Correctional Service of Canada

Correctional Service of Canada
Correctional Service of Canada
Service correctionnel du Canada
Common name Corrections Canada
Abbreviation CSC/SCC
Uniform Shoulder Patch of CSC Officers
Csc badge1.jpg
CSC Heraldic Badge
Motto Futura Recipere
"To Grasp the Future"
Agency overview
Formed December 21, 1978
Preceding agencies
  • Canadian Penitentiary Service (CPS)
  • National Parole Service
Employees 14,452 (March 31, 2006)[1]
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Federal agency Canada
Governing body Public Safety Canada
Constituting instrument Corrections and Conditional Release Act
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters Ottawa, Ontario
Elected officer responsible Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety
Agency executive Don Head, Commissioner
Head office of the Correctional Service of Canada

The Correctional Service of Canada (French: Service correctionnel du Canada), or CSC, (formerly Canadian Penitentiary Service) is the Canadian federal government agency responsible for the incarceration and rehabilitation of convicted criminal offenders sentenced to two years or more. The system has its headquarters in Ottawa.[2]

The Correctional Service of Canada came into being on December 21, 1978, when Queen Elizabeth II signed authorization for the newly commissioned agency and presented it with its Armorial Bearings.

The Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada is recommended for appointment by the Prime Minister and approved by an Order in Council. This appointed position reports directly to the Minister of Public Safety Canada and is accountable to the public via the Parliament.

The current Commissioner of Corrections is Don Head, who has held this post since June 27, 2008. Head previously served as Senior Deputy Commissioner from 2002 until June 2008.



Early years

Following the development of the penitentiary by the Philadelphia Quakers in the 1780s, the concept of penitence—isolation, work and religious contemplation—influenced the design and operation of prisons, not only in North America, but also in Europe, South America and Asia.[3] The "Auburn System" developed at the Auburn Penitentiary in New York adopted the penitentiary sentence of the Philadelphia model, but added prisoners' labour, in the belief that work and training would assist in reforming criminals. The Kingston Penitentiary, based on the Auburn System, was built in 1835.[4][5] Initially operated as a provincial jail, the penitentiary came under federal jurisdiction following the passage of the British North America Act in 1867.[5]

In 1868, the first Penitentiary Act brought prisons in Saint John, New Brunswick and Halifax, along with Kingston, under federal jurisdiction. Over the next twelve years, the federal government built Saint-Vincent-de-Paul Penitentiary in Saint-Vincent-de-Paul, Quebec (1873), Manitoba Penitentiary, in Stoney Mountain, Manitoba (1877), British Columbia Penitentiary, in New Westminster, British Columbia (1878) and Dorchester Penitentiary, in Dorchester, New Brunswick (1880).[5]

The regime of these prisons included productive labour during the day, solitary confinement during leisure hours and the rule of silence at all times. While there was no parole, prisoners with good conduct could have three days per month remitted from their sentence.[5]

Reformation and rehabilitation

The Royal Commission to Investigate the Penal System of Canada (the Archambault Commission) was formed in response to a series of riots and strikes in the 1930s.[6] The Archambault report, published in 1938, proposed sweeping changes for Canadian penitentiaries, with emphasis on crime prevention and the rehabilitation of prisoners. The Commission recommended a complete revision of penitentiary regulations to provide "strict but humane discipline and the reformation and rehabilitation of prisoners." While the commission's recommendations were not immediately implemented due to the advent of World War II, much of the report's philosophy remains influential.[5]

After the war, prison populations rose, causing overcrowding and prison disturbances. This led to the creation of the Fauteux Committee in 1953. The Committee saw prisons not merely as fulfilling a custodial role, but also to provide programs that would promote "worthwhile and creative activity" and address the basic behaviour, attitudes and patterns of inmates. This meant prisons had to change to support such programs and provide opportunities for vocational training, pre-release and after-care programs. The Fauteux Report recommended hiring more, and better-trained, personnel, including those with professional qualifications in social work, psychology, psychiatry, criminology and law.[5] An important legacy of the Committee was the creation of the National Parole Board in 1959 and the development of a system of parole to replace the former ticket of leave system.[7] While stating that parole was not to be a reduction, or undermining, of the sentence, the committee emphasized its strong support for parole:

"'Parole is a well-recognized procedure which is designed to be a logical step in the reformation and rehabilitation of a person who has been convicted of an offence and, as a result, is undergoing imprisonment... It is a transitional step between close confinement in an institution and absolute freedom in society" (Fauteux 1956, 51).'"[7]

The Penitentiary Act was amended in 1961 and a plan enacted to build ten new penitentiaries across Canada to implement the Fauteaux Committee’s recommendations.[5]

Formation of the Correctional Service of Canada

The Correctional Service of Canada was established in 1979, after the merger of the Canadian Penitentiary Service with the National Parole Service, in 1976.[8]


As of 2011, the current Commissioner of Corrections is Don Head. (June 27, 2008-current)

Former Commissioners[9]

  • Keith Coulter (2005–2008)
  • Lucie McClung (2000–2005)
  • Ole Ingstrup (1996–2000)
  • John Edwards (1993–1996)
  • Ole Ingstrup (1988–1992)
  • Rhéal J. Leblanc (1985–1988)
  • Don Yeomans (1977–1985)

Mission statement

"The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC), as part of the criminal justice system and respecting the rule of law, contributes to public safety by actively encouraging and assisting offenders to become law-abiding citizens, while exercising reasonable, safe, secure and humane control."[10]

Legislative jurisdiction

The operation of the CSC is governed by federal statute under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and Corrections and Conditional Release Regulations. In addition, the statute provides for discretion under the directive of the Commissioner. However, all Commissioner's Directives must remain within the parameters of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.

The Correctional Service of Canada only has jurisdiction over offenders in Canada for court-imposed sentences 24 months (two years) or greater.

International treaties applying to CSC operations

Court-imposed sentencing

There are two types of court-imposed sentences:

  1. a determinate sentence;
  2. an indeterminate sentence.

A determinate sentence is a sentence with a completion date (example five years, seven months), called a "Warrant Expiry". This date is court imposed, at which time the Correctional Service of Canada no longer has jurisdiction over the offender.

An indeterminate sentence is a sentence that is commonly referred to as a "life sentence". The Correctional Service of Canada has jurisdiction over the offender until the offender passes away. Although the court does impose a minimum number of years before the offender can apply to the Parole Board of Canada for conditional release. Thus, a court-imposed sentence of life with no parole for twenty-five years would indicate that the offender would be incarcerated for a minimum of twenty five years prior to consideration for a potential conditional release to the community, under the supervision of a community parole officer.

As of 2006 the incarceration rate in Canada was 107 per 100,000 people; one seventh that of the United States'.[11]

Security classification of offenders

There are three levels of security within the Correctional Service of Canada. They include maximum, medium, and minimum. Case management is completed by institutional parole officers (POs) within institutions, and by community parole officers in the community. The Parole Board of Canada has the complete responsibility in making liberty decisions at the point in the court-imposed sentence where an offender is allowed to live in the community on conditional release.

Once an offender is sentenced by a court to a sentence of two (2) years or more the offender comes under the jurisdiction of the Correctional Service of Canada. An institutional parole officer completes a comprehensive assessment of the offender's criminality and formulates an "offender security classification report" and a "correctional plan". It is this correctional plan that the offender will be assessed against for the entire court-imposed sentence. For offenders who receive a life sentence, there is a mandatory two year residency at a maximum security institution, regardless of the offender's behaviour.


Most personnel are plain clothed including, Parole Officers, Program Facilitators, Psychologists, Staff Training Officers, Assessment and Intervention Managers, Security Intelligence Officers, Assistant/Deputy Wardens, and the Institutional Head, called the "Warden". Each Region of Canada has a "Deputy Commissioner" who reports directly to the Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada, who is based in the National Capital Region (Ottawa, Ontario).

Employees working at federal penitentiaries are designated as federal Peace Officers under Section 10 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act[2].

Uniformed officers

CSC ranks

Correctional Officer I
Correctional Officer II
Staff Training Facilitator
Correctional Manager
Officer Recruit

A Correctional Officer is an employee of the Public Service of Canada. All CSC Correctional Officers are uniformed and are designated as federal Peace Officers under Section 10 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act[3].

The rank structure in CSC begins at entry as a Correctional Officer I, otherwise known as COI. These officers are responsible for security functions at the institution including patrol, security posts, and escorts.

A Correctional Officer II, or COII, is typically assigned to positions requiring a more senior officer including living units, communications, or visits. Correctional Officers who are specifically designated for Federally Sentenced Women (FSW) are called Primary Workers and have an entry rank of COII.

Once officers move into a supervisory role, which starts at Staff Training Facilitator, the uniform shirt colour is changed from navy blue to light blue.

The Correctional Manager, or CM, is the Institutional Supervisor, and historically had been referred to as the "Keeper of the Keys", or in short the "Keeper". All rank insignia is worn as shoulder epaulettes attached to the shoulder straps of the uniform as either the word "RECRUIT" for officer recruits currently in training, or as 1, 2, 3, or 4 gold bars. Senior rank (worn as epaulettes and typically only present on dress uniforms) are as follows:

Commissioner: Crown, above a crossed key and torch, with three 'towers' displayed below.

Asst. Commissioner: Same as above, but with two towers.

Regional Deputy Commissioner: Same as above, but with one tower.

Uniformed Correctional Officers employed by CSC are unionized with and supported by the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers (UCCO). Grievances filed in relation to potential breaches of the union contract have three appeals. The first level grievance is within the institution, the second level at the regional headquarters, and the third being the national headquarters. If resolution with the management, at the lowest level does not transpire, then some issues may be sent forward to the Public Service Labour Relations Board. The decision of the Board is then legally enforcable and binding on both parties, as it is with all other government departments.

Dress uniforms echo the same rank as displayed above. Each facility has a Ceremonial Unit that represent the Service at formal events across Canada and internationally. Examples of recent events include local and ceremonial parades, funerals, recruit graduations, and national and international commemoration services.

The Ceremonial Unit consists of a Guard of Honour, the CSC Community Pipes and Drums Band and a Ceremonial Guard. Through their activities, the Unit is a proud public face for the Service’s Correctional Officers, Parole Officers, and staff, who play an important role in keeping communities safe for Canadians.

Ceremonial rank structure is as follows, typically worn as epaulettes on the dress uniform shirt and tunic.

National Ceremonial Commander: Three pips centered with crossed key and torch.

National Sergeant Major: Rank positioned on the right sleeve depicting Canada’s Coat of Arms a crossed key and torch encircled by a laurel wreath. Crimson shoulder sash to be worn under strap, over right shoulder and across to left hip.

Regional Ceremonial Commander: Three pips.

Regional Sergeant Major: Rank positioned on the right sleeve depicting the Tudor Crown, a crossed key and torch, encircled by a laurel wreath. Crimson sash worn over the right shoulder and positioned under the right epaulette and right tunic lapel.

Institutional Squad Leader: Two pips.

Institutional Squad (2 i/c): One pip.

Institutional Emergency Response Team

Similar to those of Canadian police forces including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the CSC has formed Emergency Response Teams to support existing security functions. The IERT will respond to situations that require or may require a use of force or a special tactical response. These teams can be established across an entire region or within a single institution, depending on the size. See also Correctional Emergency Response Team

CSC institutions

  • Archambault Institution
  • Cowansville Institution
  • Donnacona Institution
  • Drummond Institution
  • Federal Training Centre
  • Joliette Institution
  • La Macaza Institution
  • Leclerc Institution
  • Montée St.-François Institution
  • Port-Cartier Institution
  • Regional Reception Centre
  • Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines Institution
Collins Bay Institution
  • Edmonton Institution for Women
  • Bowden Institution
  • Drumheller Institution
  • Edmonton Institution
  • Grande Cache Institution
  • Grierson Centre
  • Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge
  • Pê Sâkâstêw
  • Regional Psychiatric Centre
  • Riverbend Institution
  • Rockwood Institution
  • Stony Mountain Institution
  • Saskatchewan Federal Penitentiary

Among the institutions are "healing lodges" for Aboriginal offenders.[12]

Citizens' Advisory Committees

Under section 7 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Regulations and further by Commissioner's Directives CD 023,[13] each institution and parole office must established a Citizens' Advisory Committee (CAC) who are mandated to "contribute to the public safety by actively interacting with staff of the Correctional Service of Canada, the public and offenders, providing impartial advice and recommendations, thereby contributing to the quality of the correctional process." [14]

Each institution and parole office forms the 'local committee' for which the CSC consult with on matters regarding correctional operations, programs, policies, and plans. They in turn participates in the regional committee (Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, Prairies and Pacific) to coordinate initiatives for the region. Finally, the National Executive Committee is made up of the five CAC Regional Chairpersons as well as by the National Chairperson who are responsible for liaison between the committees and the CSC HQ, monitor and review all policies or actions of the CSC at the local, regional and national levels and adopts cohesive stragety for all committees.[15]

All CAC members have, by law, the authority to have reasonable access to every part of the institution/parole office they are attached to, talk with all the staff and offenders or parolee within the organization and access to hearings (if the offender consents).[16] These authorities are given to members once they have their application approved and security clearance approved by CSC National Headquarters.

Year of the Veteran participation

In 2005, the Department of Veterans Affairs had the year designated the Year of the Veteran. At Kent Maximum Security Institution Officer Shane Firlotte submitted a proposal for all Correctional Officers who were also veterans, to be able to wear the Year of the Veteran pin on their uniforms. The Commissioner of Corrections, with the support of the Chief of the Defence Staff, authorized the wearing of the pin, via a national memorandum to all staff, on the left breast pocket until December 31, 2005. This being in recognition of veterans continued service to the Public Service of Canada.

Criticism and controversy

In 2003, the CSC was criticized for its policies for reportedly releasing certain prisoners on a quota system. Scott Newark, a former prosecutor and executive director of the Canadian Police Association, who is now special counsel to the Ontario Attorney General's Office for Victims of Crime, stated that the Correctional Service of Canada is out of control and that "I think Canadians have good reason to be outraged."[17]

Newmark stated that there is a big push in Correctional Services to get more offenders out of penitentiaries and onto the street in what is called "The Reintegration Project." Although this policy is cheaper than keeping convicts imprisoned, Newark's office contends convicts are being shoved out the door to meet a release quota. Newark stated that he had obtained documents to prove this, including memos, minutes, and confidential Corrections correspondence, and an internal memorandum talk about setting a "goal of a 50/50 split of offenders between institutions and the community."[17]

Lawrence MacAulay, who was the Solicitor General in charge of the CSC when the documents were written, denied that there were any quotas, stating that: "There are no quotas. There never was... If anybody has the idea of a quota, they forgot to check with the minister." However, shortly after this interview, MacAulay resigned and Wayne Easter took over as solicitor general.[17]

An internal Corrections audit reported that parole officers are overwhelmed. A senior union official said some parole officers, especially in cities, have caseloads of 40 or more instead of the recommended 18, and as a result, they are unable to do all of the crucial collateral checks in the community, such as talking to employers, landlords, neighbours and other family members.[17]

Police officers have also complained that when parole violators are apprehended, they are often immediately re-released back on parole. Officer Greg Sullivan, who is part of a team that tracks down parole violators, criticized the CSC, stating that "It gets really frustrating especially when you see violent offenders who are out several times over and we've gone after them two and three times in an eight- month period."[17]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Contact Us." Correctional Service of Canada. Retrieved on December 21, 2009. "National Headquarters 340 Laurier Avenue West Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0P9"
  3. ^ Johnson, N. (2011). Prison Reform in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Prison Society. Retrieved on: 2011-09-08.
  4. ^ Johnson, D. Kingston Penitentiary and the Auburn Approach, in "Prison Architecture." Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved on: 2011-09-09.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Correctional Service of Canada. Penitentiaries in Canada. Retrieved on: 2011-09-08.
  6. ^ Correctional Service of Canada. History of the Canadian Correctional System. Retrieved on: 2011-09-09.
  7. ^ a b Roberts, J and D. Cole (1999). Making sense of sentencing. 147. University of Toronto Press.
  8. ^ "Corrections in Canada: An Interactive Timeline". Correctional Service of Canada. Retrieved 2011-07-19. 
  9. ^ "Correctional Service of Canada". Correctional Service of Canada. Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ "Fact Sheet Research from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency" (PDF). The National Council on Crime and Delinquency. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  12. ^ "Healing Lodges For Aboriginal Federal Offenders." Correctional Service of Canada. Retrieved August 15, 2010.
  13. ^ Commissioner's Directive
  14. ^ The CAC Mission
  15. ^ The CAC System
  16. ^ CCRR
  17. ^ a b c d e Easy Out: Catching those on the lam, CTV News, Apr. 22 2003.(retrieved on August 15, 2008)

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