Chapter 11: Corrections In Canada: History, Facilities, and Populations
• Canada’s correctional system was established in the early 1800’s in Ontario with the
opening of Kingston Penitentiary.
• In 2003, there were 186 correctional facilities, 70 federal and 116 provincial and territorial.
• The Adult Correctional Population in Canada Today
• In 20052006, sentences for violent crimes were most common in Nunavut, the NWT and
• For property crimes, the highest rates were found in both Ontario and British Columbia.
• Other Criminal Code offences such as failure to comply with an order were most common
in Saskatchewan and Alberta.
• Males accounted for the vast majority of admission (94%).
• The highest rates of females sentenced to provincial or territorial facilities were found in
Saskatchewan and Alberta.
• Highest rates of Aboriginals sentenced to custody in a territory were found in Nunavut.
• Highest provinces for Aboriginal people was Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
• European Antecedents to the Modern Prison
• The first institutions that resembled prisons emerged in Europe during the 17 and 18
• Three major changes during the century dramatically influenced how most Western
Societies would run their correctional facilities:
• Philosophical shift away from a punishment of the body (such as flogging and torture)
toward punishment of the mind.
• Many people felt that punishments should deprive people of their liberty instead of
physically punishing them.
• In 1794, Pennsylvania became the first state to permanently abolish the death penalty for
all criminal offences except for 1 degree murder.
• The second major change involved the passing of laws that made it illegal to imprison
anyone who has not been convicted of a crime.
• This led to the segregation of criminals from society.
• The courts began to hand out sentences involving terms of imprisonment as opposed to
• First criminal prison in Europe opened in Amsterdam in 1654.
• The biggest change occurred in the age of Enlightenment.
• Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham had the biggest impact.
• Beccaria argued that some punishments were evil and would never do any good.
• Punishments should be swift because that would result in the greatest amount of
• Punishments should not be overly severe.
• Bentham believed in the greatest good for the greatest number of people. • He believed that people are motivated by pleasure and want to avoid pain and that a
proper amount of punishment can deter crime.
• Bentham designed plans for a prison known as a panopticon.
• It was circular with a glass roof and a window in each cell, which made it easy for the
workers to observe the prisoners. There would be solid walls so the prisoners couldn’t talk
to each other.
• A Brief History of Federal Correctional Facilities in Canada
• 1832 first federal prison was built in Kingston.
• The first prisons in North America were built in the United States.
• The Pennsylvania system reflected a strong Quaker influence: inmates were isolated not
only from the outside, but from one another.
• They had one hour a day to exercise by themselves in an outside yard and they were
expected to spend the rest of their time in their small cells reading the Bible, provided for
them, reflecting on their illegal crimes.
• Another style of prison was built in Auburn, New York.
• The Auburn system held inmates in what is known as the congregate system.
• This system was based on the best way for inmates to reform their actions was through
• During the day, inmates would work together, but weren’t aloud to talk.
• Prisoners ate together, but also in complete silence.
• When they weren’t eating or working, they were in their cells.
• A different prison architectural style characterized the Auburn system.
• The Pennsylvania prison was built on one floor; the Auburn system had a number of floors
with cells divided into tiers.
• The Auburn system, originally built between 1819 and 1823 quickly became the most
copied style of prison and ultimately was considered to be the international prototype of a
maximumsecurity prison, and the basis for Canadian prisons.
• The first prisons built in Canada were built by Provincial authorities.
• The first of these was completed in 1835 in Kingston, followed by New Brunswick in 1841
and Nova Scotia in 1844.
• In 1868, the federal government took over these institutions and build more throughout the
• While the Canadian authorities followed the Auburn model, Pennsylvania system
continued to survive in solitary confinement.
• For the rest of the 19 century, the federal governments ran their prisons in a very harsh
• Conditions were harsh, discipline is extreme, and solitary confinement regularly used up.
• At the beginning of the 20 century, major changes were made.
• Parole was introduced, correction officials began to receive training, and inmate
classification systems were developed.
• Inmates began to be housed on the basis of their needs and crimes, which lead to the minimum, medium and maximum security.
• Treatment of inmates improved and educational programs were provided.
• Living conditions continued to be harsh.
• In 1935, federal government decided to change its approach toward the treatment of
inmates because highly educated individuals were taking positions in the correctional
administration, trained specialists were beginning to enter the administration as
management workers and psychologists with the goal of correcting offenders, and the
belief that offenders could be corrected was leading to money being given to the
• Gradually, a variety of programs became available for inmates to “cure” their behaviour.
• In 1932 and 1937 numerous riots broke out because of their continued harsh conditions.
• Fauteux Report popularized the word corrections as it attempted to corrct the antisocial
attitudes and behaviours of individuals.
• This report recommends different programs and security classifications.
• Suggested liberalizing the parole process, automatic review of parole, increase use of pre
sentence reports, and the creation of a National Parole Board.
• In 1963, the medical model began to decline as it was replaced by the reintegration model.
• This approach favoured community based correctional facilities, which reflects the justice
model of corrections, which maintains that inmates must be protected from harmful actions
by the correctional officers through the introduction of legal rights of inmates.
• The dominant approach today emphasizes the increased use of community resources, the
assessment of offenders risks and needs when entering a correctional facility, and the
creation of individual programs addressing those risks and needs.
• A Brief History of Federal Corrections For Women
• The earliest prison for women in Canada was located within Kingston pen.
• The original design called for separate units for male and female inmates, but the first two
female inmates were placed in the infirmary.
• Female inmates were viewed as an inconvenience by prison administrators.
• Construction of a separate institution for female inmates was not begun until 1914.
• This facility was known as the Prison for Women (P4W) and it was built within the walls of
the male prison in Kingston.
• Construction of a completely separate prison for women began in 1925.
• When it was completed in 1934, it was designated as a maximum security prison.
• No outside windows were built into the walls, all letters were censored, and there were no
• Reports of sexual abuse and harsh living conditions led many reformers to demand that
conditions be improved.
• Female offenders are different than male offenders and should have different programs
offered to them.
• Between 1995 and 1997, the federal government opened new women’s facilities across
Canada. • When the new women’s facilities opened, they were all put together no matter what their
security level was, but due to a number of incidents, they began to be classified as
medium and maximum security risks.
• A Brief History of Federal Corrections for Aboriginal People
• Aboriginal people make up about 4% of Canada’s population, yet the account for 18% of
federal custodial sentences.
• In the 1990’s the federal government entered into agreements with Aboriginal communities
and organizations relating to correctional services.
• Since this time, at least 8 healing lodges for aboriginal offenders have been established.
• Aboriginal offenders are addressed through aboriginal teachings and ceremonies with an
emphasis on spiritual values in order to assist aboriginals and their successful
• The first healing lodge was opened in 1995 in Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, for use by
female aboriginal offenders.
• Since then, seven more healing lodges have been opened for aboriginal men.
• In 1999 the federal government opened the first healing lodge within the walls of a
correctional facility in Winnipeg.
• Only those with a medium security clearance can travel to the healing lodges.
• The Role of Correctional Institutions in Canadian Society
• Since correctional facilities were first introduced, three general models of correctional
facilities have emerged to describe the different ways of thinking about them:
• The custodial model based on the idea that prisoners are incarcerated for the purpose of
incapacitation and deterrence. All decisions are made in the context of maintaining
maximum security and discipline. There is tight control over inmates and this model was
the first to emerge, and the early prisons built in Canada reflected this style of thinking and
• The rehabilitation model emphasis on individualized treatment, Concerns about safety
and control are secondary to the well being of inmates. Treatment programs are available
for inmates in order for them to change their criminal behaviour. This model was popular in
the 1950’s but that began to fade in the 70’s.
• The reintegration model Correctional facilities attempt to prepare inmates for reintegration
with society. Help work on specific needs and risks so that they will not engage in criminal
behaviour once they leave. Most influential in Canada today.
• Security Levels
• The major objective of correctional institutions is confinement.
• Security level is determined by the likelihood that an inmate will attempt an escape, will put
others in danger, and the likelihood of the prisoner to violate prison rules.
• Maximum security facilities are usually surrounded by high fences or walls guarded by
towers at strategic points. • Parts of the facility are separated by gates, fences and walls and inmates are usually
required to have special permission forms when they are moving between sections.
• Maximumsecurity prisons usually have educational programs and various skill
• Mediumsecurity prisons are typically enclosed by chain linked fences topped with