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Chapter 10-11

SOC209H5 Chapter Notes - Chapter 10-11: Penitentiary Act, Prison Overcrowding, Life Skills

Course Code
Philip Goodman

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Correctional Institutions
Griffiths Chapter 10
Correctional institutions have always been a source of curiosity and controversy
because most Canadians have never experienced it and only know as much as the
media portrays.
Historical Foundations
In pre-Confederation Canada, imprisonment was not used for the specific purpose of
punishing offenders. It was to hold offenders who were awaiting trial
There was extensive use of the death penalty and many other sanctions that were
imposed in public and were designed to shame and humiliate the offender
Early 1800s, lower and upper Canada established local jails and workhouses
These facilities were plagued by poor management, foul conditions, lack of
separation of men, women, and youths, and general chaos
Canada’s first penitentiary was built in 1835 in Kingston, Ontario based on
blueprints provided by officials in New York. It was the United States that the
widespread use of imprisonment as a form of punishment emerged
1900s, the government began passing legislation to improve the conditions in
correctional institutions
Creating Correctional Communities
Late 1900s, there was shift in thinking about how federal correctional institutions
should be designed and operated
The intent of these initiatives was to replicate, within the institution, the spaces and
types of activities that inmates would encounter upon their release back into the
Structure of Institutional Corrections
Corrections services and facilities are generally divided into “custodial” and “non-
Non-custodial services include bail supervision and probation, temporary absences
from institutions, provincial and federal parole, and statutory release
In Canada, the responsibility of corrections is shared between the federal, provincial,
and municipal (only deals with local police lockups) levels of government
The basis for the split in correctional jurisdiction is the two-year rule: an offenders
who receives a sentence (or consecutive sentences) totaling two or more years falls
under the jurisdiction of federal corrections, whereas an offender whose prison
sentence totals less than two years is the responsibility of the provincial corrections
Federal Corrections
Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) has three levels: national, regional, and
institutional (or district)
The mission of the CSC is to contribute to the protection of society by encouraging
and assisting offenders to become law-abiding citizen
CSC has five regional headquarters that administer the system’s maximum, medium,
and minimum-security institutions.
A General Profile of Custodial Populations
Incarcerated offenders tend to have the following characteristics, they are:

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o Men
o In their thirties
o Convicted of a property offence
o Single
o Parents
o Marginally skilled
o Disproportionately Aboriginal
o Disproportionately Black
o Substance-addicted
o Suffer mental impairment
The Escalating Costs of Institutional Corrections
Although the number of offenders in custody has remained stable over the past
decade, the costs of housing inmates has been rising
Average cost of confining a federal male offender is $250 a day ($91,250 per year)
Average cost of confining a federal female offender is double, $500 a day ($182,500)
Despite having invested over $400 million in renewing correctional institution
infrastructure, the costs of confining inmates in Ontario continues to increase and is
the highest among the provinces/territories
Largest portion of correctional budgeting is for staffing
Managing Correctional Institutions: A Challenging Job
Challenges include:
o Overcrowding
Public pressures to be more tough on criminals affects legislation and
sentencing patterns
In 2008, provincial institutions in Ontario were operating at 100%
capacity and 11 of them were over at 135% capacity
This affects daily prison life by heightening tensions among inmates
and between inmates and correctional officers
In federal institutions, about 25% of the inmates share cell space when
it should be one person per cell, this leads to inmate-on-inmate assault
o Ensuring Inmate Safety
Corrections officials required to ensure safety of inmates, especially in
federal maximum security
Recent years, number of high-profile incidents, including murders of
inmates by fellow inmates
o Inmate Gangs
Originate in the community but import their affiliations and tactics
into correctional institutions
1/6 federal inmates affiliated with gang or organized crime
o Communicable Diseases and Prevention Strategies
Infection rates alarmingly high
Nearly 2% of federal inmates are HIV positive, a rate 10 times that of
the general Canadian population
Transmitted through anal sex (not common)
The primary cause is drug use and sharing syringes and needles

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Also commonly transmitted through pens, pencils, and wire
instruments used by inmates for body piercing and tattoos
To reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS, all federal correctional institutions
and many provincial facilities are providing inmates with condoms
and bleach kits
On the Line: Correctional Officers at Work
Although warden directs overall operations of the prison, the correctional officers
have the most daily contact with inmates
o Recruiting and Training of Correctional Officers
o Officer-Inmate Relationships
Inmates may use variety of tactics to manipulate the officer, so new
officers must learn to “read” the inmates
Must become familiar with the intricacies of the inmate social system
and various scams inmates get involved in
Research shows correctional officers are more punitive, less
empathetic, less supportive of rehabilitation
o Occupational Stress
Stress includes safety concerns, inadequate training, shift work, and
vague/unrealistic administrative policies
Critical incidents in prison, disturbances, riots, hostage-takings,
inmate murder, self-mutilation can result in officers experiencing
posttraumatic stress disorder
Female correctional officers may experience forms of sexual and
psychological harassment
Doing Time: The World of an Inmate
Through a series of status degradation ceremonies, the offender is psychologically
and materially stripped of possessions that identify him or her as a member of the
free world
These possessions are replaced with an identification number, prison-issue clothing,
and list of institutional rules and regulations designed to control every aspect of life
inside the prison as well as the inmate’s conduct with the outside world
Process in which status of offender is transformed from “citizen” to “inmate” is
Note that there are no “status restoration ceremonies” when an offender has
finished their sentences
All inmates have to find ways to cope with the pains of imprisonment: loss of
security, autonomy, contacts with family and friends, and independence
Common feature of all correctional institutions in the existence of inmate social
system, which is centered on the inmate code which has rules such as do your own
time; don’t rat on other inmates; don’t trust anyone; don’t weaken and don’t whine;
be tough, be a man; don’t be a sucker
Suicide and Self-Injurious Behaviour
Inmates have different ways of coping with daily pressures in prison, some resort to
self-mutilation and suicide as an escape
Suicide rate double that of the general public
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