Government of Canada introduces legislative changes addressing issues in the federal corrections system
An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA) and the Abolition of Early Parole Act (AEPA) was tabled today
June 19, 2017
Public Safety Canada
Today, the Government of Canada introduced legislation to restrict the use of administrative segregation and strengthen Canada’s federal correctional system. The new legislation and regulations that will follow will increase accountability, transparency and oversight around the use of administrative segregation. This is an important step in ensuring that Canada’s federal correctional system is effective, accountable and transparent, and that it helps inmates as they work towards rehabilitation and reintegration into society as law-abiding citizens.
For the first time, there will be a legislative framework that establishes a presumptive time limit for inmates confined in administrative segregation.
Under the current CCRA the Correctional Service of Canada must always release the inmate at the earliest appropriate time. Eighteen months after the legislation comes into force, there will be a presumption that an inmate must not remain in administrative segregation longer than 15 days, subject to security and safety concerns and there being no reasonable alternative. For the eighteen months prior, the presumptive limit will be 21 days.
Also for the first time, the legislation would provide independent external review of cases of inmates kept in administrative segregation beyond the presumptive release date, and for those who have, in the last calendar year, been in administrative segregation at least three times or for 90 cumulative days.
The Bill proposes to amend sections of the CCRA and the AEPA to make them consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This would include the reinstatement of an offender’s right to an oral hearing by the Parole Board of Canada following a suspension, termination or revocation of parole or statutory release, and would indicate that offenders who committed an offence (who met the criteria for accelerated parole) before March 28, 2011 are eligible for accelerated parole review.
This legislation is part of a series of measures that include commitments in Budget 2017 of $57.9 million over five years, and $13.6 million per year thereafter, to be used to expand mental health capacity for all inmates in federal correctional facilities. In addition, funding of $65.2 million over five years and a subsequent $10.9 million a year will be used to help reverse the trend of Indigenous over-representation in Canada’s criminal justice system and to help previously incarcerated Indigenous Peoples heal, rehabilitate and find good jobs. Together these investments and this new legislation will provide support to the most vulnerable people in federal correctional institutions.
“We are committed to ensuring that federal correctional institutions provide a safe and secure environment for staff and inmates; and which are conducive to rehabilitation. While significant work has already been done, we recognize that there is much more to do. The proposed reforms and investments in the Budget 2017 will help divert mentally ill offenders from administrative segregation and improve the conditions under which inmates in segregation are confined. Together this represents an important step in addressing the needs of the most vulnerable in the federal correctional system.”
- The Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
The amendments to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act provide for a comprehensive review of the legislative and regulatory reforms to the administrative segregation regime five years after they take effect.
This bill aims to reform administrative segregation practices in federal correctional system. Administrative segregation is used when there is no reasonable alternative to maintain the safety and security of the institution, staff and inmates. This is different from disciplinary segregation which is applied to inmates who are found guilty by an Independent Chairperson of a serious disciplinary offence within the penitentiary.
Proposed reforms and investments in Budget 2017 will improve the conditions of confinement for inmates in segregation, including allowing inmates out of their cell for two hours a day, allowing them daily showers and providing personal effects in their cell within 24 hours. These changes would be reflected in the regulations.
In addition to the proposed legislation, the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) is amending its policy to prohibit administrative segregation for inmates with serious mental disorders with significant impairments, those who are certified (according to the provincial/territorial mental health act) and those who are actively engaging in self-injury or are at elevated or imminent risk of suicide.
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For more information, please visit the website www.publicsafety.gc.ca.
Office of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Public Safety Canada
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