate access to evolving Hepatitis C therapies. This initiative should be framed as an investment in public health and public safety.
- I recommend that CSC’s efforts to establish prevalence estimates for chronic physical and mental health conditions be complemented by a comprehensive analysis of annually tracked and reported trends and causes of natural mortality among the federal inmate population.
- I recommend that CSC engage its Health Care Advisory Committee to develop a chronic/long-term care model that is responsive to the needs of the growing number of older/geriatric people behind bars. The model should be presented in time to influence CSC’s 2016-17 operational budget.
- I recommend that CSC immediately produce an Action Plan detailing the steps to be taken to address the issues of concern identified in the September 2014 Accreditation Canada report. This plan should be vetted at the next meeting of the Health Care Advisory Committee.
- I recommend that CSC establish a standing expert advisory committee on FASD to establish prevalence, provide advice on screening, assessment, treatment and program models for FASD-affected offenders. The Committee should recommend a FASD strategy for CSC’s Executive Committee in the next fiscal year.
- I recommend that the Department of Public Safety commission, in partnership with Health Canada, an independent validation of CSC’s ‘optimal’ model of mental health care and report findings to the Minister of Public Safety.
- I recommend that CSC examine international research and best practices to identify appropriate and effective trauma-informed treatment and services for offenders engaged in chronic self-injurious behaviour, and that a comprehensive intervention strategy be developed based on this review.
2. Prevention of Deaths in Custody
Issues of Concern
- Suicide remains the leading cause of non-natural death in penitentiaries, accounting for one-in-five deaths in custody.
- A disproportionate number of prison suicides occur in segregation units.
- In 2014-2015, there were 43 natural cause deaths in federal facilities. Cancer is the leading cause of natural mortality behind bars.
- System not well equipped to provide for increased health care needs associated with aging, chronic illness and end-of-life care.
- I recommend that the Minister of Public Safety request that the Public Safety and National Security Committee (SECU) of parliament conduct a study and public hearings into policy options for managing the care, custody and safe release of inmates aged 65 and over who no longer pose an ongoing substantiated risk to public safety.
3. Conditions of Confinement
Issues of Concern
- Almost half of the incarcerated population has been admitted to segregation.
- Inmates with a history of placements in segregation are more likely to have behavioural, mental health and/ or cognitive issues requiring intervention.
- Inmates are bearing more of the costs to keep themselves clothed, fed, housed and cared for behind bars.
- Recent changes to food production and distribution (“cook-chill” model) leading to complaints regarding food quality, selection and portion size.
- CSC’s inmate complaint and grievance system overwhelmed by a growing backlog and prolonged delays.
- Ongoing and significant compliance concerns identified in use of force interventions involving offenders engaged in self-injurious behaviour.
- I recommend that the Government of Canada amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to significantly limit the use of administrative segregation, prohibit its use for inmates who are mentally ill and for younger offenders (up to 21 years of age), impose a ceiling of no more than 30 continuous days, and introduce judicial oversight or independent adjudication for any subsequent stay in segregation beyond the initial 30 day placement.
- I recommend that the Department of Public Safety conduct a compliance audit of the CSC’s legal obligation to provide accessible, fair and expeditious resolution of offender complaints and grievances.
- I recommend that CSC re-allocate resources to Alternative Dispute Resolution to ensure the program is funded and made available in all federal penitentiaries.
- I recommend that in 2015-16 CSC undertake an external audit of its meal production services, with particular emphasis on safe food handling practices, equitable distribution of meals and concordance between the standards outlined in the National Menu and the nutritional value of meals provided to inmates.
- I recommend that the Office of the Auditor General of Canada consider a compliance audit of the CSC’s use of force review process.
- I recommend that Shield Walk Patrols be discontinued or, if not, be considered a use of force intervention and, as such, comply with all use of force policy and reporting requirements.
4. Aboriginal Issues
Issues of Concern
- Since March 2005, the Aboriginal inmate population has increased by 52.4%. As a group, Aboriginal people accounted for half of the total growth in the federal inmate population.
- Aboriginal people now account for 25% of the total inmate population.
- Gap in correctional outcomes between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal offenders continues to widen.
- I recommend that CSC publicly release its study of the impact of Aboriginal social history (“Gladue factors”) on case management and its influence on correctional decision outcomes for Aboriginal offenders. This study should be accompanied by a Management Action Plan.
5. Safe and Timely Reintegration
Issues of Concern
- Offenders increasingly released at Statutory Release (2/3 sentence) without having benefited from the completion of correctional programs or cascading to minimum security.
- Three in five inmates have a formal education of grade 8 or less; close to 75% of the population has an identified employment/employability need.
- Significant differences between prison industries (such as metal work, cabinetry-making, textiles, construction, etc.) and institutional prison employment (i.e. range cleaners).
- Less than 10% of the total inmate population is employed in prison industry work at any given time.
- I recommend that CSC re-tool its Corcan employment and employability program to focus on building capacity in vocational skills training in demand areas, including significantly increasing access to Red Seal trades and apprenticeships, as well as sales, marketing and information technologies.
6. Federally Sentenced Women
Issues of Concern
- Number of federally incarcerated women has increased by more than 50% over the last decade.
- Aboriginal women account for 35.5% of all women in federal custody.
- Inmate assaults involving Aboriginal women have almost doubled and use of force interventions nearly tripled in last ten years.
- Complex mental health cases continue to pose challenges emphasizing the need to resource external psychiatric assessments and expand options for transfer and placement in community psychiatric facilities.
- I recommend that CSC take full advantage of the expanded capacity in the minimum security units to maximize participation in the residential component of the mother-child program at the regional women’s facilities.
- I recommend that the National Complex Mental Health Committee oversee the treatment and intervention plans of chronically self-injurious offenders and ensure external psychological assessments are conducted in these cases.
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