The Correctional Investigator's Millennium Report
The Correctional Investigator's 1998-99 annual report provided an overview
of systemic issues detailed in previous reports; it identified specific
areas of concern associated with each of these issues and presented a
series of recommendations designed to address them.
In October 1999, the Office of the Correctional Investigator signed a
Memorandum of Understanding with the Correctional Service of Canada. The
memorandum was intended to provide "a structure for interaction between
the two agencies during the course of the OCI's investigations into offender
concerns." To this end, it set out procedures to ensure that "the CSC
provide accurate information in a timely manner to the OCI in response
to requests which stem from matters under the OCI's jurisdiction" and
that "timely corrective action in relation to valid offender concerns
is taken by the CSC."
In order to bring "closure" to the issues raised and recommendations
made by the Correctional Investigator, the parties agreed "to attempt
resolution on points on which agreement has not been achieved"; disputes
could be referred to "mediation, facilitation, non-binding arbitration
or other alternative dispute resolution mechanism" (Memorandum of Understanding
between the Office of the Correctional Investigator and the Correctional
Service of Canada, October 1999. Appendix A, Report of the Correctional
Investigator 1999-2000 [Ottawa: Public Works and Goverment Services Canada,
2000]. Online ).
If the Memorandum of Understanding was expected to bring a new responsiveness
on the part of the CSC to the CI's recommendations, that expectation was
quickly dashed. The CI's first report of the new millennium proved to
be one of the most damning in the twenty-seven years of the Office's existence.
Although progress has been made on a number of issues,
I am quite frankly disappointed in the results of the Service's efforts
to address these systemic areas of concern. While I believed last year
that our agencies had come to an agreement on what needed to be done to
begin addressing these issues, the Service's undertakings appear to have
been overwhelmed by a bureaucratic process of excessive review, consultations
and endless study . . .
I stated in my Annual Report a decade ago that "the
Correctional Service of Canada is a direct service agency whose policies
and decisions impact directly and immediately on the offender population.
There is a need, and an urgent need for the Service to take steps to ensure
that its review and decision-making processes, especially at the national
level, are capable of responding and resolving issues in a timely fashion
. . ."
The concerns of the offenders tend to be forgotten
at times during the review of these issues . . .
The positive impact on the offender population of
the Service's efforts to address these systemic issues over the past year,
I suspect, has been negligible. ( Annual Report
1999-2000 at 5-6)
In relation to the inmate grievance process, the report acknowledged
significant improvements in the system's operations over the years but
identified three remaining areas of concern.
- continuing instances of excessive delay in responding at the institutional
and regional levels of the process.
- the non-acceptance by senior management of the responsibility and
accountability for specifically addressing offender concerns as recommended
by Madam Justice Arbour; and
- the effectiveness of the current procedure in addressing the concerns
of Female and Aboriginal offenders. ( Annual
Report 1999-2000, p. 11)
The report also commented on the Service's own characterization of "improvement".
In terms of delays in responding last year, the Service
indicated that 48 per cent of the grievances at the regional level were
late. We are advised that this year 33 per cent of the regional level
grievances were late. Although this is an improvement, having one in three
grievances responded to outside of the established timeframe, a timeframe
which has been extended by fifteen working days, is unreasonable and does
little to promote offender confidence in the process. ( Annual
Report 1999-2000 at 11)
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