Office of the Correctional Investigator
46th Annual Report to Parliament
2018 – 2019
Presentation Deck

February 2020

 

Context

  • Admissions to federal custody and the incarcerated population are declining:

    • Except for Indigenous and women (30% overall in-custody Indigenous representation and 41% for Indigenous women)
  • Number of offenders supervised in the community has been steadily increasing.

  • CSC is among the highest resourced correctional systems in the world, in terms of inmate-to-staff ratios and per inmate costs.

  • In terms of correctional performance outcomes, Canada may not be getting good value for comparatively high levels of investment.

    • Over-representation and poorer outcomes for Indigenous individuals
  • Four areas where reallocation is required: 1) Indigenous corrections; 2) Alternatives to incarceration for acute, mentally-ill, chronic self-injurious, and/or suicidal offenders; 3) Care and custody of older/elderly inmates; and, 4) Community Corrections (only 6% of total CSC budget).

Overview

  • 2018-19 Annual Report assesses progress on current mandate commitments & OCI priorities (Indigenous people, mentally ill and women).

  • Report contains 16 recommendations.

  • Includes three case studies in conditions of confinement:
    1. Ongoing dysfunction at Edmonton Institution.

    2. Use of Force at Atlantic Institution.

    3. Quality and quantity of prison food.
  • CSC’s response to each recommendation is embedded in the report (rather than annexed).

 

2018-19 OCI Annual Statistics

  • $5.4 M budget

  • 40 FTEs

  • 476 days spent in penitentiaries

  • 5,251 offender complaints

  • 1,345 interviews with offenders and staff

  • 1,616 use of force reviews

  • 116 deaths in custody and serious bodily injury reviews

  • 24,578 toll-free phone contacts

  • 25 million website “hits”

 

Health Care in Federal Corrections

Issues of Concern

  • The purpose, function, and clinical value of Therapeutic Ranges (male maximum security) remains unclear.

  • Some of the most troubling use of force incidents involve inmate-patients at Regional Treatment Centers (RTCs), which are designated psychiatric hospitals.

  • Problematic implementation of the Prison Needle Exchange Program (PNEP) has resulted in underwhelming uptake.

Recommendations

  1. CSC should review security practices and protocols that would ensure a more positive and supportive environment within which clinical care can be safely provided at the RTCs. This would identify a security model and response structure that would better serve the needs of patients, support treatment aims of clinicians, and meet least restrictive principles of the law.

  2. CSC should revisit its Prison Need Exchange Program purpose and criteria in consultation with inmates and staff with the aim of building confidence and trust, and look to international examples to enhance participation and effectiveness.

 

Deaths in Custody

Issues of Concern

  • The challenges and vulnerabilities faced by older individuals in custody.

    • Joint investigation with the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC).

    • Aging and Dying in Prison: An Investigation into the Experiences of Older Individuals in Federal Custody (February 2019).

    • End-of-life care and dying with dignity in prison.
  • Ethical and practical concerns with providing medical assistance in dying in a federal penitentiary setting.

Recommendation

  1. CSC should, in consultation with the Parole Board of Canada, conduct a joint review of the application of Section 121 “compassionate release” provisions of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to ensure policy and procedure is consistent with the spirit and intent of Medical Assistance in Dying legislation.

 

Conditions of Confinement

Case Study 1: Dysfunction at Edmonton Institution

  • Toxic and abusive work environment at Edmonton Institution led to negative media attention and personal interventions by the Minister.

  • Despite CSC efforts (independent investigation, new management team) a culture of impunity remains a problem.

  • Spill-over or contagion effects that can put the safety of inmates in jeopardy.
    • Case study details staff knowledge/complicity in repeated series of inmate-on-inmate assaults (protected status inmates) in October 2018.

  • CSC must provide working and living conditions that are safe and free of practices that undermine human dignity.

Recommendation

  1. CSC should commission an independent, third-party expert, to assess and diagnose the potential causes of a culture of impunity that appears to be present at some maximum-security facilities, and prescribe potential strategies that will lead to change.

 

Case Study 2: Use of Force at Atlantic Institution

  • In 2018-19, use of force incidents at Atlantic increased.

  • Little evidence that the new Engagement and Intervention Model (EIM) has had a measureable impact on de-escalation, reduction in use of force or over-reliance on inflammatory agents.

  • The Case Study indicates that organizational and cultural resistance may slow the pace of reform:
    • Lack of policy compliance.

    • Accountability issues.

    • Overall staff culture and attitude favouring a security-first approach.

Recommendation

  1. CSC should establish a working group, with external representation, to review all use of force incidents over a two-year period at maximum-security facilities.

 

Case Study 3: Quality and Quantity of Prison Food

  • CSC is not meeting its legal and policy obligations to ensure the inmate population is provided adequate and nutritional food.

  • Industrial food production model and other purported efficiencies are prioritized over the nutritional, health and safety needs of the inmate population.

  • Risks associated with failing to provide adequate quality and quantity of food to incarcerated individuals (e.g., violence/riots, food as commodity in underground economies, loss of vocational training opportunities, negative effects on health).

Recommendations

  1. External and independent review of CSC food services to inform the revision of the National Menu that is fully compliant with the new Canada Food Guide. This review should include direct and meaningful consultation with the inmate population.

  2. Delivery of Food Services should be overseen by Health Services, with internal and external oversight.

 

Indigenous Corrections

Issues of Concern

  • Cultural bias in risk assessment, as raised in the Supreme Court of Canada case of Ewert v. Canada, may be serving to further disadvantage Indigenous peoples who are incarcerated.

  • An under-reliance on the National Aboriginal Advisory Committee (NAAC) and their recommendations.

  • Vulnerability and lack of clarity on the role of Elders in federal corrections.

Recommendations

  1. CSC should publicly respond to how they will address the gaps identified in risk assessment with Indigenous inmates; and, acquire external, independent expertise to conduct empirical research to assess the validity and reliability of all existing tools.

  2. In consultation with the NAAC and the National Elders Working Group, implement an action plan with deliverables for clarifying the role of Elders and reducing Elder vulnerability within CSC and report publicly on these plans by end of 2019-2020.

 

Safe and Timely Community Reintegration

Issues of Concern

  • CSC policy and practice is not adequately responsive to the increasing diversity of the correctional population (e.g., religious and ethnic groups).

  • Insufficient number of community bed spaces are resulting in inmates waiting in prison after being granted parole.

  • Individuals are being released into the community without health cards and other official identification, resulting in difficulties with accessing essential services, such as health care and welfare/social assistance.

  • Older individuals in federal custody face unique challenges
    • Management of chronic health conditions.

    • Accessibility and accommodation of disability.

    • Institutionalization.

    • Reintegration barriers.
  • CSC is far behind other jurisdictions on digital/computer skills learning and transferable vocational/work skills.

Recommendation

  1. Complete a comprehensive review of its staff complement, to better reflect and represent the diversity of the offender population. CSC should examine complaints against staff on prohibited grounds of discrimination.

  2. Significant resources be reallocated to the community supervision program and that CSC develop a long-term strategy to address the shortage in community-based accommodation, and implement a system to assess/track the needs of offenders being released.

  3. Each Regional Headquarters dedicate a resource person to work with Provincial government counterparts to coordinate the acquisition of official documentation for federal offenders prior to their release to the community.

  4. Reconsider the recommendations in Aging and Dying in Prison, with an aim to revising the national policy framework for aging offenders, identifying new commitments and timelines for implementation.

  5. Enhance digital/computer skills training to better prepare individuals for the workforce, increase availability of apprenticeship opportunities and work releases, report on how they will address the unique employability needs of vulnerable populations; and, modernize its manufacturing sector to better align with labour market trends.

 

Federally Sentenced Women

Issues of Concern

  • Secure Unit (maximum security) off level movement system is a gender-based discriminatory restriction unique to women’s institutions.

  • Accommodation of gender identity and expression in women’s institutions.

  • Routine and randomized strip searches of incarcerated women are not trauma-informed or responsive to Creating Choices.

Recommendations

  1. The movement level should be rescinded. Supervision and security requirements should be individually assessed on a case-by-case basis.

  2. Random strip search routine and protocol should be rescinded and replaced with a more trauma-informed, gender-responsive search policy.

 

Outlook for 2019-2020

Areas of OCI focus for 2019-2020

  • Elimination of administrative segregation.
    • Implementation of the Structured Interventions Units
  • National roll-out of the Prison Needle Exchange Program.

  • Introduction of a Patient Advocate Program.

  • Implementation of 24/7 on-site health care at designated institutions.

Thematic Investigations in 2019-2020

  • Education (learning) behind bars.

  • Access to mental health treatment.

  • Progress on Indigenous corrections issues.

  • Sexual violence and coercion in federal prisons.