The Correctional Service of Canada (French: Service correctionnel du Canada), or CSC, is a Canadian government agency responsible for the incarceration and rehabilitation of convicted criminal offenders.
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 thereby accountable to the public via the Parliament.
The current Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada is Don Head, who held this post since June 27, 2008 and previously served as Senior Deputy Commissioner from 2002 until June 2008.
The Correctional Service of Canada only has jurisdiction over offenders in Canada for court-imposed sentences greater than 24 months (two years).
There are two types of court-imposed sentences:
A determinate sentence is a sentence with a completion date (example five years, seven months), called a "Warrant of 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 National Parole Board 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'.
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 (IPO) within institutions, and by community parole officers in the community. The National Parole Board 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, 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).
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
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 color 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.
Presently, 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 the issue is 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.
In 2005, the Department of Veterans Affairs had the year designated the Year of the Veteran. At Kent Maximum Security Institution 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 continued service to the Public Service of Canada.
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 to 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."
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 obtains 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."
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.
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.
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."