Improving the Corrections System: John Howard Society’s 5-Point Plan

1. Respect the Presumption of Innocence
2. Sue for Peace in the War on Drugs
3. Treat Rather than Punish the Mentally Il
4. Proportionate and Constructive Penalties
5. From Confinement to Contribution – Effective Corrections


1. Respect the Presumption of Innocence

Canada is experiencing a crisis in bail and remand. Far too many prisoners (more than 50% in our provincial and territorial jails) have not been convicted or sentenced. This undermines the presumption of innocence in our country. Though it costs about $185 per day to keep a person in custody, the conditions of confinement in provincial and territorial remand facilities are some of the worst in the entire corrections system: crowded, violent, and lacking in essential services and programs. The presumption of innocence is also undermined by police record checks revealing non-conviction information about individuals that is damaging. Addressing the erosion of the presumption of innocence and the pre-trial detention crisis should include:

  1. Humane conditions in remand facilities
    1. Reduce crowding, end violence, limit duration of stays, ensure access to medical service, respect human rights instruments
  2. Fewer people needlessly detained prior to trials through policies, programs, and legislative reform
    1. Reduce numbers detained for breaching conditions but ensuring conditions are reasonable, reduce requirements for sureties, provide bail alternative programs
    2. Clarify test, drop third ground for detention
  3. Reduction in loss of liberties for those not convicted of crimes
    1. Limit use of police and other records reflecting contact with the justice system

(a) Objective/Standard

Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms: S. 11(e) guarantees right not to be denied reasonable bail without just cause; s. 7 guarantees right not to be denied life, liberty and security of the person except in accordance with principles of fundamental justice

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: Article 9: 3. Anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release. It shall not be the general rule that persons awaiting trial shall be detained in custody, but release may be subject to guarantees to appear for trial, at any other stage of the judicial proceedings, and, should occasion arise, for execution of the judgement.

  1. Anyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings before a court, in order that that court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of his detention and order his release if the detention is not lawful.
  2. Anyone who has been the victim of unlawful arrest or detention shall have an enforceable right to compensation.

Article 10: 1. All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.

  1. (a) Accused persons shall, save in exceptional circumstances, be segregated from convicted persons and shall be subject to separate treatment appropriate to their status as unconvicted persons;

United Nations Minimum Standard Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners:

  1. (b) Untried prisoners shall be kept separate from convicted prisoners;

Accommodation

  1. (1) Where sleeping accommodation is in individual cells or rooms, each prisoner shall occupy by night a cell or room by himself. If for special reasons, such as temporary overcrowding, it becomes necessary for the central prison administration to make an exception to this rule, it is not desirable to have two prisoners in a cell or room.

(2) Where dormitories are used, they shall be occupied by prisoners carefully selected as being suitable to associate with one another in those conditions. There shall be regular supervision by night, in keeping with the nature of the institution.

  1. All accommodation provided for the use of prisoners and in particular all sleeping accommodation shall meet all requirements of health, due regard being paid to climatic conditions and particularly to cubic content of air, minimum floor space, lighting, heating and ventilation.

(b) Evidence/Statistics/Reports

Canadian Civil Liberties Association Report “Set up to Fail”, July 2014 raises questions about the Charter compliance of bail practices in Canada:

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John Howard Society of Ontario recent Report “Reasonable Bail?” raises concerns about the practice of bail in Ontario:

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Statistics Canada, Lindsay Porter and Donna Calvery, Trends in the Use of Remand in Canada 2000/2001 to 2009/2010: Note: Administration of justice offences most common type of offence for which adults are remanded. In 2008/2009, in the five provinces that responded to the ICSS most admissions to remand were for non-violent offences (68%), the most common of which were failure to comply and breach of probation (See Chart 6).

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Canadian Civil Liberties Association Report on Non-conviction Records, 2012

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Supeme Court of Canada’s October 2014 judgement in R. v. Conception 2014 SCC 60 at paragraph 77 noted that mentally disordered patients did not fare well as inmates and often experience violence, neglect, and segregation.

[77] Mentally disordered patients do not typically fare well as inmates. They are frequently victims of intimidation and violence and are more likely than the general prison population to attempt suicide, self-harm, or self-destructive behaviour. An experienced correctional officer testified in this case that the mental health care needs of mentally ill accused persons in provincial jail are frequently neglected due to lack of special units and trained personnel. Fewer than one-third of Ontario provincial jails have special units for inmates with mental illness or developmental disability. Where there is no special unit, or where the unit is full, mentally ill accused persons are typically held in segregation cells.

(c) Commentary

Enright, Michael, Innocent until Proven Guilty – Except on Remand: comments on the remand crisis in Canada

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McCrank, Neil, et al, Changing Face of Corrections Task Force, 2009 — noted practical problems of increasing number of remanded prisoners, including: 1) rising costs of transporting individuals to and from court; 2) crowding in facilities close to court ; 3) increasing security concerns associated with managing anxious prisoners still facing possible convictions and sentences; 4) increasing fiscal pressues associated with new facilities with each additional bed costing as much as $ 300,000; and 5) limited programming (ibid., 16-17). The task force also referred to the moral implications for the administration of justice and civil society of having more remanded than sentenced prisoners in provincial and territorial prisons on a given day (ibid., 13).

Latimer, Catherine Foreward to Mark Stobbe’s Lessons from Remand commenting on crisis in remand

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Piché, Justin, A Contradictory and Finishing State: Explaining Recent Prison Capacity Expansion in Canada’s Provinces and Territories, vol. xi, Champ Penal 2014 – demonstrates that prison expansion in provinces and territories is being driven by increasing numbers and crowding in remand facilities

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Inmate dies of diabetic ketoacidosis – June 29, 2014 The Province:

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(d) Promising Programs/Approaches

Successful bail alternative programs in Ontario:

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(e) Options for Reforms

CCLA’s Key findings and recommendations from “Set up to Fail”:

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John Howard Society of Ontario’s Reasonable Bail?:

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McCrank, Changing Face of Corrections Task Force, 2009 – recognized increasing numbers in remand was beyond the control of the correctional services and urged broad reforms to reduce the number of individuals awaiting bail decisions, trial, and sentencing in detention:

B.C. Coroner’s Finding and Recommendations re death of inmate from diabetic ketoacidosis – June 27, 2014: Early assessment and better medical care for detainees:

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(f) Recommendations

To be developed


2. Sue for Peace in the War on Drugs

An element of the War on Drugs was that tough penalties would reduce drug use.  While evidence suggests this did not happen, our prisons are filling with people battling addictions.  With improving knowledge, evidence of effective approaches, and an understanding that addiction is an illness, there are better more effective ways to deal with addicts who commit crimes than disproportionately long sentences for their offences.  These include:

  1. New Drug Strategy to emphasize harm reduction,  prevention, and treatment of the illness of addiction
  2. Effective non-criminal justice system responses to addiction
  3. Assessing effectiveness of interdiction strategy for federal prisons – possibly reallocating resources for harm reduction and treatment efforts

(a) Objective/Standards

Supreme Court of Canada decision 2011:  Canada (Attorney General) v. PHS Community Services Society:  

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(b) Evidence/Statistics/Reports

Why the “War on Drugs” is a total failure:  How can Canada design better policy around drug use?:  Review of Paula Mallea’s new book:  “The War on Drugs: A Failed Experiment”:

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Report of the LSE Expert Group on the Economics of Drug Policy, Ending the Drug Wars, May 2014

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Huffington Post shows US War on Drugs linked to the rise in incarceration

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(c) Commentary

Globe and Mail, October 2, 2013, War on Drugs an Expensive Failure

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Globe and Mail September 30, 2011, Reports on the Supreme Court of Canada decision relating to BC’S Insite, a safe injection site

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Richard Branson – Just say “no” to the war on drugs:

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(d) Promising Programs/Approaches

Guthrie House Therapeutic Community in Nanaimo recognized for the success of its innovative program in supporting the successful reintegration of prisoners with addiction issues:  Kudos John Howard Society Nanaimo Region:

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Community drug treatment programs would make Ontario safer:

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Thunder Bay’s progressive drug strategy includes harm reduction and collaboration among a number of community agencies, including John Howard Society of Thunder Bay:

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(e) Options for reforms

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) released an evidence-informed report on October 9, 2014 recommending the legalization with strict regulation of cannabis:

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Drug use prior to incarceration and associated socio-behavioural factors among males in a provincial correctional facility in Ontario, Canada:  “This study provides the first Canadian data in the past decade on drug use by recently incarcerated adults. We found that drug use and behaviours that increase the risk of transmission of sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections remain very common in this population. Incarceration provides an opportunity to provide services and links to programs for people who use drugs, which could decrease drug-related harms to individuals and society.”

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(f) Recommendations

To be developed


3. Treat Rather than Punish the Mentally Ill

The increasing number of prisoners battling mental illness and suffering from brain injuries is a cause for concern for all sectors of the criminal justice and corrections system. Imprisonment, particularly solitary confinement, is known to worsen mental health sometimes leading to self-harm and suicide. Effective, justice, and humane approaches are needed that:

  1. Encourage effective non-criminal justice system responses for mentally ill/brain injured
  2. Evaluate/amend “not criminally responsible” and other Criminal Code provisions
  3. Improve treatment for mentally ill, brain-injured prisoners

(a) Objective/Standards

Prisoners are entitled to the same standard of health care as non-prisoners

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: S. 12 provides protections from cruel and unusual treatment or punishment

UN Convention against Torture: Article 11 provides protections for prisoners

(b) Evidence/Statistics/Reports

University of Glasgow study shows ‘significant association’ between head injury and crime

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Ashley Smith: Coroner’s Verdict and Recommendations, December 19, 2013:

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Office of the Correctional Investigator, “A Review of Correctional Services of Canada’s ‘Mental Health Strategy’”, 2010

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Office of the Correctional Investigator, “Risky Business: An Investigation of the Treatment and Management of Chronic Self-Injury Among Federally Sentenced Women Final Report”, September 30, 2013 (HTML) (PDF, 353kb)

Office of the Correctional Investigator, A Three Year Review of Federal Inmate Suicides (2011-2014) Final Report, September 10, 2014 (HTML) (PDF, 2mb)

Supeme Court of Canada’s October 2014 judgement in R. v. Conception 2014 SCC 60 at paragraph 77 noted that mentally disordered patients did not fare well as inmates and often experience violence, neglect, and segregation.

[77] Mentally disordered patients do not typically fare well as inmates. They are frequently victims of intimidation and violence and are more likely than the general prison population to attempt suicide, self-harm, or self-destructive behaviour. An experienced correctional officer testified in this case that the mental health care needs of mentally ill accused persons in provincial jail are frequently neglected due to lack of special units and trained personnel. Fewer than one-third of Ontario provincial jails have special units for inmates with mental illness or developmental disability. Where there is no special unit, or where the unit is full, mentally ill accused persons are typically held in segregation cells.

(c) Commentary

Renu Mandhane, Director, International Human Rights Program, University of Toronto Faculty of Law, posted “How Canadian Prisons Torture the Mentally Ill” on January 6, 2012

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Scotland looks at links between brain injuries and criminal justice:

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Nearly half of Ontario prisoners suffered traumatic brain injury, July 17, 2014 article in The Star reporting on a study from the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute

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Mentally-ill man commits suicide in prison: tougher NCR provisions may lead to more not raising mental health and defaulting into prison: Commentary by Anita Szigeti, criminal defence lawyer and Chair of Criminal Lawyers Association Committee on Mental Health, in the Toronto on June 29, 2014

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Seriously mentally ill federal prisoners in the Ontario Region kept in ‘grossly inadequate’ conditions: CBC coverage on Feb 27, 2014

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Edward Snowshoes spent 162 days in segregation before committing suicide: CBC coverage on July 11, 2014:

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(d) Promising programs /approaches

The Mental Health Commission of Canada released its National At Home/Chez Soi Final Report on April 3, 2014: It showed that a housing first approach for those with mental health challenges reduced jail and prison costs, among other things

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(e) Options for reforms

UN urges Canada to ban solitary confinement for the mentally ill:

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Ashley Smith Coroner’s Jury made many important recommendations, including transferring the seriously mentally ill to treatment facilities and limiting periods of segregation:

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The Correctional Investigator in his reports made many recommendations for changes including banning the use of segregation for those with serious mental illness, limiting segregation, and moving the most seriously ill and self-abusing prisoners to treatment facilities: “Risky Business: An Investigation of the Treatment and Management of Chronic Self-Injury Among Federally Sentenced Women Final Report”, September 30, 2013 (HTML) (PDF, 353kb); A Three Year Review of Federal Inmate Suicides (2011-2014) Final Report, September 10, 2014 (HTML) (PDF, 2mb)

(f) Recommendations

At it’s Annual General Meeting on October 25, 2014, the John Howard Society unanimously passed New Brunswick’s proposed resolution to restrict the use of solitary confinement:

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4. Proportionate and Constructive Penalties

A growing number of mandatory minimum custodial and financial penalties have constrained judicial discretion and resulted in sentences that are disproportionately harsh. The availability of effective and less expensive community-based sentences and alternatives has been reduced. An improved sentencing regime could address:

  1. unfairness of mandatory minimum custodial penalties
  2. unfairness of mandatory monetary penalties, surcharges, and fines: promote fine option programs
  3. unfairness of indeterminate sentences, including ‘dangerous offender’ designations
  4. repaying debt to society through community-based sentencing alternatives
  5. an independent review process for those who may have been wrongfully convicted

(a) Objectives/standards

A sentence should be proportionate to the seriousness of the crime and the degree of responsibility of the offender

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, S. 12 provides protections against cruel and unusual punishment or treatment

(b) Evidence/Statistics/Reports

B.C. Civil Liberties Association, “More than we can Afford: The Costs of Mandatory Minimum Sentencing” released on September 8, 2014:

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(c) Commentary

Most Americans Support Ending Mandatory Minimum Sentencing for Nonviolent Offenders, Huffington Post, Oct. 10, 2014

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CBA National Magazine, The Victim Surcharge

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Prominent Ottawa Judge Strikes Down Mandatory Victim Surcharge, July 31, 2014

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Mandatory Minimums Branded Ineffective, Overly Constraining, The Lawyers Weekly Magazine, Sept. 26, 2014

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Justice Melvin Green traces roots of the enduring restraint principle in sentencing

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(d) Promising Programs/Approaches

Drug and mental health programs as alternatives to the justice system or to custody can be more effective, just, and humane than custodial responses to crime

Discharging penalties for crime through community-based sentences, including fine option programs, can be more effective, just, and humane than custodial sentences or unrealistic financial penalties

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association concludes its report on mandatory minimum sentencing with: “The need for evidence-based, thoughtful policy reform in the criminal justice system can be no clearer. But we cannot wait. Lawyers, advocacy organizations, researchers and policy makers all have important and immediate roles to play in preventing the unjustness that will result from mandatory minimum sentences: bringing constitutional challenges under the Charter, increasing public education about the criminal justice system (sentencing in particular, about which the public knows very little) and ongoing research on the downstream costs of incarceration. It is our responsibility to ensure that the justice system is first and foremost just.” : The John Howard Society of Canada has applied to intervene in R. v. Nur, the mandatory minimum sentencing case proceeding to the SCC.

(e) Options for reforms

Recognizing that Canada is the only common law country without an exemption for judges to avoid min sentence where injustice would result, the Canadian Bar Association passed Resolution 11-09-A calling for judicial discretion to avoid the mandatory minimum if an injustice would result

(f) Recommendations

To be developed


5. From Confinement to Contribution – Effective Corrections

The increasing numbers of prisoners in the federal and provincial correctional facilities have made it difficult for correctional authorities to meet essential needs of prisoners and provide rehabilitative programs.  Many prisons have become crowded and violent without opportunities for skills development and constructive activity.  Prisoners are facing longer periods of incarceration and less support and supervision through parole as they return to communities.  This approach makes communities less safe.  A safer and more effective approach could include:

  1. Humane corrections — Meet essential needs
    1. Comply with Human Rights standards for prisoners (domestic and international)
    2. Reduce crowding, limit solitary confinement, + protect prisoners from violence
    3. Meet physical and mental health needs of prisoners
  2. From Warehousing to Skills – Effective prison programs
    1. Provide effective educational opportunities
    2. Provide life skills and job training (certification programs)
    3. Employment opportunities and prisoner-based co-operatives
    4. Reinstate prison farms
  3. Success in Communities – Graduated, Safe and Supported Reintegration
    1. Effective pro-social approaches, including temporary releases for work, compassion, etc.
    2. Comprehensive parole reform to encourage supervised and supported graduated release
    3. End continued punishment/discrimination after debt paid to society – assess and rework ‘record suspension’ system – fees, eligibility, timelines; assess registries

(a) Objectives/standards

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, S. 12 provides protections against cruel and unusual punishment or treatment

Corrections and Conditional Release Act sets out the legal framework for federal corrections in Canada

The United Nations Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners sets out standards for corrections, including single cell occupancy

(b) Evidence/Statistics/Reports

Corrections and Conditional Release Statistical Overview, March 13, 2014 – This annual document produced by Public Safety Canada provides a statistical overview of corrections and conditional release within a context of trends in crime and criminal justice:

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Office of the Correctional Investigator produces both annual and special reports on the federal corrections system.  These evidence based reports provide key insights into conditions in our prisons.  The link to his most recent Annual Report follows and the important findings and recommendations relating to a failing parole system and other issues are set out below in the options for reform section:

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CSC Community Corrections Research Results: Research shows that society is best protected when an offender is gradually reintegrated into the community under supervision, with appropriate monitoring and control:

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(c) Commentary

U.K. Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick in a June 29, 2014 article in the Observer, raises concerns that the rising prison population is jeopardizing safety:

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John Howard Society of Canada produced a Backgrounder on prison overcrowding (available on web site ) and asks if  “Overcrowding in Canadian Prisons Amount to Cruel and Unusual Punishment?

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The film, “Til the Cows Come Home” shows the Kingston community’s efforts to save the prison farms from being closed:

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Andrew Gregg’s documentary film “State of Incarceration” questions why Canada, despite record low crime rates, is investing in more prison cells, tougher mandatory minimum sentences and constraints on parole, approaches that have failed in the United States. His well-researched and insightful documentary can be seen on CBC’s Doc Zone:

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In My Brother’s Keeper, a June 2014, Blog by Ryan Shanahan  of United State’s Vera Institute of Justice advocates for the benefits of family visits to successful reintegration:

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Steve Sullivan, i politics – Jobs and Justice:  How the pardon crackdown made Canada less safe:

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(d) Promising programs / Approaches

Many countries have had success with prisoner-based cooperatives which often emerge during periods of fiscal restraint

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Fraser Valley Farm Project aims to give inmates a new stake in the community – repayment to victims and community, The Province April 9, 2014

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California introduces Prison Farm-to-Table Program to teach sustainable agricultural practices

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(e) Options for reforms

The Annual Report of the Correctional Investigator 2013-14, makes the following findings and recommendations:

Special Focus on Safe and Timely Reintegration

Issues of Concern

Key indicators show that CSC is facing challenges in preparing offenders for safe and timely reintegration:

  • Over the past 5 years parole grants rates declined by 20%.
  • Proportion of sentence served incarcerated prior to first release highest since 2003.
  • 71% of all releases in 2013-14 were by statutory release; over 80% for Aboriginals.
  • Work releases decreasing; only 389 inmates involved in 2012-13.

Time spent in prison should be about addressing unmet needs that contribute to crime.

CSC spends less than 5% of its budget on correctional reintegration programs.

Investigation of Community Correctional Centres

Profile

  • CSC operates 16 CCCs with a total bed capacity of 474 and an annual budget of $30M (1.1% of CSC’s overall budget).
  • Over half (55%) of offenders residing in a CCC are on statutory release.
  • Nearly three-quarters transferred directly from either a medium or maximum security penitentiary.

Barriers to reintegration

  • Adequacy of pre-release services and supports for offenders transferring to CCCs.
  • Limited and inconsistent access to healthcare expertise, employment assistance and cultural services in some CCCs.
  • Limited community outreach and engagement.
  • CCCs deliver significant impact in terms of value for money, efficacy and contribution to public safety, yet receive very modest funding.

Recommendations

  • I recommend that CSC develop a comprehensive pre-release planning strategy that includes mandatory meetings between offenders and their institutional and community parole officer, a process to ensure an offender’s official documents (i.e. birth certificate and health card) are available prior to release, and a handbook identifying programs, services and supports available in the release community.
  • I recommend that every CCC have consistent access to the necessary resources, including nurses, social workers and psychologists, to ensure access to appropriate services and care.
  • I recommend that CSC develop a national training plan specific to employees working in CCCs.
  • I recommend that CSC develop a national partnership strategy for CCCs which includes creating an inventory of services and partners that are available, identifying gaps in partnerships (e.g. cultural groups), a communications plan that educates and informs community members, and a timetable for monitoring and reporting on these activities.
  • I recommend that CSC conduct an operational audit of resources allocated to community corrections and CCCs specifically. The outcome of this audit should help inform reallocation decisions and the development of renewed monitoring and reporting strategy for CCCs.
  • I recommend that CSC establish a working committee with the Parole Board of Canada to examine best practices and guidelines regarding the appropriate use of residency conditions for offenders released on statutory release and offenders on a long-term supervision order.

Access to Health Care

Issues of Concern

  • Increasingly complex physical and mental health care needs = rising costs of offender health care.
  • Lack of electronic offender health information.
  • Lack of an integrated model to treat offenders with concurrent substance abuse and mental health disorders.
  • In 2012, 18.5% of inmates were infected with Hepatitis C and 1.2% with HIV.
  • CSC has not responded to previous OCI recommendations it has linked to the government’s response to the Ashley Smith inquest:
    • Appoint a patient advocate for Regional Treatment Centres.
    • Transfer of the most complex mental health cases to external treatment facilities.
    • Prohibition of long-term segregation of seriously mentally disordered, suicidal and self-injurious offenders.

Recommendations

  • I recommend that CSC move forward the completion date of the electronic offender health information system. This may require new or reallocated funds.
  • I recommend that CSC’s review of chronic health conditions be integrated with and inform a comprehensive prevention strategy to reduce premature mortality.
  • I recommend that efforts to ensure identification, ongoing monitoring and treatment of HIV infection in CSC facilities be a priority and that relevant systems to ensure timely and effective diagnosis and treatment are put in place.
  • I recommend that CSC develop a comprehensive integrated model to treat offenders with concurrent substance abuse and mental health disorders.

Deaths in Custody

Issues of Concern

  • In any given year, about two-thirds of all in-custody deaths are attributed to natural causes (i.e. cancer, cardiovascular disease, infection).
  • Combination of aging inmate population (+50 years) and indeterminate sentences means that an increasing number will develop chronic health conditions. Some will live out their natural life behind bars.
  • System not well equipped to care and provide for the demographics of an aging and ailing inmate population.
  • Need to balance justice and humanitarian concerns in cases involving palliative and/or terminally ill offenders.

Recommendation

  • I recommend that CSC reconsider its response to the Office’s report on the mortality review process to more specifically address the concerns about the lack of rigour, independence, credibility and timeliness in how the Service currently investigates natural cause fatalities.
  • I recommend that CSC issue a Request for Proposal to secure palliative community services and accommodations to allow terminally ill offenders to die with dignity in the community.

Conditions of Confinement

Issues of Concern

  • Safe custody indicators continue to deteriorate.
  • Past 5 years:
    • Double bunking (+93%).
    • Use of segregation (+6.4%).
    • Inmate assaults (+17%).
    • Use of force (+6.7%).
    • Involuntary transfers (+33%).
    • Self-injury (+56%).
  • For the first time, Conditions of Confinement surpassed Health Care as the number one category of offender complaint to my Office.
  • Significant reduction in the number and scope of use of force incidents subject to national review.
  • Limited programs and services specific to younger offenders (18-25 ).

Recommendations

  • I recommend that the Correctional Service develop and implement a National Strategy for Younger Offenders in collaboration with external stakeholders with expertise in service delivery to young adults. The Strategy should address the need for policies, programs and services tailored specifically to meet the unique needs of offenders aged 25 and under.

Aboriginal Issues

Issues of Concern

  • Since March 2005, the Aboriginal inmate population has increased by 47.4%. Aboriginal people now comprise 24% of the incarcerated population while representing just 4% of the Canadian population.
  • The gap in many correctional outcome measures between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal offenders continues to widen.
  • Inconsistent consideration of Aboriginal Social History factors (i.e. effects of residential schools, family histories of substance abuse, negative experience in the child welfare or adoption system) in managing the sentence of an Aboriginal offender.

Recommendations

  • I recommend that CSC conduct an audit to assess whether Aboriginal Social History factors are being adequately considered in case management records and decisions.

Federally Sentenced Women

Issues of Concern

  • Since 2004-05, the number of women in custody has increased by two-thirds . 1 in 3 female inmates is Aboriginal.
  • 62.6% of incarcerated women were prescribed some form of psychotropic medication to manage mental health symptoms.
  • Increase in use of force interventions to manage women who self-injure.
  • 3 in 4 female inmates are also mothers of children under 18 years of age.
  • Inadequate Double Bunking Assessments in the Maximum Security Units.

Recommendations

  • I recommend that CSC implement CHILD LINK at all regional women’s facilities.
  • I recommend that CSC conduct a review of double-bunking assessments and assignments in the Secure Units.

Outlook for 2014-15

Issues to Watch

  • Impact of budgetary reductions on inmate programs and service delivery (e.g. inmate pay, food services, case management, health care).
  • Completion/opening of new cells and units across the country.
  • Government response to the Ashley Smith inquest and recommendations.
  • Regional Treatment Centre (Ontario) developments.
  • Offender employment and employability within institutions and CORCAN industries.
  • Impact of court decisions on federal corrections.
  • Full, timely and constructive response to systemic concerns raised by my Office.

Recommendations made by the inquiry into the death of Edward Snowshoe (Suicide in Segregation):

  • Set up a formalized system that details health and mental health issues for transferred inmates.
  • All staff be immediately reminded they have access to electronic logs about inmates.
  • That staff with responsibility for certain prisoners brief and hand off their work before going on vacation.
  • Set up guidelines for keeping track of the time a prisoner is in segregation and ensure that segregation review occurs.
  • That psychology departments review procedures and make sure that those with mental health issues receive help.
  • That psychologists and parole officers keep detailed notes of their interactions with inmates, including recommendations for future checks.
  • Security standards in prisons should be reviewed.
  • Full observation cells should be used for those with suicidal history.
  • Staff in segregation units should record which inmate they visited.
  • Allow family access to prisoners during the transfer process and a communication system formalized.
  • Aboriginal elders have access to prisoners when there are mental health and cultural concerns.
  • When necessary, prisoners in segregation be sent to special handling units for mental health or other health issues.

Ashley Smith: Coroner’s Verdict and Recommendations, December 19, 2013:

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(f) Recommendations

At it’s Annual General Meeting on October 25, 2014, the John Howard Society unanimously passed New Brunswick’s proposed resolution to restrict the use of solitary confinement:

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