Commissioner Anne Kelly responds to Auditor General report on federal offenders
OTTAWA, ON, May 31, 2022
OTTAWA, ON, May 31, 2022 /CNW/ - Anne Kelly, the Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC), issued the following statement on an Auditor General of Canada report tabled in Parliament today:
"I would like to thank the Auditor General of Canada for her report and recommendations on ways we can remove barriers faced by Indigenous and Black offenders serving federal sentences. The report also provides recommendations on improving the diversity and inclusiveness of CSC's workforce.
I have accepted all of the Auditor General's recommendations and our management action plan outlines the concrete actions we are taking, including timelines. This includes working to validate our security classification processes and strengthening our oversight, addressing the delivery and timeliness of correctional programs to support the safe release of offenders, and continuing to increase the diversity and inclusivity of our workforce.
In response to the audit, CSC will undertake a validation exercise of the Custody Rating Scale (CRS) for Black men offenders and a revalidation for women and Indigenous offenders, in collaboration with external experts. CSC has also begun an arm's-length initiative to develop an Indigenous-informed security classification process, from the ground up, to ensure it is gender-informed and culturally relevant for Indigenous peoples.
We will continue to provide correctional programs focused on addressing each offender's needs. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on program delivery, we continue to focus on ensuring programs are delivered in a timely way, before an offender is eligible for parole release. We are also examining additional program delivery options, such as virtual correctional programming.
CSC remains committed to developing and maintaining a strong, inclusive, and diverse workforce that not only reflects the Canadian population, but also the populations we serve. Although CSC has historically exceeded workforce availability (WFA), in 2021, we established our own workforce representation objectives that continue to exceed WFA, but better reflect the offender population. CSC will also review its gender representation objectives and staffing ratios across women's institutions and healing lodges by the end of March 2023.
The disproportionate overrepresentation of Indigenous and Black offenders in our criminal justice system, including corrections, requires us to look at systemic barriers and also openly discuss the issue of systemic racism. We must constantly work to closely examine our underlying practices, policies and programs to see how they may lead to inequities and make changes accordingly. This is something I take very seriously and while we have taken a number of steps, more work is required.
I have made it a priority to build an anti-racist, respectful, diverse, and inclusive organization. In support of this, we have developed an Anti-Racism Framework and Actions, with a focus on three pillars: employees, offenders, and stakeholders. We also have training in place to support staff, including topics such as anti-racism, unconscious bias, Indigenous culture, and cultural competency.
The rate of admissions to federal custody of Indigenous peoples continues to grow, as it has been for the past 10 years. To support relationships with Indigenous peoples and achieve coordination to address this important issue, both within the criminal justice system and more broadly, I am in the process of staffing a Deputy Commissioner for Indigenous Corrections position.
While there is more work to do, I believe that we are on the right path to addressing the recommendations put forward by the Auditor General. It has been a challenging few years for many of our staff on the frontline of the pandemic, but we continue to make important progress to support positive outcomes for all offenders, including Indigenous, Black, and other racialized Canadians in our correctional system."
CSC has the following results for offenders not re-admitted to federal custody within five years following the end of their sentence. Outcomes have continued to improve since 2018-19. The following data is for 2020-21:
CSC continues its work to improve outcomes for Indigenous and Black offenders and has implemented a number of initiatives, including:
OAG Audit Report and CSC's Response
SOURCE Correctional Services of Canada