location: publications / books / Justice Behind the Walls / Sector 1 / Chapter 2 "Good Corrections": Organizational Renewal and the Mission Statement

The CSC, in its official literature, sees the introduction of unit management and the dissemination of the Mission Document as having changed the nature of staff-prisoner relationships, from one based upon "authority" to one of "interaction." In the words of one warden:

Relations between staff and inmates are characterized less by power and authority than they were a few years ago; instead they are oriented towards contact of a professional nature. The control that we exercise over the inmates is now being experienced more as the helping relationship we are trying to create.

A team approach to case management, in which the expertise of specialists is augmented by the assessments of correctional officers, certainly helps to improve the quality of the work with the inmate and increases the understanding of correctional intervention . . . The principal party concerned, the inmate, is constantly involved in the process. Inmates are normally present at discussions and receive a copy of the reports written on their case. Such a practice fully corresponds with a policy of openness which the Correctional Service is trying to apply. In addition, this openness in our procedures accurately reflects the spirit of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. (In this regard, we can even assert that the Mission and the policies of the correctional service harmonize so well with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that they constitute its extension in penal and correctional matters.)

We consider our approach to dealing with the inmates to be proactive in nature. We lead the way for them by helping them choose an appropriate path -- their correctional treatment plan; by sharing with them our opinions and expectations; and by indicating the possible consequences of their behaviour and attitudes. This new approach contrasts favourably with our practice of a few years ago which was more reactive . . . Generally speaking, the living and work atmosphere inside penitentiaries is more pleasant, and less strained than previously -- evidence of improved relations between staff and inmates. ( Our Story at 153-56)

Unit management is the front line of CSC's model of correctional management. Correctional institutions, from the super-maximum-security Special Handling Unit to community-based correctional centres, are linked through a corporate hierarchy of regional and national headquarters. Canada is divided into five regional areas, and for each region there is a Regional Deputy Commissioner to whom the wardens of institutions within the region report; the Regional Deputy Commissioners in turn report to the Commissioner of Corrections, who heads operations at national headquarters. Within national headquarters there is a management team which includes the Senior Deputy Commissioner, a Deputy Commissioner for Women, and five other assistant commissioners responsible for different divisions (for example, correctional operations and programs, performance assurance, and corporate services).

There is a third part to the "reorganization and renewal" of the Correctional Service of Canada in the 1990s. As well as producing the Mission Document and introducing the unit management structure, the CSC also adopted as the basis for its correctional programming a cognitive model of correctional intervention:

Our overall strategy focuses on programs that not only change behaviour, but also ensure that beliefs and attitudes change so that the change is more durable. The strategy focuses on the personal development of offenders so that they may acquire the skills and abilities required for the pro-social adaptation necessary for successful reintegration as law-abiding citizens . . .

The cognitive model attempts to teach offenders how to think logically, objectively and rationally without over-generalizing or externalizing blame. It is based on methods of changing the way offenders think because their thinking patterns seem to be instrumental in propelling them towards involvement in criminal activities. The model, a fairly recent innovation in correctional treatment, is founded on a substantial body of research indicating that many offenders lack a number of cognitive skills essential for social adaptation. For example, many lack self-control, tending to be action-oriented, non-reflective and impulsive. They often seem unable to look at the world from another person's perspective. They act without adequately considering the consequences of their actions. They are lacking in inter-personal problem-solving, critical reasoning and planning skills. The end result is that offenders become caught in a cycle of thinking errors -- the situation that programs based on the cognitive model attempt to change. ( Our Story at 70)

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