Government announces new rules to fight contraband in correctional facilities and restrict use of dry cells
May 5, 2023
The Government of Canada is committed to a correctional system that keeps communities safe while rehabilitating offenders and preparing them for reintegration into society. A central part of this work is ensuring a safe and secure environment for staff and inmates at federal correctional institutions.
The Minister of Public Safety, the Honourable Marco Mendicino, today announced proposed regulations to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act that would limit the use of dry cells and improve the search and seizure of contraband in federal correctional institutions.
Most significantly, these proposed regulations would restrict the use of dry cells. A dry cell is a detention cell without conventional plumbing fixtures that allows for close monitoring of the individual while awaiting the expulsion of contraband. A new framework would specify when dry cells can be used, limit the duration of dry cell detention and improve the monitoring of the physical and mental health of those detained. It would also expand the collection of data on the use of dry cells, to better inform decisions going forward.
These regulations, including the cap on dry cell placement, are a direct response to recommendations from the Office of the Correctional Investigator. They have also been informed by the advocacy and policy proposals of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, John Howard Society and the Elizabeth Fry Society.
The proposed regulations also provide direction surrounding the use of body scanner searches in federal correctional institutions. The addition of body scanner technology to the Correctional Service of Canada’s search and seizure tools is an efficient way for the agency to detect contraband that is located on, or inside, an offender’s body. These new regulations would also be monitored, evaluated and improved as needed.
Today’s announcement builds on a Ministerial Direction issued last year that strengthened oversight on the use of dry cells while the proposed regulations continued to be developed. The proposed regulations will be open for public consultation through the Canada Gazette, Part I beginning tomorrow, Saturday, May 6, 2023.
“The safety and security of Canadians is our government’s top priority. A central part of this is maintaining an effective and equitable correctional system. The introduction of contraband into correctional institutions remains a pervasive threat to the safety of staff, inmates and even the individual introducing it. This new and rigorous framework will improve search and seizure tools, restrict the use of dry cells and create a safer environment for everyone.”
- The Honourable Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety
“Being placed in a dry cell is the most restrictive and degrading form of confinement in our prisons, and today we are announcing new regulations to put conditions on their use respecting the need to ensure public safety while also maintaining fundamental human rights. I am pleased that Correctional Services Canada is moving forward with these regulations, and look forward to their implementation.”
- Pam Damoff, MP for Oakville North-Burlington and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety
Bill C-83, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, received royal assent in 2019, which created a framework for the use of body scan search technology to be used in federal correctional institutions, and set the stage for the development and implementation of the proposed regulations announced today.
In support of this initiative, CSC launched a pilot project in summer 2022 introducing body scanners as part of a commitment to improving search capabilities and assist in the identification and seizure of contraband.
CSC employs several approaches and tools to prevent the entry of contraband into institutions and works to improve these measures ensure a safe and secure environment. CSC also works in partnership with the law enforcement to take action against those who attempt to introduce contraband into correctional institutions.
Office of the Minister of Public Safety
Public Safety Canada
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