Working with Black offenders ‘inside’ and out

Let's Talk: Sharing the stories and voices of CSC
Multicoloured background with three speech bubbles with profiles of each liason inside.
Three new officers successfully pilot culturally appropriate community reintegration.

Meet Correctional Service Canada's (CSC's) African Canadian Reintegration Officer: Lacey Lozier

Profile of a woman of African-Indigenous descent
Lacey Lozier works with Black Offenders in the Atlantic Region

“Why don’t we have more culturally specific services for Black offenders?” wondered Lacey Lozier in 2013. At the time, she was facilitating Indigenous programs at Springhill Institution in Nova Scotia as a correctional program officer.

Statistics showed that Indigenous programs have better outcomes for that population. Lacey, who is of Indigenous and Black heritage, believed that culturally responsive services for Black offenders would also be successful. Eight years later, in October 2021, she became the African Canadian Reintegration Officer with the mandate to connect offenders with culturally responsive services to increase the success of this vulnerable population’s reintegration.

This was the first such position at Correctional Service Canada (CSC's). It started as a pilot project over two years ago in Atlantic Canada, but the successes Lacey reported subsequently led to the creation of two similar positions in other regions.

"My main goal is to provide culturally responsive services to help Black offenders, who are overrepresented in the criminal justice system," said Lacey. "The position gives me a bird’s eye view with boots on the ground because I do go into the institution and meet with offenders."

She noted that this includes the women’s institutions and structured intervention units. Lacey works with institutional staff, parole officers, and community organizations to build support to help ease offender rehabilitation and reintegration. She helps facilitate unescorted temporary absences, which is an opportunity for offenders to build community networks before going to their parole board hearings. She said her job is to make sure they are prepared to go back into the community.

Lacey also liaises with senior management and attends Ethnocultural Correctional Intervention Board meetings once a month where she works with the Case Management Team to “move the ethnocultural cases forward, whether it is to a lower security level or preparing them for release."

One of the main goals of the role is to help individuals reconnect with their families and their communities.

"These guys all have moms, wives, and kids, like we do. When fathers are missing from the home, the family suffers from that. We want to reunite them with their loved ones with the best outcomes possible." 

The overrepresentation of Black people in federal penitentiaries was highlighted in the Office of the Correctional Investigator’s 2020–2021 report. This came on the heels of the intense global reaction to the murder of George Floyd in the United States, drawing attention to the bias, discrimination, and systemic racism inherent in society. Police and other first responder services, organizations, and governments of all levels took a hard look at their own cultures and practices and took steps to make significant changes. CSC's did the same.

Maxime Kalifa Sanou, senior project officer with CSC’s Citizen Engagement Directorate, noted how proactive the Atlantic region was at implementing initiatives for Black offenders.

"Because of the deep history with Black folks in the Atlantic Region, they were well positioned to identify the specific needs of Black offenders. I'm not surprised they came up with this idea first. Then, Lacey gave a presentation on her position at a meeting with the Commissioner and the National Ethnocultural Advisory Committee (NEAC),” Maxime said. "They really liked what she was doing and the success she was having. Other regions also wanted to look into that position."

Meet CSC's Black Offender Liaison Officer: Ramon (Snowy) Noble

Profile of a man of African descent smiling
Ramon (Snowy) Noble is the liaison officer between Black offenders and the community/institutions in the Alberta/NWT Parole District.

“We do recognize that the Black offender population is overrepresented in our correctional system, and in that overrepresentation, they're also underserved,” said Ramon (Snowy) Noble.

Snowy is the Black Offender Liaison Officer in the Prairie region who is helping to change that.

He took on the role in December 2022, working in the Alberta/Northwest Territories Parole District. Snowy was a chaplain with CSC's for 22 years, working at Drumheller Institution and the Edmonton Institution for Women. His years of experience and the connections he built with individuals and organizations in the community made him ideally suited for this liaison role.

Like Lacey, Snowy meets with offenders in the institutions and community and advises their parole officers about his visits and the things he sees that they need, such as housing, employment, and reconnecting with their families.

As the individual gets closer to their release back into the community, Snowy approaches various community groups and services to coordinate a positive support network. He also liaises with the individual’s family to prepare them for their return.

Snowy noted that he works with people from diverse backgrounds, including immigrants and refugees, so he often helps the released individual reconnect with their culture.

“I think the key is looking at them as people who come from somewhere and they carry with them their history, their life.”

Meet CSC’s Ethnocultural Reintegration Officer: Lori-Anne Beckford

Profile of a woman of African descent
Lori-Anne Beckford works in the community to assist reintegration of offenders

Lori-Anne Beckford is the Ethnocultural Reintegration Officer working on behalf of Ontario’s RHQ but primarily in the Central Ontario District. Her role is different from Lacey and Snowy. She doesn’t work directly with Black offenders in the institutions but serves the people already living in the community. She explained this is mainly because the Black offender population is significantly larger in Ontario with over 1,100 offenders, 400+ are on release in the community, compared to the other two regions.

“At this time, I'm more focused on working with and helping to identify community supports to assist with the correctional release–reintegration planning,” said Lori-Anne, who started the position in December 2022. “I find community supports that can offer support for the folks already in the community and I get them connected.” Lori-Anne noted that some staff in the Central Ontario District developed the Black Social History Pilot Project. This case management tool, created by and for staff in 2016, was launched across the Ontario Region in 2022. It is intended to help staff working with Black offenders to determine the supports they need ‘inside’ and out in the community.

“This is a best practice that gives staff an additional tool to understand Black social history. All parole officers are trained in the tool. Staff are being asked to consider the specific social history of the Black offenders that they're working with, consider the issues and concerns they have and come up with specific cultural services”, she said.

Lori-Anne noted that because Parole Officers have received support in utilizing this tool, she doesn’t do as much direct contact with offenders before they are released. Nevertheless, her role is to assist in helping to operationalize “Phase 2” of the Black Social History guidance document, wherein she identifies the cultural services needed and/or desired by the offenders and their Parole Officers.

All three officers noted their position is a step in the right direction to address the inequities Black offenders face.

Lori-Anne summed up their commitment: 

“I've just always wanted to be responsive in regard to the Black people that I work with in helping to strengthen communities overall, and to really strengthen CSC in terms of us being a responsive organization and really meeting our mandate, our mission, and our corporate priorities.”

CSC is committed to building an anti-racist, diverse and inclusive organization. An Anti-Racism Framework was launched in 2021 that outlines actions across the organization, including employees, offenders, and stakeholders. In 2022, CSC also committed to developing a Black Offender Strategy and is actively working with other government departments on initiatives to address over-representation of Black people in the criminal justice system. These pilots are important building blocks of determining how CSC will move forward.

Let's Talk

Let’s Talk is a publication of Correctional Service Canada (CSC). Let’s Talk shares stories new and old of the people and programs at CSC. These stories provide an engaging window into how CSC fulfills its mission of contributing to public safety and assisting in rehabilitation. Let’s Talk is your home for informative articles, podcasts, and videos about CSC.

Follow us

Connect online

icon FaceBook   icon LinkedIn   icon Twitter/X   icon YouTube

Correctional Service Canada logo
Canada logo

Page details

Date modified: