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location: publications / books / Justice Behind the Walls / Sector 4 / Chapter 4 The Task Force on Administrative Segregation 1996-7 / The Preliminary Findings of the Task Force and the Compliance Audit

The Preliminary Findings of the Task Force and the Compliance Audit

The initial audits and visits to the institutions yielded significant findings for the Task Force on Segregation.

The findings of the preliminary assessment (Phase I) confirmed Madam Justice Arbourís findings that the CSC did not fully appreciate the obligation to rigorously comply with legislative and policy provisions in its management of administrative segregation. Overall, CSC staff members and managers demonstrated a casual attitude towards the rigorous requirements of the law, both in terms of their understanding of the law and their sense of being bound by it.

The compliance shortcomings that were observed were both systemic and significant. The Task Force recorded the following:

  • Formal documentation indicated that the CSC had segregated inmates for reasons that did not meet legislative criteria . . .

  • Time frames governing the one hour of daily exercise, the three-day written disclosure notice, and the five- and thirty-day hearings, were more likely to be seen as "guidelines" than mandatory regulatory provisions requiring compliance. Inmates were not well informed of their legal rights and privileges with respect to administrative segregation procedures and conditions of confinement.

  • the CSC was not sufficiently aware of Aboriginal rights under the law, such as access to Spiritual Leaders and Elders, Native Liaison Workers, sacred and cultural items, and spiritual ceremonies (e.g., sweat lodges).

  • the CSC provided insufficient access to programs and recreational activities, and its policy regarding access to personal effects was inconsistently applied across regions.

  • the CSC often failed to keep accurate records of all the events concerning the administrative segregation of inmates, and, as a result, often failed to demonstrate legal compliance. This problem was compounded by information collection and management deficiencies relating to OMS [the electronic filing system].

In the opinion of the Task Force, the above compliance issues provided sufficient evidence of a casual attitude towards the demands of the law by CSC staff members and managers to justify Madam Justice Arbourís assertion that the CSC has a culture that does not respect the "Rule of Law." That is not to say that CSC staff members and managers went out of their way to act in violation of the law; but it is to say that they did not go sufficiently out of their way to ensure full understanding of and compliance with it. The Task Force concluded that review mechanisms required to ensure legal compliance and to support effective decision making were not in place. ( Task Force on Administrative Segregation: Commitment to Legal Compliance, Fair Decisions and Effective Results [Ottawa: Correctional Service of Canada, March 1997], pp. 12-13. Online [last modified: October 22, 1997])

Based on the findings of Phase 1, the Task Force launched several initiatives to address the areas of non-compliance. All wardens were required to submit detailed action plans outlining the steps they intended to take to deal with the deficiencies identified at their institution. Changes were made to the electronic filing system (OMS) to enable staff to document decisions taken at key stages in the administrative segregation review process. The Task Force also issued an administrative segregation process checklist to staff and management and a handbook to be given to all segregated prisoners. Finally, in order to answer all questions raised by the institutions, the Task Force and the CSCís Legal Services department issued a consolidated document entitled "Administrative Segregation: Answers to Most Frequently Asked Questions."

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