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Families of Offenders
Policy and Practice in Corrections
Legal and policy
General principles
Engaging the
family in the
family need
Elements of
practice with
Staff selection and
Resources for
service providers
Families of Offenders
Policy and Practice in Corrections
Lloyd Withers, Editor.
With written contributions by Norma Antoine, David Champagne, Gordana Eljdupovic,
Veronica Felizardo, Phill Ferris, Jean Folsom, Susan Gilger, Dorma Grant, Norman
Gardipy, Christina Guest, Darlene Haines, Scott Harris, Corina Hayward, Teresa
Kellenconk, Chris Kroeker, David Larocque, Eric Lawson, Maggie MacLean, Arn Main,
Elizabeth Martin, Wayne McCrackin, Eric Michael, Bonnie Misener, Don Misener, Terry
Richardson, Ross Toller, VISA Team, Lloyd Withers, Darlene Wood and Angela Wright.
March, 2007
By Ross Toller, Assistant Commissioner, Correctional
Operations and Programs, Correctional Service of Canada.
It is with great pleasure that I commend the present guidelines to the attention of the
correctional community.
Because we all have families, we know the crucial role that families play in the life of
every person. For better or worse, our families contribute to shaping who we become and how
we deal with what comes our way in life. As one of the key building blocks of any society, the
family can provide structure and accountability that help individuals find their place in the world.
Our family is often ‘there’ for us when no one else is.
Offenders are no different from other members of society in this respect. They arrive in
our institutions, serve their time and re-enter our communities as but one member of a much
broader network of relationships. By definition their family relationships precede, and in most
cases outlast, any involvement a person may have with the criminal justice system.
CSC Chaplaincy has taken the lead in highlighting this aspect of CSC’s Mission,
identifying families - along with voluntary sector agencies, faith communities and correctional
staff – as potential sources of support and accompaniment, during both incarceration and
The level of support for these guidelines, however, reaches far beyond
Chaplaincy, as witnessed by the joint sponsorship of the present guidelines by all branches
within the Correctional Operations and Programs Sector.
Since CSC has identified families as one of the seven dynamic factors contributing to
reintegration success, the present guidelines will assist it to look more intentionally at how to
optimize the involvement of family members in carrying out its mandate throughout sentence
management. By adopting an approach that endeavours to help offenders maintain their family
ties and treat families as a potential asset, CSC can help ensure that offenders are not left on their
own to find their way back into a productive relationship with their community.
Families of Offenders
Policy and Practice in Corrections
Foreword. By Ross Toller. .................................................................................5
Introduction. By Terry Richardson...............................................................11
Part I. Legal and policy framework................................................................15
CSC's Approach to Families of Offenders. By Christina Guest ................... 15
1. Canadian Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA) ................. 16
2. Correctional Service of Canada’s Mission ................................................. 16
3. Definition of Family ...................................................................................... 17
4. Placement and Transfers.............................................................................. 17
5. Reasonable Contact ...................................................................................... 22
6. Case Management......................................................................................... 23
7. Temporary Absences .................................................................................... 29
8. Aboriginal Programming ............................................................................. 35
9. Women Offenders ......................................................................................... 35
10. Other CSC Obligations .............................................................................. 36
Part II. General principles...............................................................................37
Restorative justice and service points to families of offenders.
By Lloyd Withers. ......................................................................................... 37
Support - Accountability Matrix ................................................................. 43
Support to Families as Crime Prevention .................................................. 51
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process ............................55
Introduction. By Lloyd Withers. ...................................................................... 55
Correctional Staff............................................................................................... 57
Families of minorities - A Pacific Region concern. By Chris Kroeker..... 57
A “family-friendly” environment. By Darlene Haines ............................. 58
Families and Willow Cree Healing Lodge. By Eric L. Michael. ............... 60
The Family member as Substitute Decision Maker: Implications
Involving Incarcerated Offenders. By David Champagne and
Veronica Felizardo .................................................................................... 63
Consent to Disclose. By Dorma Grant......................................................... 70
Preliminary Assessments / Post-Sentence Community Assessment.
By Darlene Wood....................................................................................... 73
Palliative Care and the family of the offender. By Angela Wright .......... 74
Preparing offenders with a mental disorder for release to the
community: Social Workers and families working together.
By David Champagne and Veronica Felizardo ...................................... 76
Aboriginal Liaison Officers and Elders........................................................... 80
Aboriginal Families. By Norma Antoine and Norman Gardipy................ 80
Involving families of Aboriginal Offenders. By David Larocque ............. 82
Chaplaincy .......................................................................................................... 83
Family notification of the death of an inmate. By Lloyd Withers. ........... 83
Working in partnership. By Maggie MacLean........................................... 86
Maintaining boundaries with families. By Teresa Kellendonk................. 87
Information for families. By Arn Main, Chaplain ..................................... 88
Involving families in Chaplaincy programs and services.
By Eric Lawson.......................................................................................... 90
Chaplaincy and incarcerated fathers. By Wayne McCrackin .................. 91
Transportation and volunteer accompaniment for families visiting at
Port-Cartier Institution. By Elizabeth Martin ........................................... 93
Private Family Visits. By Phill Ferris .......................................................... 96
Other contractors............................................................................................... 97
Establishing a continuum of care for families of offenders.
By Lloyd Withers....................................................................................... 97
Part IV. Assessing family need......................................................................105
The parenting roles of incarcerated mothers.
By Gordana Eljdupovic.............................................................................. 105
Incarcerated Fathers. By Lloyd Withers and Jean Folsom........................ 109
Restorative justice in cases of family violence.
By Scott Harris............................................................................................ 112
Families as the original 'circle of support and accountability.'
By Lloyd Withers. ....................................................................................... 116
Aboriginal Liaison Officers and Elders Working with Families.
By Corina Hayward.................................................................................... 147
Families of sex offenders. By Elizabeth Martin and the VISA team. ........ 152
Mother-Child Program. By Susan Gilger. ................................................... 154
Part V. Elements of correctional practice with families
By Bonnie Misener and Don Misener. ........................................................... 159
Part VI. Staff selection and evaluation.........................................................179
Staff selection and evaluation. By Bonnie Misener and Don Misener....... 179
Staff Training. By Lloyd Withers.................................................................. 182
Part VII. Resources for service providers
By Susan Gilger................................................................................................ 185
1. Aboriginal Families .................................................................................. 186
2. Basic Resources For Families .................................................................. 187
3. Chaplaincy................................................................................................. 188
4. Voluntary Sector Organizations ............................................................. 190
5. Family Services ......................................................................................... 193
6. Health......................................................................................................... 199
7. Human Rights ........................................................................................... 201
8. Justice System ........................................................................................... 202
9. Other resources......................................................................................... 204
References .......................................................................................................205
Appendix .........................................................................................................211
A. Memorandum of Understanding ............................................................... 211
By Terry Richardson, Director-General, Chaplaincy Branch,
Correctional Service of Canada.
“No man is an island.” (John Donne, 17th century)
The family can be understood as the original ‘circle of support’. One’s family of origin
contributes greatly to one’s identity and well-being, no less than the family one builds in the
course of a lifetime. Good, bad of indifferent, family is part of who we are.
Unfortunately, breakdown in family relationships can be both a factor contributing to the
conditions that lead to criminal behaviour and a result of the harm caused by criminal behaviour
and involvement in the criminal justice system. While it is estimated that 15% of direct victims
are family members or significant acquaintances, a much higher percentage of offenders’
families are harmed or victimized by the collateral consequences of incarceration on the family,
the stigma attributed to them in the community and their efforts to maintain contact while the
person is incarcerated.
Separation from family members is a reality with which most offenders live. They may
experience great sadness at not 'being there' to participate in raising their children; they may feel
very lonely without their spouse/partner. They may also live with a lot of guilt about not being
able to support their family financially and knowing the circumstances in which their loved ones
now live. Offenders may particularly feel regret about this on occasions like birthdays and
anniversary and during holidays that usually see families getting together in the community.
Some relationships end at reintegration because either the offender or the family is unsuccessful
For some families the offending by their family member, the nature of the offence or the
fact that the offence was committed against a family member, stress their resources beyond their
ability to sustain the relationship, and families sometimes choose to have limited or no contact
with the offender. Over the years, offenders may develop strong and meaningful relationships
at renegotiating a workable coexistence after the person’s release.
with people other than their biological family members. Recognizing this, CSC’s working
definition of ‘family’, borrowed from the work of the Canadian Families and Corrections
Network, is a group of individuals who are related by affection, kinship, dependency or trust.
When families of offenders are recognized and supported by the correctional system and
society as potential assets, they can play an important role in how well the offender adapts to
incarceration, without compromising the good order of an institution, and contribute to the
success of an offender's conditional release. However, the dynamics at work in the interrelationships between offenders, their families and correctional staff are complex and present
significant challenges. It is difficult for family members to trust correctional staff, who exercise
such complete control in the life of their incarcerated family member. Families often fear that
any information they share may negatively impact them or the treatment of their incarcerated
family member. They live with the reality that they are often viewed by correctional staff and by
the community only within the context of the offender and the offence. They live with the
stigma of guilt by association and may be seen exclusively as a risk to the correctional process,
rather than as a potential asset.
Historically, CSC Chaplaincy has taken the lead in addressing the needs of families
beyond the contact afforded through institutional Visits and Correspondence. In the absence of
explicit guidelines for interventions by staff on the part of the Service, the latitude afforded
chaplains and their commitment to seeking restorative justice approaches to those harmed by
criminal behaviour have constituted a non-systematic response in the absence of financial
designated resources. As CSC takes a more intentional look at its interventions with families and
their role in the successful reintegration of offenders, we must remain particularly aware that this
will only be possible through a partnership with family members, by engageing them as part of
the process and providing the information and assistance that only CSC can.
The present practice guidelines represent CSC’s response to one of the recommendations
contained in A Strategic Approach and Policy Document to Address the Needs of Families of
Offenders (Withers, 2003, p. 13) submitted to the CSC by the Canadian Families and Corrections
Network in June 2003:
2.5.3: Guidelines for Practice -Chaplains, Native Elders and Native Liaison Officers.
It is recommended that the Chaplaincy Branch, CSC, develop guidelines for
practice related to services to families as a guide to both Chaplaincy Teams and the
line and functional supervisors of Chaplains. This includes screening for training,
experience and ability to provide services to families as a component in the
Chaplaincy Selection Process. It is further recommended that the CSC's Aboriginal
Sector develop similar guidelines for practice, screening and training for Native
Elders and Native Liaison Officers.
The recommendations were generated by a consultation process carried out across
Canada involving family members, voluntary sector agencies that provide services to families
and correctional staff; and then evaluated and prioritized by the CSC Working Group on
Families of Offenders. In its consultation with voluntary sector agencies that provide services to
families, the Working Group recommended that the guidelines also address the interventions of
the other staff members who have most direct and frequent contact with families: correctional
officers and parole officers.
Because they are members of society and members of families, offenders are not and
cannot be effectively dealt with as isolated individuals. CSC cannot successfully achieve its
mandate of encourageing offenders to be law-abiding citizens if it does not take into account the
importance and the impact of these primary relationships in the lives of those in its care and
custody. The relationship support mechanisms described in the present guidelines are designed
to assist staff in their contact with whoever the offender identifies as ‘family’ to be positive
contributors to the correctional mandate.
Part I. Legal and policy framework
CSC's Approach to Families of Offenders. By Christina
Guest, Project Officer, Chaplaincy Branch.
The guidelines itemize practice and procedure expectations for Institutional and
Community Parole Officers, Correctional Officers, Chaplains, Aboriginal Elders, and Native
Liaison Officers and takes into account the contract or employment status of each group.
The guidelines are based on current research, the CFCN’s Strategic Approach and Policy
Document to Address the Needs of Families of Offenders; information from the Coordinator
Family Support project and the family-based reintegration project at Frontenac and Montée
Saint-François and from the Visitor Resource Centres in the Ontario Region.
consultation was also provided by the Joint CSC-Voluntary Sector Working Group on Families
of Offenders and various experts in the field, both CSC and non-CSC, with respect to research
and methods of interventions or approaches to families affected by incarceration and
reintegration for inclusion in the Practice Guidelines.
CSC’s obligations toward families of offenders are contained in the overall mandate of
step of managing offenders’ sentences: from decisions around placement, to factors that
determine correctional plans and guide case management, to community contacts within the
institutions and in the community, to transfers and parole supervision. In addition, specific
obligations accompany the CSC’s management of Aboriginal Offenders and Women Offenders.
These obligations are articulated in the Canadian Charter of Human Rights, the
Corrections and Conditional Release Act, Corrections and Conditional Release Regulations,
CSC Mission statement, Commissioner’s Directives, Standard Operating Practices and
corresponding guidelines.
Part 1. Legal and Policy Framework
assisting the rehabilitation of offenders and their reintegration into the community and at every
1. Canadian Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA)
2. Correctional Service of Canada’s Mission
3. Definition of Family
4. Placement of Offender
5. Reasonable Contact
6. Case Management
7. Temporary Absences
8. Aboriginal Programming
9. Women Offenders
10. Other CSC Obligations
Part 1. Legal and Policy Framework
1. Canadian Corrections and Conditional Release Act
CCRA 3 The purpose of the federal correctional system is to contribute to the maintenance of a
just, peaceful and safe society by (a) carrying out sentences imposed by courts through the safe
and humane custody and supervision of offenders; and (b) assisting the rehabilitation of
offenders and their reintegration into the community as law-abiding citizens through the
provision of programs in penitentiaries and in the community.
CCRA 4(e) Offenders retain the rights and privileges of all members of society, except those
rights and privileges that are necessarily removed or restricted as a consequence of the sentence.
2. Correctional Service of Canada’s Mission
Core Value 1 – We respect the dignity of individuals, the rights of members of society and the
potential for human growth and development.
Guiding Principles:
We believe that respecting the rights of all concerned individuals to be informed participants in
the correctional process contributes to the quality of the process and the decisions made.
We recognize the value of family and community relationships.
Core Value 2 – We recognise that the offender has the potential to live as a law-abiding citizen.
Guiding Principles:
We recognise that the establishment and maintenance of positive community and family
relationships will normally assist offenders in their reintegration as law-abiding citizens.
3. Definition of Family
The definition of “family” in CD 772 is awaiting final approval: “Family” is considered a group
of individuals who have established close familial bonds demonstrated by affection, kinship,
dependency or trust.
For Aboriginal inmates, extended family members include family relations that exist by birth as
well as significant others who are not related by birth but are given the title of grandparent,
parent, brother, sister, aunt, uncle or other relative. (CD 702(13))
4. Placement and Transfers
CCRA 28 … the Service shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that the penitentiary in which
the person is confined is one that provides the least restrictive environment for that person,
taking into account … (b) accessibility to (i) the person's home community and family;
CD 704 International Transfers
Documentation Requirements for the Transfer of Foreign Offenders to Canada
A transfer application package will be comprised of the information (and specific documents
where applicable) as set out below
c. family data: name, address and relationship of family members and close relatives in the
receiving country
e. case history: family and social background, criminal history (FPS), medical summary
(medical and psychiatric needs), institutional adjustment, security requirements, and future
correctional needs.
CD 705 Intake Assessment Process
25. Security classification procedures will be implemented to assign to each offender a
minimum, medium or maximum security classification based on an assessment of the offender’s
static and dynamic factors. (Note that Family support constitutes one of the dynamic factors
and is discussed further under Case Management, below.)
Part 1. Legal and Policy Framework
International transfers are discussed in Annex B to CD 704 as follows:
26. Security needs, programming, cultural and linguistic needs, proximity to home community
and family, along with institutional adjustment, escape risk and public safety ratings will be
considered in all placement decisions.
CD 705-1 Preliminary Assessment
14. The Preliminary Assessment interview involves:
b. entering into the Offender Management System (OMS), the offender’s next of kin and
emergency contacts.
Details are provided Annex B in CD 705 as follows:
CD 705 -1 Preliminary Assessments
Annex B – Post-Sentence Community Assessment Content Guidelines
5. Based on information provided by the contacts:
Parole Officer’s assessment of:
The offender’s childhood including whether the family unit had a negative or
positive influence on the offender;
6. Temporary absences and private family visits (as applicable)
Family eligibility and interest in participating in private family visits.
Concerns with respect to family violence (current or past relationships).
The offender’s past and present marital status, parenting responsibilities.
Part 1. Legal and Policy Framework
Parole Officer’s assessment of:
The value the contact places on family and the value the offender places on
The family dynamic;
The relevance of UTAs and PFV program, including reporting and supervision
requirements, type and frequency of contacts.
7. Police or other official information
- Specific information from police or other official information pertaining to family violence
and the existence of any restraining orders.
CD 705-7 Security Classification and Penitentiary Placement
31. A placement recommendation is included in the same Assessment for Decision covering
the security classification decision. When recommending a placement institution, the choice
of institution will be the one that provides the least restrictive environment for the offender,
taking into account, but not limited to, the following factors:
d. accessibility to the offender's home community and family.
CD 710-2 Transfer of Offenders
12. Offenders are placed and transferred to the least restrictive security level as appropriate for
the safety of the public, staff members and offenders and the security of the penitentiary.
Additional considerations for transfer include: accessibility to the person's home community
and family, a compatible cultural and linguistic environment, and the availability of appropriate
programs and services and the person's willingness to participate in those programs.
36. Institutional Parole Officer/Primary Worker reviews the transfer application, considering:.
c. accessibility to the person's home community and family, a compatible cultural environment,
and a compatible linguistic environment.
Annex C of CD 710-2 provides the following details:
Assessment for Decisions for Transfers (For Aboriginal offenders only)
Provide a description of the offender’s social history. Identify and analyze how the following
factors have impacted on the offender’s criminal behaviour and should be considered in the
transfer decision:
effects of residential school system (offender as survivor or intergenerational effects from
sixties scoop;
family or community history of suicide;
family or community history of substance abuse;
family or community history of victimization;
family or community fragmentation;
level of connectivity with family/community;
60. Inter-regional transfers are usually initiated:
a. to provide the offender access to his or her home community, a compatible environment or to
facilitate a confirmed release plan. In such cases, an up-to-date Community Assessment
confirming positive community support must be available.
Part 1. Legal and Policy Framework
family’s historical experiences);
CD 710-5 Judicial Review
Annex A of CD 710-5 provides the following details:
Content Guidelines for the Parole Eligibility Report
Summary of Offender’s Social, Family and Criminal Background
Basic Personal Information
The offender’s date and place of birth, and type of upbringing. Discuss issues within the
family, and within the greater home community of the offender, such as, product of child
welfare system, suicide, family violence/sexual abuse and substance abuse. Include
Aboriginal Social History, factors include effects of residential school (offender as
survivor or intergenerational effects from family’s historical experiences), sixties scoop,
family or community history of suicide, substance abuse, victimization, experience in
child welfare system, level or lack of formal education, level of connectivity or
fragmentation with family/ community, loss or struggle with cultural/ spiritual identity,
experience with poverty, exposure or membership affiliation with gangs, etc.;
Parents’ names, ages, residence, employment, relationship with the offender;
Information regarding the offender’s siblings.
Marital Status
Offender’s marital status (single, married, separated or divorced);
The spouse’s name;
Number of children; and
Offender’s present relationship to both spouse and children.
Part 1. Legal and Policy Framework
Summary of Offender’s Performance and Conduct
Family/Community Contacts while Incarcerated:
Discuss the offender’s attitude towards family and other community support, visits
received, participation in the Private Family Visiting Program, correspondence and the
current family situation. Indicate the type of community, Indian Reserve or a rural/urban
setting, to which the offender intends to return, as well as its’ current dynamics (e.g.,
CD 717 Community Assessments
5. A Community Assessment Report is completed where:
d. information is required for an inter-regional transfer, international transfer, escorted
temporary absence, unescorted temporary absence (72 hours or less), private family visit,
and/or work release not involving nightly returns to the community-based residential
Annex A of CD 717 contains the following Community Assessment Content
Offender's New Source of Support or Community Assessment Update
3. Offender’s relationship with the contact or significant others
Parole Officer’s assessment of:
The nature of the relationship between the offender and contact
The impact of the contact’s extended relationship with the offender during incarceration
or at time of release
The degree of support the contact is prepared to offer to the offender regarding his/her
reintegration in the community (in the present and in the future), as well as reliability of
the information obtained
The offender’s social network
The offender’s relationship with peers or significant others
4. Contributing factors
Based on information provided by the contact where relevant:
The offender’s childhood including whether the family unit had a negative or positive
influence on the offender
5. Police or other official information
Specific information from police or other official information pertaining to family violence
and the existence of any restraining orders
4. Information related to the request
Issues related to family violence
Information obtained from Social Services that indicate concerns for the security of
children (if relevant)
Information on any medication that the contact will bring with him/her in the institution,
or specific goods (for example: powdered milk, food or diapers for babies)
NOTE: If not already initiated by the institution, the completion and signature of forms
CSC/SCC 530 and 531, as well as required photographs, should be obtained from the
participants. The rules and regulations of the Private Family Visits Program should also be
explained to the participants.
Part 1. Legal and Policy Framework
Private Family Visits
5. Reasonable Contact
CCRA 71(1) In order to promote relationships between inmates and the community, an inmate is
entitled to have reasonable contact, including visits and correspondence, with family, friends and
other persons from outside the penitentiary, subject to such reasonable limits as are prescribed
for protecting the security of the penitentiary or the safety of persons.
CD 085 Correspondence and Telephone Communication
1. (Policy Objective) To encourage inmates to maintain and develop family and community
ties through written correspondence and telephone communication, consistent with the principle
of protection of the public, staff members and offenders.
15. Access to telephones, through an inmate telephone system, should be provided, on a fair and
consistent basis, to help maintain family and community ties and to provide a direct link with
families in the event of an emergency.
18. Telephone communication is a part of the overall program of reintegration into the
community, similar to visits and temporary absences.
19. Telephone calls for humanitarian purposes, such as illness, death in the family, or birth of a
child, shall normally be provided without delay.
CD 770 Visiting
Part 1. Legal and Policy Framework
1. (Policy Objective)To provide the mechanisms by which inmates can be encouraged to develop
and maintain positive community and family relationships that will assist them to prepare for
reintegration as law-abiding citizens.
22. Eligible inmates shall be offered the opportunity to participate in private family visiting.
Private family visiting is intended to support the development and delivery of family
programs in the institution and to provide inmates with the opportunity to use separate
facilities where they may meet privately with their family to renew or continue personal
23. All inmates are eligible for private family visiting except those who are:
a. assessed as being currently at risk of becoming involved in family violence;
b. in receipt of unescorted temporary absences for family contact purposes;
24. Persons eligible to participate in private family visiting shall include spouse, common-law
partner, children, parents, foster parents, siblings, grandparents, and persons with whom,
in the opinion of the Institutional Head, the inmate has a close familial bond, provided they
are not inmates. Inmates are not eligible to participate in private family visits with other inmates.
27. For eligible inmates for whom visitors do not meet the criteria outlined in paragraphs 24
and 25 above, the Institutional Head shall consider other persons from the community as eligible
to participate in private family visiting where there is evidence that a significant relationship
has developed during the inmate's current period of incarceration. This consideration shall be
based on the recommendation of the responsible case manager that the relationship is suitable,
stable, and beneficial to both parties.
35. Visitors and eligible inmates shall be advised of all rules and regulations governing private
family visiting, prior to the commencement of visits.
36. The private family visits shall be withdrawn only for as long as the risk that justified the
withdrawal of the private family visit(s) continues.
The Private Family Visiting Program provides eligible offenders and visitors with
extended private visits within the institution to enable them to foster personal
relationships in home-like surroundings. The program is more than a conjugal visiting
program as it seeks to enhance the offender's capacity to pursue his/her Correctional
To encourage offenders to develop and maintain family and community ties in
preparation for their return to the community and to lessen the negative impact of
incarceration on family relationships.
All offenders are eligible for private family visits except those who are:
assessed as being currently at risk of becoming involved in family violence;
in receipt of unescorted temporary absences for family contact
The following family members are eligible to participate in the program: spouse,
common-law partner, children, parents, foster parents, siblings, grandparents and persons
with whom, in the opinion of the institutional head, the offender has a close familial
bond, provided they are not inmates. Inmates are not eligible to participate in private
family visits with other inmates.
Commissioner’s Directive 770, Visiting, defines “common-law partner” and addresses
other persons who may qualify for a private family visit. It should be stressed that CD
770 sets out minimum criteria which must be met before a Private Family Visiting
Program can be approved. The burden of proof for meeting these minimum criteria rests
with the offender and his or her visitors
In preparing recommendations to the institutional head with respect to Private Family
Visiting Program participation, the Correctional Officer II shall consider the eligibility
of the offender and the proposed visitor(s), in conjunction with the value to the offender
of maintaining ties with that person(s).
Part 1. Legal and Policy Framework
SOP 700-12 Private Family Visits
6. Case Management
CD 700 Correctional Interventions
1. To assist offenders to become law-abiding citizens by recognizing them as individuals in their
own right and actively encourageing them to resolve their personal and social problems and to
achieve their fullest potential.
12. Immediate Family includes the offender’s father, mother (or alternatively stepfather,
stepmother, or foster parent), brother, sister, spouse (including common-law spouse), child
(including child of common-law spouse) stepchild or ward of the offender, father-in-law and
13. For Aboriginal offenders, extended family members may include family relations that exist
by birth, as well as significant others who are not related by birth, but are given the title of
grandparent, parent, brother, sister, aunt, uncle or other relative.
14. Step-parents include one who is married to the biological parent of the child (adult) who
has assumed the role of parent following the marriage. To be considered a step-parent, one must
be, or have been, in the role of parent who provides the necessities of life to the child.
32. Decision makers, when exercising discretion involving an assessment of family
relationships, must understand and honour the extended family relationships of Aboriginal
Part 1. Legal and Policy Framework
SOP 700-06 Community Supervision
[…] The Parole Officer must also develop a variety of techniques to ensure that he/she is
aware of the offender's circumstances and response to interventions. Community visits,
including home visits, and a network of collateral contacts are an essential component of
good supervision.
When interventions are no longer necessary, the Parole Officer must continue to gather
information on the behaviour of the offender from a variety of sources, such as his
family, employer and police.
Continuity in monitoring is essential from the beginning of the sentence to the end. To
achieve that, the focus must remain on the contributing dynamic factors, taking into
consideration factors which do not contribute to delinquency but which require
structure and guidance in order to enhance the potential for reintegration and ensure
consistency in the involvement of all the significant caseworkers.
The Community Strategy is a logical continuation of the Correctional Plan Progress
Report formulated in an institution. It must determine the way in which the various
dynamic factors identified as problematic will continue to be addressed in the
community, and the way in which the offender will be monitored.
Note: The Parole Officer’s task is to "actively encourage and assist the offender to
become a law-abiding citizen." The Correctional Plan Progress Report must have a clear
focus by addressing only those offender needs associated with the risk of re-offending
and those necessary to encourage safe reintegration.
The majority of contacts with the offender are to take place in the community (the
offender’s home or place of work).
[…] Although all contacts outside of the office are, by definition, in the community, this
standard is only satisfied through contacts at home, at the work-site, in programs, with
the police, or in locations where the offender’s circumstances may help to reveal whether
progress is being made against the Correctional Plan. […] If the offender resident at a
CBRF spends a good deal of time with a friend, partner or spouse, the residence of that
person should be considered as the offender’s "home".
In usual circumstances, parolees are considered to have given implicit consent for a
Parole Officer to visit their home as part of the normal expectations and practices of
supervision that are explained to them at the outset of supervision.
The Parole Officer must establish a network of community contacts to corroborate
information provided by the offender. The Parole Officer must never rely solely upon
offender self-reported information. Community visits and home visits are another source
of ensuring that the Parole Officer is well aware of the offender's circumstances.
During the reassessment process, it is possible to identify new dynamic factors for
which intervention may improve the chances for the offender's eventual reintegration.
The criteria for reassessing motivation are:
Level of external support from family, friends or other community members;
The manager of the operational unit shall ensure that there is a system in place that
guarantees regular efforts are made to locate an offender at-large. With the agreement of
the police this may involve contact with the offender’s family, known associates, other
government agencies, or other locales where the offender may have made contact. This
effort shall be documented in the Casework Record.
SOP 700-21 Long-Term Supervision Orders
Annex B (Assessment for Decision – Long-term Supervision Orders)
Risk management – Explain how the proposed community strategy will allow (or not allow) the
level of risk to remain acceptable to society and indicate how the proposed special conditions are
necessary for proper risk management. If applicable, identify family violence concerns and how
they will be managed upon release.
Part 1. Legal and Policy Framework
SOP 700-10 Post-Release Decision Process
CD 705 Intake Assessment Process
26. Security needs, programming, cultural and linguistic needs, proximity to home community
and family, along with institutional adjustment, escape risk and public safety ratings will be
considered in all placement decisions.
CD 705-6 Correctional Planning and Criminal Profile
Assessment of Dynamic Factors
50. The identification and analysis of dynamic factors is based on an assessment of each of the
seven domains listed below:
b. Marital/Family - the value placed on being with family and the support one derives from
Note several places in CD 705-6 where family is mentioned as follows:
Part 1. Legal and Policy Framework
Annex A – Criminal Profile Report
Analysis of Criminal Behaviour
Provide a brief analysis of criminal behaviour, including the following:
For Aboriginal offenders, a description of Aboriginal social history. Identify and analyze
how the following factors have impacted on the offender’s criminal behaviour:
effects of residential school system (offender as survivor or intergenerational
effects from family’s historical experiences);
sixties scoop;
- family or community history of suicide;
- family or community history of substance abuse;
- family or community history of victimization;
- family or community fragmentation;
- level of connectivity with family/community;
Family Violence
Note the results of the Family Violence Risk Assessment.
Note any existing protection orders related to family members, including orders under section
810 of the Criminal Code.
Offence Cycle - External Factors:
Crisis situations (personal, financial problems, emotional loss, family, social).
Annex B – Content Guidelines Correctional Plan
- level of external support from family, friends or other community members;
Annex E - Dynamic Factors Analysis
Marital/Family - For this category, a rating of "FACTOR SEEN AS AN ASSET TO
COMMUNITY ADJUSTMENT" indicates that there has been evidence of very positive
relationships and considerable support of either parents, relatives, or spouse. A rating of
"NO IMMEDIATE NEED FOR IMPROVEMENT" indicates that there is evidence of a
satisfying and caring relationship within a marriage and/or family which has resulted in
no current difficulties while in the community. A rating of "SOME NEED FOR
IMPROVEMENT" indicates that there has been evidence of uncaring, hostility,
arguments, fighting or indifference in the marital/family relationships resulting in
occasional instability. A rating of "CONSIDERABLE NEED FOR IMPROVEMENT" is
given if any of the aforementioned have been causing a very unstable pattern of
marital/family relationships.
Attitude - In this category, a rating of "FACTOR SEEN AS AN ASSET TO
COMMUNITY ADJUSTMENT" indicates that there has been evidence of a very
positive attitude and considerable involvement in pro-social activities (e.g., work, school,
family, treatment, supervision).
ANNEX F of CD 705-6 lists the DYNAMIC FACTOR INDICATORS as follows:
Family Cohesion
Childhood lacked family ties?
Mother absent during childhood?
Maternal relations negative as a
Father absent during childhood?
Paternal relations negative as a
Parental InterRelations
Parents relationship dysfunctional
during childhood?
Spousal abuse during childhood?
Sibling Relations
Sibling relations negative during
Part 1. Legal and Policy Framework
Other Relative(s)
Other relative(s) relations negative
during childhood?
Family members involved in crime?
Currently single?
Has been married/common-law in
the past?
Dissatisfied with current
Money problems affect
relationship(s) past/present?
Sexual problem affect relationship(s)
Communication problems affect the
Has been a victim of spousal abuse?
Has been a perpetrator of spousal
Part 1. Legal and Policy Framework
Parenting Skills
Unable to handle parenting
Unable to control the child's
behaviour appropriately?
Perceives self as unable to control
the child's behaviour?
Supervises child improperly?
Does not participate in activities
with the child?
Lacks an understanding of child
Family is unable to get along as a
Child Abuse
Has no parenting responsibilities?
Has been arrested for child abuse?
Has been arrested for incest?
Prior marital/family assessment(s)?
Has participated in marital/family
Has completed a marital/family
intervention program?
CD 712-4 Release Process
Note concern for family in Annex A of CD 712-4 as follows:
Assessment for Decision Content Guidelines Early Discretionary Release (EDR)
Structured Plan for EDR (taking into account the following elements):
Family support with respect to EDR.
7. Temporary Absences
CCRA 116 (1) The Board may authorize the unescorted temporary absence of an offender
referred to in paragraph 107(1)(e) where, in the opinion of the Board… (b) it is desirable for the
offender to be absent from penitentiary for medical, administrative, community service, family
contact, personal development for rehabilitative purposes, or compassionate reasons, including
parental responsibilities;
CCRR 9 includes in the intended purposes of escorted temporary absences: “(d) for family
contact purposes to assist the inmate in maintaining and strengthening family ties as a support to
the inmate while in custody and as a potential community resource on the inmate’s release; (e)
for parental responsibility reasons to allow the inmate to attend to matters related to the
maintenance of a parent-child relationship, including care, nurture, schooling and medical
treatment, where such a relationship exists between the inmate and the child; (g) for
compassionate reasons to allow the inmate to attend to urgent matters affecting the members of
the inmate's immediate family or other persons with whom the inmate has a close personal
CCRR 155 For the purposes of sections 116 and 117 of the Act, the releasing authority may
authorize an unescorted temporary absence of an offender (d) for family contact purposes to
Part 1. Legal and Policy Framework
CCRA 17 (1) Where, in the opinion of the institutional head, (b) it is desirable for the inmate to
be absent from penitentiary, escorted by a staff member or other person authorized by the
institutional head, for medical, administrative, community service, family contact, personal
development for rehabilitative purposes, or compassionate reasons, including parental
responsibilities, …the absence may …be authorized by the institutional head.
assist the offender in maintaining and strengthening family ties as a support to the offender while
in custody and as a potential community resource on the offender's release; (e) for parental
responsibility reasons to allow the offender to attend to matters related to the maintenance of a
parent-child relationship, including care, nurture, schooling and medical treatment, where such
a relationship exists between the offender and the child; g) for compassionate reasons to allow
the offender to attend to urgent matters affecting the members of the offender's immediate
family or other persons with whom the offender has a close personal relationship.
CD 710 Institutional Supervision Framework
45. Temporary Absences and Work Releases provide offenders with opportunities to maintain
family and community ties and avail themselves of rehabilitative activities, with the goal of
safely reintegrating them into the community as law-abiding citizens through a gradual and
controlled release program.
CD 710-1 Progress against the Correctional Plan
8. When meeting with the offender for the structured casework record interview, the Correctional
Officer/Primary Worker will confirm that the offender’s next of kin information is current.
Below are Annexes B and C to CD 710-1 providing further details on assessing progress
against the Correctional Plan.
CD 710-1 Progress against the Correctional Plan
Part 1. Legal and Policy Framework
Annex B - Institutional Progress Assessment
Aboriginal Healing Plan
If a change is warranted, assess the offender’s progress in relation to his or her motivation
using the following criteria:
- Level of external support from family, friends or other community members;
Information Pertaining to Current Request/Situation
Where a Community Strategy is being requested or the CPPR is associated with a release
decision, include the RELEASE PLAN. Address the following information:
- Release details: proposed release destination (where applicable, identify if the offender
wishes to be released under s. 84 of the CCRA), accommodation, employment, family
Annex C - Reintegration Potential and Guidelines for Program Referral
Offenders with High Reintegration Potential
Offenders in this category should not normally require correctional programs (living skills,
substance abuse, family violence, sex offender treatment). If required, these interventions should
preferably be provided in the community. Other correctional interventions, services and work
placements (including employability skills development) may be used, as well as any other risk
management strategies, other than programs, in both institutions and the community.
Offenders with Medium Reintegration Potential
Based on the level of dynamic factors, programming can include institutional correctional
programs combined with maintenance programs in the community; alternatively, programs can
be provided in the community during the period of day parole or program UTA for personal
development prior to full parole release. Provision of correctional programming in institutions
occurs where there is justification based on the offender’s static and dynamic factors, and where
prescribed programs are designed to reduce the risk prior to considering release. Other
reintegration programs, services and work placements (including employability skills
development) may be used, as well as any other risk management strategies other than programs,
in both institutions and the community.
Offenders with Low Reintegration Potential
Correctional programs (living skills, substance abuse, family violence, sex offender treatment)
and other reintegration programming (employment, education, social programs) are to be
provided in institutions prior to release, and continued thereafter in the community as required.
9. Immediate Family: includes the offender’s father, mother (or alternatively stepfather,
stepmother, or foster parent), brother, sister, spouse (including common-law spouse), child
(including child of common-law spouse), stepchild or ward of the offender, father-in-law and
10. Step-parent(s): includes one who is married to the biological parent of the child (adult) who
has assumed the role of parent following the marriage. To be considered a step-parent, one must
be, or have been, in the role of parent who provides the necessities of life to the child.
11. For Aboriginal offenders, extended family members may include family relations that exist
by birth, as well as significant others who are not related by birth, but are given the title of
grandparent, parent, brother, sister, aunt, uncle or other relative. When assessing “significant
others”, as defined above, use the guidelines for assessing “close personal relationship”
contained in Annex C, Guidelines on Compassionate Escorted Temporary Absences to Attend
Part 1. Legal and Policy Framework
CD 710-3 Temporary Absences and Work Releases
1. (Policy Objective) To provide offenders with opportunities to maintain family and
community ties and avail themselves of rehabilitative, employment, personal and cultural
activities, with the goal of reintegrating them into the community and enhancing public safety.
27. Temporary Absences may be granted for the following purposes:
d. for family contact purposes to assist the offender in maintaining and strengthening
family ties as a support to the offender while in custody and as a potential community
resource on the offender's release;
e. for parental responsibility reasons to allow the offender to attend to matters related to
the maintenance of a parent-child relationship, including care, nurture, schooling and
medical treatment, where such a relationship exists between the offender and the child;
g. for compassionate reasons to allow the offender to attend to urgent matters affecting the
members of the offender's immediate family or other persons with whom the offender
has a close personal relationship.
37. ETAs for compassionate reasons will be granted in the following instances unless
information exists that, in the opinion of the Institutional Head, is substantially
unfavourable in terms of the safety of the public or the offender:
a. to attend the funeral of a member of the offender's immediate family (or extended
family for Aboriginal offenders) or other persons with whom the offender, in the
opinion of the Institutional Head, has had a close personal relationship.
b. to visit a person, as described above, who has been declared by a medical practitioner to
be in an advanced stage of a terminal condition resulting from illness or injury;
Part 1. Legal and Policy Framework
65. In cases where two or more offenders have applied for an ETA for family contact with
each other, consideration must be given to whether the contact is part of a realistic,
gradual and planned reintegration.
66. Where two offenders applying for an ETA for family contact are co-convicted or
accomplices, analysis must address the issue of whether or not contact between them will
support one or both offenders in their development as law-abiding citizens. This must be
clearly identified in the Assessment for Decision to support a positive decision.
77. Each UTA granted for administrative, family contact or parental responsibility reasons
must be followed by a 24-hour period in custody before the next such absence, except when
the subsequent UTA is required for medical or compassionate reasons.
Annexes A and C to CD 710-3 are provided below.
CD 710-3 Temporary Absences
Annex A –- Frequency and Duration Limits
Unescorted Temporary Absence – Administrative, Family Contact, Parental Responsibility,
and Compassionate
A maximum total per month of:
48 hours for offenders classified as medium security
72 hours for offenders classified as minimum security
Specific Personal Development Program
Up to a maximum of 60 consecutive days; may involve, but is not limited to one or
more outings per week, or include a specific number of hours per outing, in order to
facilitate attendance/participation in such activities as:
family violence counselling sessions.
Annex C – Guidelines on Compassionate Escorted Temporary Absences to
Attend Funerals
The following guidelines are intended to ensure the humane treatment of offenders by allowing
them, to the extent possible, to attend the funerals of certain individuals. The guidelines will
assist the case management team and the decision-makers in determining:
a. if there was a close personal relationship between the offender and a deceased who was
not an immediate family member; and
b.the significance of any security or case management information that might be
unfavourable to the absence.
For the purpose of these guidelines, "immediate family" is defined as father, mother (or
alternatively stepfather, stepmother, or foster parent), brother, sister, spouse (including
common-law spouse), child (including child of common-law spouse) stepchild or ward of the
offender, father-in-law and mother-in-law.
For Aboriginal offenders, extended family members may include family relations that exist
by birth, as well as significant others who are not related by birth, but are given the title of
grandparent, parent, brother, sister, aunt, uncle or other relative.
For the purposes of these guidelines, a "close personal relationship" between two individuals
is normally characterised by situations in which:
a. both individuals shared a close familial bond; of the individuals contributed significantly to the moral or spiritual development of
the other;
c. both individuals were engaged in a long-term living arrangement or partnership;
d.both individuals shared significant life experiences that resulted in an enduring bond of
friendship and trust.
Establishing Close Personal Relationship:
The evaluation of the relationship between the offender and the deceased must take into
consideration the individual's cultural, ethnic or spiritual background.
Evidence of a close personal relationship can come from a variety of sources, including:
Part 1. Legal and Policy Framework
a. information provided by individuals;
b. accounts from various individuals, including the offender, may be used to
determine the nature of the relationship with the deceased. Chaplains and
psychologists are among those who should be considered as principal resources in
determining the relationship between the offender and the deceased;
c. timely notification of death;
d. survivors of the deceased initiated contact with the offender and disclosed details
of the funeral in a timely manner that would allow arrangements to be made for
the offender's attendance;
e. file material;
f. pre-sentence or pre-trial reports, Post-Sentence Community Assessments,
information about the offender's family and social history or any other report or
g. Community Assessments completed pursuant to notification of death;
h. statements from credible persons who have a first-hand knowledge of the
relationship between the offender and the deceased. Special effort should be
made to contact individuals who may be able to clarify the cultural, spiritual or
ethnic significance of the relationship of the offender to the deceased, particularly
leaders of the offender's religious or ethnic community;
i. Visits and Correspondence;
j. accounts of visits, letters and telephone calls;
k. information from community Elders or Cultural/Spiritual Advisors.
Part 1. Legal and Policy Framework
CD 717 Community Assessments
1. (Policy Objective) The objective of a Community Assessment is to provide complete,
accurate and quality information that will assist in the correctional process. Community
Assessment Reports enable staff to identify and confirm the level of support available to an
offender while he/she is incarcerated and upon release.
6d. (A Community Assessment Report is completed where:)
Information is required for an inter-regional transfer, international transfer, escorted temporary
absence, unescorted temporary absence (72 hours or less), private family visit, and/or work
release not involving nightly returns to the community-based residential facility;
8. (A Community Assessment Report is completed where:)
Information collected from significant collaterals such as the offender's spouse, parents,
siblings, etc. is normally gathered through an in-person interview. When appropriate, however,
a Parole Officer may collect this information through telephone contacts (e.g. remote areas, or
where contacts are well known to CSC staff).
9. (A Community Assessment Report is completed:)
When a Community Assessment is required for multiple purposes (e.g. private family visits,
unescorted temporary absences, etc.) for the same geographic location, the Institutional Parole
Officer will request one Community Assessment Report.
10. In the event that a Community Parole Officer receives multiple Community Assessment
requests (for instance, one for private family visits, one for an unescorted temporary absence
where no supervision strategy is required, and one for specific information in the community),
he/she shall incorporate all the information in one Community Assessment Report.
The details of a Community Assessment are provided in Annex A to CD 717 as already
SOP 760 Arts and Crafts
10. Arts and crafts articles may be donated to a family member or someone on the approved
visiting list of the inmate who made the articles or the inmate may designate a charitable
organization to whom the articles will be donated. In all cases, it must be clearly established that
the articles to be donated are clearly the property of the inmate
8. Aboriginal Programming
CD 702 Aboriginal Programming
22. The institution shall recognize and respect that Aboriginal offenders have a wide and
purposeful concept of family. Thus, decision makers, when exercising discretion involving an
assessment of family relationships, must incorporate, understand, accept and honour the
extended family relationships of Aboriginal offenders
9. Women Offenders
CD 768 Mother-Child Program
1. (Policy Objective) To provide a supportive environment that fosters and promotes stability
and continuity for the mother-child relationship.
6. "Mother" means biological or adoptive mother, legal guardian or step-mother
10. The Institutional Head shall ensure:
d. that staff receive training from representatives of community services or agencies or the
Part 1. Legal and Policy Framework
13. "Extended family" includes not only those family relationships that exist by birth but may
also include significant others who are not related by birth, but are given the title of grandparent,
parent, brother, sister, aunt, uncle or other relative.
institutional Program Coordinator on:
i. parenting and child safety issues
11. Except in situations where the child may be at risk of abuse or neglect, staff shall encourage
and support the inmate in her parenting role in a non-intrusive/non-interventionist manner.
80. Community support networks shall be established at the beginning of the mother’s
participation in the institutional program to ensure that support (including financial
considerations) continues throughout her incarceration and when she is on conditional release.
10. Other CSC Obligations
CCRR 131 – Compensation Payable on Death (of an inmate) – Terms of payment to surviving
spouse and/or children
CD 530 Death of an Inmate or Parolee
(5) The next of kin or the person previously designated by the inmate or day parolee shall be
informed of his or her right to claim the remains and of the burial arrangements which will be
made if he or she elects not to do so.
Part 1. Legal and Policy Framework
(6) If the next of kin or a person previously designated by the inmate or day parolee claims the
remains, the Service shall be responsible for the cost of transporting the body to a funeral home
in the home town of the inmate, the next of kin or person designated by the inmate or day
parolee. The cost shall first be a charge against money held in the inmate's trust fund.
(8) If the next of kin does not claim the body, wherever possible, the Service shall respect the
wishes of the deceased regarding religious services and disposal of personal effects.
(9) The Service shall notify in writing the next of kin or the person previously designated by the
inmate or day parolee of:
a. the portion of the funeral cost that will be provided by the institutional head when remains are
claimed by the next of kin or the person designated by the inmate or day parolee; or
b. the funeral arrangements made by the Service when the remains are not claimed by the next of
kin or the person designated by the inmate or day parolee.
Part II. General principles.
Restorative justice and service points to families of
offenders. By Lloyd Withers.
Service points are times during the offender's sentence where staff and contractors come
into mandated contact with the offender's family. At each service point, it is important that all
interactions protect the family’s safety, and are based on dignity, respect and fairness. The
following statement will soon appear in inmate handbooks and visitors' pamphlets (Correctional
Service of Canada, 2007) and describes the intent of the Families of Offenders: Policy and
Practice in Corrections document:
CSC is committed to values enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms, the Canadian Human Rights Act, the Corrections and Conditional
Release Act and CSC's Mission Statement and Core Values. This includes
recognition of the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of race, national
or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family
status, disability, or conviction for which a pardon has been granted. CSC is
committed to protecting the rights of all members of society - inmates, inmates'
families, victims, members of the public, and staff - to be treated with dignity,
respect and fairness.
Families of Offenders: Policy and Practice in Corrections uses a restorative
justice/human service approach at service points to families of offenders. This theoretical
families. While restorative justice has its critics, several things are evident under this approach.
Restorative justice views crime, not as the breaking of a law, but as the harming of the
relationships between people. Restorative justice provides a framework which recognizes that
harm has been done; the offender is held accountable; healing is needed; and the safety of
others is paramount, now and in the future.
When victims ask, “Where is the justice?" they may actually be asking, “Where is the
healing?” A sense of ‘justice being done' may feel lacking when the harm caused by the crime
continues to hurt so deeply. When things are not made as right as possible and when healing
Part II. General Principles
approach avoids some of the pitfalls and pre-conceptions of other theoretical approaches to
does not happen, the brokenness remains. MacCullum-Paterson (1988) suggests that what is
required is a "justice that heals."
For the victim this may start with the offender’s acknowledgement:
a. of who was harmed;
b. of what the harm was;
c. of remorse, including acts of reparation or restitution;
d. of the steps that have been taken, or will be taken, so that harm will not
occur in the future, including freely and honestly participating in treatment
or programs.
Restorative justice also has a deeper philosophical base that believes that restoration
cannot be done without identifying the root causes of crime that go beyond the actions of
These include poverty and inequalities in the distribution of resources and
Restorative justice is not a new concept.
Current understandings of the roots of
restorative justice began among Aboriginal peoples in Canada and in New Zealand. Practices
that were restorative can be traced back to when people gathered together to decide and resolve
issues that broke the wholeness or completeness of the 'circle' of the tribe, village or
community. When a harm was done, when someone was injured or when something was
taken, the survival of the entire community was potentially in jeopardy. The offender was
given the opportunity to make things as right as possible for the victim, the family and the
Part II. General Principles
community. Reparation and restitution was thus a community process and was determined by
the needs of the offender, the offender's family, the victim and the victim's family. For
example, among some Aboriginal peoples, the offender was ‘given over’ to the victim's family
in order to make restitution to them. The implications on the offender's family, however, were
usually taken into consideration. If the offender was required to hunt and provide for the
victim's family for one or two years, the needs of the offender's family had equal weight or
value. As restitution was provided, the offender's family could not be directly or indirectly
punished by the offender's obligations to the victim's family.
There was no golden age of restorative justice when all conflicts were resolved using
restorative measures. Practices fell along a continuum of more restorative or less restorative.
On the more restorative end of the continuum, expressions of remorse and restitution made
things as right as possible and the circle was made whole once again. On the less restorative
Restorative justice... a non-adversarial, non-retributive approach to justice
that emphasizes healing in victims, meaningful accountability of offenders,
and the involvement of citizens in creating healthier, safer communities.
Correctional Service of Canada (2006a)
"Viewed through a restorative justice lens, "Crime is a violation of people and
relationships. It creates obligations to make things right. Justice involves the
victim, the offender, and the community in a search for solutions which
promote repair, reconciliation, and reassurance."
Howard Zehr (1990)
end of the continuum, exile and banishment were tantamount to a death sentence as individuals
could not survive on their own. Some offenders were 'sent back to the Creator.'
The roots of restorative justice are recognized within the Correctional Service of
Canada's (2006a) definition and in the definition put forward by Howard Zehr (1990),
considered the grandfather of restorative justice principles. Both definitions appear above. The
Canadian Families and Corrections Network (CFCN) defines restorative justice in the form of a
series of questions that has practical, concrete implications:
Who was harmed?
How can the harm be healed?
How can future harm be reduced?
CFCN’s definition attempts to address several criticisms that restorative justice has
faced. These include criticism that restorative justice is a) high on principle and low on
practice, b) sometimes lacking a preventative, future orientation and c) a 'stand-alone' event as
opposed to a process that may require a series of restorative justice-based meetings or
Part II. General Principles
What was the harm?
CFCN's definition also ensures that the victim - someone with a name - someone who
was harmed, is first and foremost. It requires that the harm be identified. Concrete action is
then required. Offenders must work toward healing the harm caused by their actions. This
includes voluntarily committing themselves to participation in programs, services, treatment or
interventions in order to reduce their risk of harming others again. The definition rests upon a
restorative justice principle of truth-telling. There is no place for denial, minimizing, diversion
of blame to others, and so on.
Restorative justice, the family and the offender
Offenders need to be made aware of the harm caused to the victim, the victim's family,
and their own family. The family of the offender is sometimes referred to as a 'collateral
contact' within the correctional process, but family members are more than that. They are
Canadian citizens who are harmed, directly or indirectly, by the criminal behaviour of
offenders. While the families of offenders may appear to be outside the purview of criminal
justice, families are at the heart of a restorative justice approach to corrections.
There is sometimes resistance to acknowledging that the family of the offender is a
victim. Withers (2005a) found among a sample of new federal offenders that over 15% of
federal offenders are incarcerated because the victim was a family member. Statistics from the
U.S. are even more revealing - 47% of all crimes of violence were committed by non-strangers,
with 65.1% of rapes, 20.1% of robberies and 50.9% of assaults perpetrated by non-strangers
Part II. General Principles
(US Department of Justice, 2006, p. 40).
Even if the family was not a direct victim of the index offence, the family is a victim of
criminal behaviour and its consequences upon the family. They are affected by the collateral
consequences of the offender's incarceration. The family is also impacted by the re-entry of the
offender back into the family and the community.
Family members are like other victims of crime. Family members need to be empowered
in attempts at restoration, rather than punished, ostracized, stigmatized, or isolated. Resistance
arises from seeing the family of the offender as a victim if the family is considered:
only in the context of the offender, the offence and the institution in which the
offender is incarcerated;
as somehow complicit in the offender's offence or supportive of the offender's
antisocial behaviour; or
as not having the same experiences as victims who are not known to the
The offender is sentenced by the courts, but the family may serve the 'second sentence'
through community stigmatization.
Family members are hesitant to disclose to teachers,
doctors, or service agencies that a parent or family member is incarcerated. They fear being
labeled, misunderstood, stigmatized, or worse.
They mistrust those in authority and feel
alienated. They fear that their children may be removed from their custody.
Families live on an emotional roller coaster when a crime is committed. The criminal
behaviour and incarceration of a family member may be only one of many difficulties that the
family experiences (Withers and Folsom, 2007), along with witnessing family and community
violence, substance abuse, homelessness and poverty. Following the offender's incarceration,
there are additional stressors such as the financial burden of legal bills, loss of income, and the
expense of travel to the institution to visit (Withers, 2003). It is difficult to maintain family
relationships during incarceration.
Some relationships survive and others do not.
relationships improve within the controlled atmosphere of an institution.
For some
relationships, incarceration is an end to a cycle of abuse.
behaviour of the offender and by its involvement in the justice and correctional systems.
Family members live with the hope that criminal activity will cease, and also with the fear that
criminal behaviour will continue.
Family members require support.
Supporting families
benefits the family themselves, but also offenders, the correctional process and the community.
In fact, incarceration may provide an opportunity for intervention with the entire family. The
restorative process, and perhaps the correctional process, can only be accomplished when the
experience of family members is acknowledged and responded to in appropriate ways. Many
families hope for the same things as the wider community - safe and successful reintegration of
Part II. General Principles
The family of the offender may be in crisis both by how it is impacted by the criminal
Restorative justice, the family and the correctional process
Correctional policies, practices or attitudes have the potential to stress or to harm family
relationships. The collateral consequences of incarceration may be greater than the family’s
ability to cope. Because family support is an important factor for reintegration success and for
reducing recidivism, providing opportunities to strengthen family ties and instituting policies
and programs that mitigate the effects of incarceration on the family are essential. Otherwise,
correctional policies, practices and attitudes may serve to sever family ties and an important
factor in crime prevention may be lost.
A restorative justice approach believes that the family issues of women offenders are an
integral part of their healing process.
It recognizes that women offenders need practical
strategies that are contextual and woman-centred both within the correctional setting and in the
community in the form of family reintegration support.
The Correctional Service of Canada has increasingly recognized the significance of the
family experience of federally sentenced women (FSW), including the families of Aboriginal
women. Family concerns of women offenders are significant before, during and following
incarceration. Incarceration affects not only the mother but also her children. The incarcerated
mother is often a single parent and thereby the sole care-giver and financial supporter of her
children. Her children may have witnessed her arrest. Custody and access issues are more
likely to arise for women. In fact, the separation from their children is emotionally devastating
for the incarcerated mother and remains a concern for her during incarceration and reintegration
Part II. General Principles
(Eldjupovic-Guzina, 1999). The Correctional Service of Canada has striven to address many of
the issues by working toward the vision captured in Creating Choices (Task Force on Federally
Sentenced Women, 1990), and urged continually by the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry
Societies (CAEFS).
The Correctional Service of Canada surpasses most others in the world in the provision
of programming that supports family members to maintain family ties during incarceration.
Significant interventions related to families include the introduction of the Private Family
Visiting program and the Mother-Child program, as are releases under Section 84 of the CCRA
because Aboriginal communities and families are assisted in reintegration planning.
Family ties and family support may lead to lowered criminal activity, to increased
conditional release success, to reduced recidivism and to lowered intergenerational criminal
activity. The provision of opportunities to strengthen family ties and the introduction of
policies and practices that mitigate the effect of incarceration on the family are essential. If
there is a commitment to safer communities, then crime prevention must involve the provision
of appropriate support to families.
Support - Accountability Matrix
Support - Accountability Matrix
High Support/
Low Accountability
High Support /
High Accountability
Low Support /
Low Accountability
High Accountability /
Low Support
The Support/Accountability Matrix is a tool to assist in understanding under what
conditions marital and family support makes a difference (Withers, 2005b). The SupportAccountability Matrix uses the terminology of the Circles of Support and Accountability
(CoSA), a process developed in Canada to support high-risk sex offenders. While a similar
tool has been developed in the US by McCold and Wachtel (2003), the concepts of support and
accountability of the Matrix are appropriate within the Canadian context and for understanding
the role of the family of the offender.
Part II. General Principles
Many families have a vested interest in successful reintegration which is greater than that
of a parole officer, service provider or volunteer. Often the biggest fear of families is that their
returning family member has not learned the necessary skills to get out and to stay out.
Families look to the correctional process to provide their incarcerated family member with the
right programs, at the right time, by the right person and at the right place - a safe environment
at the appropriate security level.
Many families also realize that the offender is responsible for her or his own progress.
Families have an expectation of change and hold their returned family member accountable to
continue the change. They want the person that they love to be home with them, and they are
willing to provide the necessary support in order for this to occur.
The Support and Accountability Matrix postulates that there are several types of families:
1. High support / High accountability
Some families have the capacity to respond appropriately and to hold their offending
family member accountable for addressing the harm and for engaging in programs and services
to prevent or reduce future harm. These families require correctional policies, practices and
attitudes that are supportive of families, in order to maintain family capacity and resilience.
Part II. General Principles
Jill's son was in trouble with the law off and on when he was young. Now he's
serving his first federal sentence. She finds going to the prison and sitting in the
visiting room a humiliating experience.
She has raised him as a single parent for nine years and with limited spousal or
child support. The cost of travelling to visit at the institution is prohibitive, so
regular phone calls often suffice between visits and are the main means by which
she supports her son and maintains contact with him. She finds the mandatory
collect phone call system a financial drain and she is looking forward to CSC's new
telephone system. She feels that the new telephone system places the burden where
it should - on her son. Phone calls are important to her, but she believes that her
son needs to learn to budget and to choose where he spends his money, just like she
has to.
Jill is currently seeking information on drug treatment facilities in the community
for her son for when he gets out. Her own circle of support is limited. Every now
and then she would like to talk to someone who understands. She wants him home,
but doesn't know how she will cope if he re-offends.
For this pro-social family, effective correctional policies and practices may be able to
increase the family's capacity and ability to copy. Strategies may include a) a forthright and
factual approach by correctional staff at Visitor Security Control and in the Visits and
Correspondence Area; b) appropriate information or orientation about visiting and search
procedures; c) information on supportive institutional services and community organizations; d)
reassurances of the family's value and worth as individuals and in the importance of family ties
during incarceration and reintegration; and d) ongoing reviews of correctional policies or
practices that may have collateral consequences on the family relationship.
Paradoxically, correctional policies and practices may decrease the capacity of some
families who are already providing appropriate support and accountability. While the security
response to offenders changes across institutional security levels, the security response to
families usually does not. Families who arrive for visits at minimum security institutions may
be responded to in the same manner as those who arrive for visits at maximum security
Andrews and Bonta (2006, p. 280) comment that correctional programming
offered at the wrong level may increase risk of the offender's re-offending. They found that
treating low risk offender with programming for high-risk offenders actually increased their
risk of reoffending. It may also be that responding to family members as if they are at a higher
risk than they are actually makes them a higher risk that they are, as people tend to live up (or
down) to the expectations of others. In other words, Andrews and Bonta's (2006, p. 279-284)
principles of risk, need and responsivity may also need to be applied at service points to
2. High support / Low accountability
Some families wish to provide appropriate support and accountability but may
inadvertently reward or reinforce antisocial thinking or behaviour. In attempts to support the
offender, the family may actively do things for the offender without any expectation of
behaviour change on the part of the offender.
Some families may fear that the family relationship will end if they hold the offender
accountable. For other families, the offender may 'use' or manipulated the family and a
supportive family may feel guilty if they do not support the offender. In this case the family
Part II. General Principles
families of offenders.
sacrifices accountability in the process.
For this family, effective correctional policies, practices and attitudes may be able to
increase the family's capacity to hold the offender accountable and may be able to bolster the
family’s resilience to avoid pressuring and manipulation.
Shannon is having difficulty with her 4-year-old child every time they go to the
Visiting Room. She is at her wits' end with her child's acting out. Tony
continually asks Shannon to stop their child from acting out in the Visiting area
while at the same time criticizes her for not being attentive enough to their needs
as a couple.
She knew that Tony had a served a couple of previous provincial 'bits', but his
drunken assault on a stranger at a bar has given him a federal sentence. She is still
committed to him and believes that the visits may help Tony to remember what is
important - his family.
Tony has mentioned to Shannon on two occasions now that Health Services hasn't
given him anything for a shoulder injury and that he may need her to help get him
"something to take the 'edge off'."
Shannon feels exhausted by the demands of being a single parent and by making
visits a priority in order to support Tony. She wonders if she should help Tony out
with his request.
Strategies to assist the family's capacity to provide support and accountability include a)
information on pressuring, contraband and CSC's drug interdiction strategy; b) information
provision on available community resources that may assist Shannon in self-care strategies; and
c) parenting education to address Tony's parental responsibilities during visits and upon release
in the community; and d) programming within the Visits and Correspondence area that can
Part II. General Principles
reinforce learning from the parenting education in order to strengthen the parent-child bond.
3. Low support / High accountability
Some families have withdrawn or have limited their support to the offender. They may
have been harmed by the offender's criminal behaviour, by an ongoing series of sentences, by
the type of offences in which the offender engages, and/or the effect that the offender's
behaviour or incarceration has had on them in the community.
The family has the capacity to provide accountability but may no longer be interested in
providing support for a variety of reasons. The family may have supported the offender at one
time and held the offender accountable. They expected the offender to change. The offender,
however, continued in his or her antisocial, pro-criminal behaviour and the family withdrew
support or terminated contact with the offender. The family may also be concerned with the
real or potential effect of the offender's behaviour on other family members. Although the
family may feel guilty for withdrawing support, it does not believe that it has a choice but to do
Bob has begun a life sentence for the murder of his wife. His children are living
with his sister. He was always close to his sister and was not surprised when she
took responsibility for the children. Now he can't understand why his sister or his
children won't write, visit or accept his collect phone calls. On the last phone call,
his sister was adamant that he start to take responsibility for what he did and the
effect that his actions had on his children. He wasn’t sure what she meant or what
she was asking him to do.
Strategies to intervene with these families may be limited because the family may have
little contact with the offender, correctional staff or contractors. In some cases, the family may
choose to re-engage and support the offender if the family feels supported by the correctional
process and its staff.
The Post-Sentence Community Assessment (PSCA) may be an
opportunity to provide information to the family about the potential of interventions, programs
or services that CSC provides to assist the offender to develop a crime-free lifestyle.
Information on legal rights related to custody and access may be helpful when children are
be needed by the caregiver of children because social supports that are available for parents are
usually not available to other family members.
4. Low support / Low accountability
There are two types of families who fall within the quadrant of low support/low
accountability. The first type of family has the capacity to respond with support and
accountability but is not interested in maintaining or fostering a relationship with the offender.
The family does not hold the offender accountable for change nor does the family support
Part II. General Principles
involved, for both the caregiver and the incarcerated parent. Other information or referral may
behaviour change when it does occur. The family may have been 'burnt out' as a resource by
the offender. This family may have little to no contact with correctional staff or contractors.
Family members may not take part in a Post Sentence Community Assessment. There may be
minimal contact with the offender, amounting to a few letters per year or a phone call at
Lily often took care of her grandchildren when Joan showed up on her doorstep,
dropped the children off and disappeared, sometimes for days at a time. Lily
figured it was better than the alternative because Lilly suspected that Joan left the
children unattended when she went out partying.
When Joan was incarcerated, Lily was glad that the kids were with her. The kids
didn’t have to witness their mother’s arrest. Lily feels guilty about not taking the
children to visit their mother, but she doesn't think that it is in the children's best
interest to do so. Lily has had enough. As far as she is concerned, Joan has used
up all of her chances. Lily doesn't want to see the grandchildren hurt again and
she hasn't seen any indication from Joan that she is changing the lifestyle that she
was in, and to which she exposed her children.
The second type of family provides negative support and no accountability. They may,
however, have significant contact with correctional staff and contractors. They may drive
much of CSC's security procedures related to searches and drug interdiction strategies. One or
more members of the family may be criminally oriented and seek out opportunities to collude
with the offender in such activities as introducing contraband into the institution. Some family
members may already be restricted from visiting at the institution because of previous attempts
to introduce contraband or because of their own criminal charges or convictions. Serin and
Part II. General Principles
Brown (2002) found that 38% of offenders reporting having family members who had a pattern
of prior criminal behaviour, while Withers (2005a) found that 33% of family members of a
sample of new offenders had a prior conviction.
John's job in construction provided seasonal employment, but dealing drugs was a
year-round activity that supported a lifestyle that his construction income could
not. John was a regular user. He initiated Jill into intravenous drug. Jill
sometimes helped to cut the drugs. When John was arrested, Jill was not charged.
John has kept in touch with some associates from the street and has developed new
contacts inside. John has told Jill during one of their visits that an associate will be
in touch with her and that it could be financially beneficial for them as a family.
Jill thinks that some of their previous associates should be more helpful to them
now that John is incarcerated anyway - 'the family business' had been good to
them before John's arrest.
Education and orientation for this family may serve to decrease the risk to the security
of the institution and to increase the safety of staff and offenders. McVie (2001, p.8) points out
that approximately:
70% of [federal] offenders arrive with a history of some level of substance use and
abuse, [CSC's] urinalysis random testing suggests that approximately 12% of our
offenders test positive for drugs or alcohol at any given time. Of these,
approximately one-half test positive for THC as opposed to harder drugs. While
any level of positive tests is not desirable, and while these random tests may
underestimate the problem to some extent, it is clear that the vast majority of
persons under federal sentence are not actively using alcohol or drugs.
McVie (2001) also draws attention to the 1995 National Inmate Survey: Final Report in
which 25% of inmates reported that they had been pressured to smuggle drugs into the
institution. If the offender is under pressure, then no doubt pressure will be applied to families
as well.
Figure 1. Location of drug seizures.
From Audit of Drug Interdiction Activities
Part II. General Principles
(Correctional Service of Canada, 2006b, p. 3)
The Audit of Drug Interdiction Activities (Correctional Service of Canada, 2006b)
reviewed the implementation of interdiction strategies. The internal audit involved each of
CSC's five Regions and included a review of security practices such as Security Intelligence,
the Urinalysis Program, the Detector Dog Program, Ion Mobility Spectrometry Devices (IMS
Devices), x-ray machines and manual searching at 13 institutions. Figure 1 shows that the
majority of drug seizures took place in the offender's cell or in other areas inside the institution,
including the yard, on the range, in the outside perimeter area, common rooms and other areas
on the institutional property. Seizures also took place in the visiting area and inside the PFVs.
The Audit notes that the majority of Institutional Search Plans were complete and being
enforced, with mention of one best practice occurring at some institutions (Correctional Service
of Canada, 2006b, p. 12):
A number of sites visited have implemented a searching process which includes
having family members participating in overnight visits empty the contents of their
overnight bags into suitcases which have been provided by the institution. This limits
the threat of drugs being brought into the institution in the many pockets and lining
of the visitor's suitcase.
CSC, in its policies, practices and attitudes, must balance the following two concerns
when responding to the family of the offender - a) that the family may attempt to introduce
contraband into the institution and b) that the family is banned from physical contact with the
offender because due diligence and a duty to act fairly were not met. This includes verification
and testing procedures and training for staff to ensure that the IMS Device is calibrated and
Part II. General Principles
uncontaminated such that tester error does not affect visiting status (Correctional Service of
Canada, 2006b, p. 17). The Threat Risk Assessment (TRA) affects visitor status, including
whether the visitor can participate in the institution's Visiting program or Private Family Visiting
Program. As the Audit notes: "This poses the risk that a visitor will gain access to or be
restricted from the facility without due consideration of all the facts" (Correctional Service of
Canada, 2006b, p.14). The TRA was thus identified as requiring improvement, including the
conduct of the TRA in accordance with policy, proper interviewing of the visitor, proper staff
conducting the TRA, and required consultation with Visits and Correspondence and Security
Intelligence Departments related to the TRA. Post -TRA letters to visitors and offenders were
not filed in accordance with policy and information was not consistently entered into OMS. The
Audit did not include whether information was provided to families about how to appeal or
challenge TRA decisions. An ethic of service provision would state that whatever information
can be provided, should be provided, even if it means that a decision could be overturned.
Screening of visitors was also reviewed within the Audit. It was noted that, as a good
practice at one institution, a letter that describes search procedures is sent to the family prior to a
first visit and includes a signature block where the visitor acknowledges having received the
information (Correctional Service of Canada, 2006b, p. 15).
There is a requirement for ongoing diligence related to the risks posed by families who
provide negative support and no accountability. There also needs to be equal concern that
policies and practices required for these families do not diminish the resilience of families who
provide appropriate support and accountability.
No statistics are currently available to determine exactly how many families would fall
within each quadrant of the Support/Accountability Matrix and further study may be needed in
this area. However, the Matrix can be used to both understand families of offenders and to
review correctional policies and practices in light of their ability to assist families to provide
appropriate support and accountability to offenders.
Support to Families as Crime Prevention
Family ties make a difference. Family support is a dynamic factor in parole success and
incarcerated parents and their children, can be forms of crime prevention and lead to safer
communities. The family is a stakeholder that is directly affected by the criminal behaviour of
the offender. Appropriate and effective services to families of offenders are important for
several reasons, including the following:
™ The family has an inherent connection to the offender and has a vested interest in positive
behaviour change (Vera Institute, 2006).
™ The family may be more influential than formal sources to maintain pro-social change
(Visher, LaVigne & Castro, 2003).
Part II. General Principles
in the lowering of criminal activity. Strengthening family ties, including providing services to
™ The family can anticipate relapse triggers and respond. Family members may know if a
substance abuse problem is recurring, if the offender is associating with individuals who
may lead him or her back to criminal activity, etc., long before correctional staff or
contractors will be aware (Withers, 2003; Withers, Holland and Martin, 2005).
™ The family may provide basic needs upon release such as housing, food, clothing,
emotional support, job search assistance, etc. (Visher, LaVigne & Castro, 2004).
™ The family is one of the four 'natural' supports for crime prevention: work, school, family
and leisure (Andrews and Bonta, 2006).
™ Family/marital ties are as important as employment in release success (Serin and Brown,
™ Family/marital ties play a significant role in the successful reintegration for women
offenders, including Aboriginal women (Dell and Boe, 2000).
™ Family support is a significant factor in the reintegration of Aboriginal offenders
(Heckbert and Turkington, 2001; Saulis, Fiddler and Howse, 2001).
™ Family oriented interventions that change parenting styles and practices or that improve
family relationships can reduce risk. Tolan (2004, p. 121) points out that "the strongest
and most consistent evidence of effectiveness is for programs that focus on family
processes, particularly parenting."
™ Because parental incarceration appears to be linked to intergenerational criminal
Part II. General Principles
behaviour (Petersilia, 2004, p. 494), targeting interventions at incarcerated parents and
their children may contribute significantly to crime prevention.
™ Effective family-based services for the offender and the family may also be able to
reduce intergenerational criminal behaviour. Further study is needed with respect to the
role of the family in its preventative role in crime. Farrington (2004), in discussing the
role of the family in criminal activity, points out that the strongest predictor of
delinquency is criminal or antisocial parents. Other quite strong and replicable predictors
are large family size, poor parental supervision, parental conflict and disrupted families.
Further research is needed, according to Farrington (2004), to assist in the development
of family-based crime prevention programs and services.
Incarceration and reintegration may serve as an opportunity to provide support to the
entire family. Reducing the collateral consequences on the family reduces the stresses to family
capacity and maintains resiliency. In this way, the family as an asset to reintegration and
community re-entry is protected.
Families of offenders are Canadian citizens who are affected by the criminal behaviour
and incarceration of a family member. They are affected by the decision of the courts and by the
justice and corrections officials who carry out the decision of the courts.
The families
themselves are not sentenced by the courts and remain citizens, with all the rights and privileges
of citizenship. Families can provide support and accountability to offenders, and they hope that
the correctional process will assist them. They require, as all Canadian citizens may from time to
time, assistance and support with the difficulties that they face.
Canada is one of the most progressive countries in the world when it comes to services
related to families of offenders, either directly or through support to voluntary sector and nongovernmental organizations. The Correctional Service of Canada is renowned within the global
correctional community for its expertise and programming effectiveness in offender treatment.
Furthering the engagement of the family in the correctional process will confirm once again
Part II. General Principles
Canada's status as a leader in the field of corrections.
Part III. Engaging the family in the
correctional process
Introduction. By Lloyd Withers.
The time is always right to do the right thing.
Martin Luther King Jr.
As a result of Canada’s progressive programming with families, there are numerous
service points at which correctional staff and contractors are required to engage the family in
the correctional process. Service points stretch from the preliminary assessment, to intake,
reporting requirements. Intentional actions and responses by staff and contractors are required
at all these points. There is an ongoing concern for the safety and protection of others and with
the applications of the least restrictive measures on the offender and the family. The right
balance will normalize family relationships without normalizing the antisocial behaviour or
incarceration of the offender.
The late Ron Wiebe, the warden of Ferndale and Elbow Lake Institutions, was
committed to the vision and values of restorative justice. In Reflections of a Canadian Prison
Warden: The Visionary Legacy of Ron Wiebe: an Unfinished Conversation (Wiebe, 2000),
he compiled some of his reflections on the justice and corrections process. He states:
I keep telling my staff this: We'll do the right thing, not just do what is right. If
you simply do things right, you can get misled by detail and trivia that doesn't
have any value or impact. We need to focus on asking "What is the right thing?"
in the course of our decision-making. And that is the principle that has guided me,
the principle by which I have always tried to operate, and it has served us well. I
am still convinced that the corrections system, if it maintains the same course, will
continue to be successful.
Of necessity, the correctional process involves multiple stakeholders in pursuing the
goal of safe and successful reintegration. It calls for the effective implementation of policies
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
incarceration and finally into family and community reintegration and the completion of all
and practices, with a clear understanding that service provision meets CSC's motto: "Safety.
Respect and Dignity. For All." The correctional process is about doing things right AND
doing the right things.
A restorative justice approach within the correctional process holds as a premise that the
family of the offender is an asset to be encouraged, not a problem to be accommodated. Lack
of family contact or perceived interference with family contact can cause problems for
offenders that may lead to institutional difficulties. Family contact and opportunities that ease
the stress experienced by the family can improve the offender’s institutional behaviour and
adjustment. This approach within the correctional process does not disregard the security of
the institution. It does, however, recognize that some policies, procedures, practices and
attitudes will unavoidably affect the family.
Some family-centred approaches may actually assist in the Drug Strategy. Generally,
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
family members understand the need for security and do not want the offender using or being
involved with drugs. The main concerns for family members are that the rationale for security
procedures are clear, posted or explained, and that procedures are consistently and
democratically applied.
Appropriate security measures relieve family members of being
pressured by the offender or by others to introduce contraband into the institution. It may also
garner better information on contraband interdiction from families and other visitors.
Families are like other members of the public - they may not be aware of how the
correctional process works, or are only aware of bits and pieces of it. The family requires some
education or orientation about the correctional process and how they will be affected by it.
This includes how to maintain, appropriately, their relationship with the offender. It also
includes an understanding of the correctional process: its role, duties and the framework for
decisions related to the offender such as penitentiary placement, transfers, and treatment and
program needs.
The offender can 'burn out' family/marital support and then the relationship may end.
The correctional process can have similar effects on the family if the collateral consequences of
incarceration stress the family beyond its capacity to cope. In both cases, a valuable asset is
Correctional Staff
Families of minorities - A Pacific Region concern. By Chris
Kroeker, Correctional Officer II, Ferndale Institution.
New visitors to Ferndale (Minimum) Institution are provided with a package that
contains all information regarding visiting programs and security procedures when visiting at
Federal Correctional Facilities. Visitors are also given the official CSC brochure, "Drugs in
Prisons: A Dangerous Situation."
Skills we look for in officers working in Visiting and Correspondence are: polite,
approachable, observant, listening to observe behaviours for predatory intimacy. V&C also
relies on other visitors' trust and rapport so that they alert Visits staff to concerns.
period for adjustment. Because Ferndale is a minimum security institution, it is an open
environment with no physical boundaries for visiting area. Families are permitted to bring in
limited amounts of food, often ethnic food, games, etc. Inmates and their visitors all mingle in
the V&C area.
For issues such as car problems, the visitor, along with the inmate they were visiting
and a staff member, work to assist with the problem at hand. Telephones are available 24
hours/day should outside assistance be required (tow truck, taxi etc). This is not protocol, but a
One concern in the Pacific Region is that pamphlets need to be in languages such as
Vietnamese, Chinese, Punjabi to meet the populations needs. There is a language barrier as
well. When V&C officers sense something or that a concern has arisen, it is very difficult to
empathetically communicate with the visitor and find out what has gone wrong. Inmate
interpreters would breach privacy and may not always convey the message accurately. One
possibility is a visitor interpreter service via telephone, using a speakerphone in a private V&C
office. This approach may be cost prohibitive.
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
Inmates have contact with their visitors immediately upon arrival, with no waiting
A “family-friendly” environment. By Darlene Haines, Drumheller
Visitors to Drumheller Institution are treated with dignity and respect by the
Correctional Officers at the Visitor Security and the Visits and Correspondence Department.
All visitors are subject to the ion scanner, as well as possible searches by the drug dog and
other methods of drug interdiction. However, these searches are completed in a respectful
manner at all times. Should a visitor have concerns, they are made aware that they may contact
the head of the institution, or his delegate. During after hours and weekends, the Correctional
Supervisor is also available and will address the concerns of the visitor immediately. There
have been occasions when a visitor disputes the findings of the ion scanner, of course, but there
are avenues available where their concerns can be addressed (Visitor Review Board, Unit
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
Manager of V&C/Visitor Security).
There would be no reason for any variance in the interactions between correctional staff
and visitors dependent upon the security level of the institution. While it is acknowledged that
there are varying degrees of security policies and procedures associated with the security level
of institutions, all staff should treat families of offenders with dignity and respect, regardless of
the nature of interaction.
Drumheller follows national policy and procedure as reflected in the Mission Statement
of the CSC. Treating families with dignity and respect does not jeopardize the safety and
security of an institution. I consider Drumheller Institution a “family-friendly” environment,
where the support of the inmate’s family is recognized as integral to his successful
Most CSC staff experience contact with families of inmates, albeit in varying degrees.
Of course, V&C and Visitor Security staff experience the most direct contact with families.
However, Correctional Officers also are present during family socials and may be called upon
to assist in searches or threat risk assessments. Chaplains, parole officers, psychologists and
unit managers generally have degrees in the social sciences and therefore have training and
experience related to family issues.
Staff assigned to V&C and Visitor Security should demonstrate the ability to interact
effectively with inmates and their families. There are numerous instances where staff at
Drumheller have demonstrated this ability to work with families. We have a minimum security
unit at Drumheller and Correctional officers often escort inmates to their family homes to spend
the day, interacting with family. An inmate serving a life sentence was escorted to his mother’s
home for the first time in many years and the officer had to discreetly intervene to smooth out a
few awkward conversations.
All Correctional Officers at the Minimum Security Unit have significant interaction
with visitors; many officers have established a rapport with the family either because of the
frequency of the family visits to the institution or because they have escorted the inmate to the
family residence and spent the day with them.
An inmate was returned to the main institution as a result of an incident and his mother
An officer spent an hour with the mother explaining the
circumstances and helping her cope with her disappointment.
The Chaplain at Drumheller is currently conducting weekly marriage preparation
sessions for two inmates and their fiancés who will be getting married at the institution.
Parole Officers have attended the institution on weekends to visit with families of
inmates on their caseloads to deal with concerns.
The Coordinator of Case Management, Unit Managers, the Deputy Warden and Warden
all accept calls on a regular basis from the families of inmates when they have concerns.
Follow-up is provided by the parole officer of the inmate, in most instances as they are more
familiar with the inmate and the particulars of his case.
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came to visit that evening.
Families and Willow Cree Healing Lodge. By Eric L. Michael,
Correctional Officer II, Willow Cree Healing Lodge.
The following thoughts are offered from the perspective of Willow Cree Healing
Lodge, a minimum security correctional environment, which seeks to address the spiritual and
emotional needs of Aboriginal offenders through the application of culturally appropriate
programs and activities.
Programs are designed to encourage offenders to establish a
connection to their family and community as well as to facilitate the offender's preparation for
participation in the Private Family Visiting Program and Family Contact Escorted and
Unescorted Temporary Absences and other forms of conditional release. Efforts to integrate
offenders back into their families, naturally, ought to be intensified in a minimum security
setting. Included are some of the approaches we have employed thus far as we seek to
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
recognize families as an asset in the successful reintegration of offenders:
Opportunities are provided for offenders to participate with their families in Elder
facilitated interventions, such as Healing Circles and Sweat Lodge Ceremonies. Thus far,
these approaches have been instrumental in allowing offenders and their families to address
issues associated with their criminal activity and incarceration.
Opportunities have been provided to participate in cultural activities such as Round Dances
and feasts. Individuals on the offenders' approved visitor list have been welcome to attend.
These activities have provided positive social interaction for offenders with their families,
Elders, and community volunteers.
Willow Cree Healing Lodge delivers a program that incorporates the flexibility to include
the offender's spouse.
The program identifies for the spouse the healing journey the
offender has gone through while at the Healing Lodge.
One program, the Miyo
Opikinawasiwin Program (which means Good Childrearing), integrates spiritual disciplines
concerning traditional parenting skills. Developed from an Aboriginal perspective, the
program explores the loss of parenting skills through colonization and teaches traditional
parenting skills.
The offenders also learn about healthy relationships and how to
appropriately fulfill their roles as husbands, fathers and providers for their families.
Willow Cree Healing Lodge encourages the participation of appropriate community
supports that can provide citizen escorts for the Family Contact Escorted Temporary
At times the citizen escorts have been provided by individuals from the
offender's home community.
In view of the fact that we are a healing lodge it can be a complicated task to combine
and balance the 'security' and the 'respect and dignity' facets of our work. Just as at other CSC
sites we conduct routine searches of visitors and comply with other policies set forth to ensure
the safety and security of our facility. Some visitors are noticeably surprised, and on rare
occasions offended, that we apply security measures common to other CSC facilities. In fact
some of the public from the Aboriginal community may view such measures as not conducive
to a Healing Lodge setting. In view of this concern, it would be fitting to continue to educate
staff, offenders and visitors with respect to security practices. Here are some suggestions for
Provide Public Service refresher training that could be managed at the level of the
institutional site every three years, and conducted by a Correctional Supervisor or an
experienced Correctional Officer I or II. The focus of the training would be to review
security practices related to the searching of visitors, how to respond appropriately and with
respect to the dignity of persons in situations where a breach or attempted breach of
security has occurred, and demonstrating professionalism with the public while carrying out
security procedures. The refresher could also be used to explore dilemmas and issues. This
type of refresher training may assist correctional officers in their efforts to carry out their
duties in a professional manner in accordance with law and policy.
Aside from
encouraging staff to conduct their duties with tact and professionalism, this approach may
also engender greater sensitivity, placing emphasis on the effect of incarceration on
offenders and their families.
Develop a generic visitor satisfaction survey that provides visitors the opportunity to offer
feedback on the facility, the visiting program and their interactions with staff.
On rare occasion some visitors appear to be insulted by the staff's performance of routine
search procedures. To address this concern it may be beneficial for each site to develop a
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
brief orientation session and/or a visitor package. Such a package would acquaint the
visitor with the rules and regulations of the visiting program such as standards of dress,
standards of conduct, rules relating to open visits, assigned seating visits, closed visits,
reasons for suspending visits, PFV procedures, and so forth. This session or information
package would educate visitors on the function of security procedures as well as
expectations regarding the visiting program. Information could also be shared relating to
family violence prevention and how the visitor is to respond if he or she is being pressured
by an offender to commit acts which violate rules or the law. In this way visitors could
attain a greater comprehension of the fundamental role they can play in the success of the
offender's reintegration.
The visiting program continues to be an integral part in the
successful reintegration of the offender into families and communities. This approach
would ensure that the visits area is a pleasant and comfortable environment where inmates
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
and their families may enjoy the company and support of each other.
The Family member as Substitute Decision Maker: Implications
Involving Incarcerated Offenders. By David Champagne, M.S.W.,
R.S.W., and Veronica Felizardo, M.S.W., R.S.W., PhD Cand,
Regional Treatment Centre (ON).
Within each province and territory there are regulations embedded within applicable
mental health legislation that provides direction in situations where an individual becomes
incapable to make decisions about their personal care or the management of their personal
property. When individuals are no longer able to make these kinds of decisions for themselves
the law requires that decisions be made for them by a substitute decision maker. Preferably, a
family member is called upon to play a critical role in these situations. This can be particularly
challenging for family members of offenders incarcerated in the correctional system.
The concept of capacity is generally understood to refer to mental capacity. There is an
personal care and to make autonomous decisions in the management of their personal property.
It assumes that individuals are able to consider the potential benefits and potential risks in
agreeing to or declining a recommended health care intervention or in making a decision
affecting their personal property (including decisions about their personal finances). In addition,
under the law, a capable person who has given consent may withdraw consent at any time.
Capacity does not imply that an individual is always going to make good decisions or
decisions that make sense to others. It simply refers to the capacity to make decisions about his
or her personal care or personal property, whether responsible or not. This distinction is often
difficult to understand when a family member watches helplessly as their loved one refuses to
take much needed medication or spends their money freely while ignoring bills that have to be
paid, yet is assured that their loved one is capable to make these seemingly destructive decisions.
Having the capacity to give consent for a health care intervention is considered one of the
most critical elements that must be considered in the provision of health care. Health care
practitioners must assess every individual in terms of this capacity when recommending a health
care intervention such as use of prescription medication to address the symptoms of a mental
disorder or admission to a long term care facility (e.g. nursing home).
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assumption that individuals are capable to give informed consent for decisions about their
It is generally understood that when consent is obtained; it must relate to the treatment or
intervention recommended; it must be informed; it must be given voluntarily; and it must not be
obtained through misrepresentation or fraud. Consent is considered informed if the individual
received the information about the recommended intervention that a reasonable person in the
same circumstances would require to make a decision. Informed consent requires that the
individual receives responses to his or her requests for additional information about related
matters involved in making decisions about agreeing to or declining a health care intervention,
including the nature of the treatment, the expected benefits of the treatment, the material risks of
the treatment, the material side effects of the treatment, alternative courses of action, and the
likely consequences of not having a treatment.
There are circumstances in which an individual may be found to be incapable to make
decisions about their personal health care and/or personal property, or to be able to give informed
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
consent about such matters. Only capable persons may consent to health care interventions,
except in emergency situations. As part of an ongoing assessment, there is the possibility that a
health care practitioner may find an individual to be incapable to make decisions on their own
behalf. The nature of the intervention would determine which profession makes this
determination. For instance, a psychiatrist would normally determine an individual’s capacity to
make decisions about admission to a mental health centre or the use of anti-psychotic
prescription medication, while it is common for social workers to determine capacity to make
decisions about admission into a long term care facility such as a nursing home. In making these
decisions, health care practitioners are accountable to uphold the relevant laws and to practice
within their professional standards of practice and code of ethics.
An individual may be capable with respect to making decisions about one
treatment/intervention and not another. They may also be found to be incapable with respect to
making a decision about a specific personal care matter at one time, yet capable to make a
decision about the same matter at another time. The concept of capacity is a dynamic one.
When an individual is found to be incapable to make a decision regarding their personal
care or the management of their personal property, there are applicable laws, which vary across
the country, that normally permits the individual to contest or appeal this decision to an oversight
body, which may overturn the decision of the health care practitioner and reinstate the
individual’s capacity to make their own decisions. However, in cases where the individual does
not contest the finding of incapacity or when the appeal process confirms the finding of the
health care practitioner, someone must then be identified to act in the role of substitute decision
maker; someone who will be asked to make decisions on behalf of the person who was found to
be incapable.
The issue of capacity may directly impact offenders within the correctional system,
particularly for those who experience symptoms of a mental disorder. The majority of these
issues are addressed within a treatment focused facility, including such issues as capacity to
make decisions regarding the use of anti-psychotic medication or admission to a psychiatric
facility. Normally, capacity to make these decisions is assumed when offenders are discharged
from these facilities. On rare occasions however, an offender may be transferred to the care of a
mental health centre in the community when released to the community. Issues related to the
likely to continue upon discharge from the facility or release to the community, subject to
ongoing assessment.
All individuals, including those incarcerated within the federal correctional system, have
the right to identify or designate another person to act on their behalf in the event that they are no
longer capable to do so themselves. This is normally done through the establishment of a
Guardianship or a Power of Attorney. To be applicable, these legal options must specifically
apply to situations regarding personal care and/or management of personal property in the event
of incapacity, which may include advance directives in the case of terminal illness and
incapacitation. These options allow individuals to choose someone who they feel comfortable to
express their personal wishes to, while capable, with regard to preferences regarding their
personal care and/or management of their personal property.
In addition, it allows the
opportunity to choose someone who they trust would advocate on their behalf and respect their
expressed wishes if they were to become incapable.
It is very important that offenders inform those charged with their care and custody,
including health care practitioners and other correctional staff (i.e. parole officers) if they have a
Guardian or Power of Attorney. It is equally important that offenders let correctional staff know
who they could contact within their family in case of emergency, including up-to-date contact
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
management of personal property may arise more often within a treatment facility, but are more
information. It is advisable for family members of offenders with mental disorders to familiarize
themselves with the legislation in their province or territory that affects situations when their
loved one may be found incapable to make decisions about the health care and management of
their personal property. Family members may seek additional information about this process
through their family doctor, a patient advocate’s office, a local mental health agency such as the
Canadian Mental Health Association, their local member of their provincial government, a
lawyer, local support groups, anyone who may have had prior experience in this matter, or by
reviewing the relevant legislation himself or herself.
In the majority of cases, however, most individuals, including those who are incarcerated,
do not designate a Guardian or Power of Attorney, nor do they express their wishes to anyone,
including their families, in the event of incapacity. If an individual does not designate anyone to
act on their behalf in the event of being found incapable to make decisions about their personal
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care or the management of their personal property, the health care practitioner is required to look
to relevant mental health legislation to inform them how to find someone to act on their behalf.
Except for emergency interventions, which normally only provide temporary short term relief, a
health care intervention can not proceed without an informed decision made by the individual to
who the intervention is targeted or by someone acting on their behalf, usually referred to as a
substitute decision maker.
In the absence of identification of a substitute decision maker through a legal
Guardianship or Power of Attorney, there are regulations, which vary across the country, which
require that the health care practitioner to consider family members for this role within a
hierarchal order. For instance, the law would normally require that a spouse would have to be
considered before a parent or adult child, who would be considered before a sibling, who would
be considered before any other family member. In the case of a personal care decision, a client
representative from a publicly funded agency would be called upon to act as a substitute decision
maker only as a last resort if there is no appointed Guardian, Power of Attorney or family
member able to assume this role. In the case of the management of personal property, in the
absence of an appointed Guardian or Power of Attorney, the responsibility normally falls
immediately to a publicly funded client representative; however family members may apply to
the responsible agency to assume this role.
In all cases, any individual, including family members, who assume the role of substitute
decision maker must be capable themselves, must be reasonably available to communicate with
the health care practitioner in making the required decisions and must agree to take on this
responsibility; it cannot be assigned to a family member without their consent. Minimum age
requirements are identified and tend to vary across the country. An individual giving or refusing
consent to a treatment on behalf of another person, when acting in good faith and in accordance
with the legislation, is not liable for giving or refusing consent.
Normally, the substitute decision maker must follow the last known expressed wishes of
the family member in making decisions on behalf of someone. In the absence of expressed
wishes, the substitute decision maker must consider the best interest of the person in making
their decisions. This means that they must consider the values and believes of the incapable
person, consider whether the treatment will improve the incapable persons’ overall well being,
well being from deteriorating, and whether the treatment and/or intervention will reduce the
potential for deterioration of the incapable person’s well being.
For many offenders, family ties become fractured for a wide variety of reasons, including
in part in response to the anti-social behaviour which lead to their incarceration, in part because
of separation due to incarceration in another city or another province and in part due to the
challenges of coping with the problematic symptoms of mental illness, which may include
suspiciousness and withdrawal. It is therefore not uncommon to have a situation in which an
offender is found to be incapable to make important personal care and/or personal property
decisions and there is no family member identified who could assume the role of their substitute
decision maker.
In many cases, family members have lost contact with their incarcerated relative, only to
receive a call from a health care practitioner within the correctional system to advise them that
their incarcerated relative is in need of critical health care intervention, requesting whether they
would be willing to assume the role of substitute decision maker. This often catches family
members off guard and can generate a number of very difficult and conflicting emotions for the
family member. In some cases the family member expresses anger and resentment over being,
yet again, dragged into the complicated affairs of their incarcerated relative. At other times,
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
consider whether the treatment or intervention will prevent the incapable person’s condition of
there is a sense of fear and hesitation in even considering such a powerful role in making
decisions for their loved one.
If contacted by a health care practitioner, a family member who voluntarily assumes the
role of substitute decision maker has the right to ask whatever questions they need to ask to
ensure that they can make an informed decision. They may request information in writing, if
considered necessary to carry out their role. It is important that they take sufficient time to make
an informed decision, while respecting the urgency often associated with these situations. It may
be helpful for them to consult others in their own life as support in carrying out this role. A
family member who accepts the responsibilities of acting as a substitute decision maker may
withdraw from this role at any time, with notification to the appropriate health care practitioner.
In addition, it is the responsibility of the health care practitioner to notify the family member in
the event that the individual’s health care improved to the point where the individual is deemed
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
capable once again to make their own decisions.
Where possible, it is considered preferable that a family member assume the role of
substitute decision maker when their loved one is found to be incapable to make informed
decisions for him or herself about personal care or personal property matters. It is recognized
within the Guide to the Substitute Decisions Act (2000) in Ontario that legislation was created in
order to:
give individuals more control over what happens to their lives if they become
incapable of making their own decisions
respect people’s life choices, expressed before they became mentally incapable, and
take into account their current wishes
recognize the important role of families and friends in making decisions for loved
clarify and expand the rights of adults who are mentally incapable and the
responsibilities of substitute decision maker
provide greater safeguards and accountability to protect mentally incapable people
from harm
limit public guardianship and other government intervention to situations where there
are no other suitable alternatives
In summary, the role of a family member as a substitute decision maker is a multi-faceted
one. It requires knowledge and awareness of applicable legislation and responsibilities dealing
with such topics as capacity, consent, and the rights and responsibilities of individuals who are
mentally ill. In addition, it requires a dedication to act on behalf of a loved one in the best
interests of the loved one, including those who may be incarcerated. For families of offenders
there are additional considerations and challenges that require that the family member who
assumes the role of substitute decision maker work closely with professionals within the
correctional system in carrying out their responsibilities, often in the face of fractured
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
Consent to Disclose. By Dorma Grant, Recruitment, RHQ (ON).
The mandate of the Correctional Service of Canada is to administer the sentence of
offenders serving sentences of two years or more. This sentence can be served both inside
federal institutions or outside in any Canadian community. Most offenders serve their sentences
in both places as successful reintegration progresses. This makes the gathering, synthesising,
evaluating, and sharing of information vitally important. Proper use of information contributes
to the protection of society, preserves the dignity of individuals, and allows CSC to exercise
reasonable, safe, secure, and humane control.
Parole Officers, both in institutions and in the community, have an integral role in the
reintegration of offenders. The case management process is central to fulfilling the mission by
actively encouraging and assisting offenders to become law-abiding citizens. One of the most
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important parts of this is to gather, evaluate, and share information about offenders for the
purpose of protecting the public and reintegrating offenders into the community.
Other employees and volunteers also play a significant role in the reintegration process.
This is done more efficiently and with better results when information is shared accurately and
according to the rule of law. The Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act define and set
out the parameters that govern the management of information held in government institutions.
The Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA) (Sections 23 to 27 and 141 and
142) encapsulates the portions of these laws that are relevant to the interactions of staff in
relation to sharing information with people other than those linked through approved
organizations. These are people who are interested in an offender because they are family
members, significant others, victims, or anyone who is recognized as appropriate by the
offender and CSC. It is important that these people feel that they are an informed part of the
situation. CSC has developed Standard Operating Practices (SOPs) 700-01 to guide staff
through the process of acceptable information sharing.
Families may be one of the most important assets in an offender’s life. It may thus be
appropriate to include the family in the reintegration plans. There are several reasons to involve
them in information sharing. This includes the need to know and fully understand the criminal
convictions, criminal behaviour, and current situation in order to better equip them to offer
support and define expectations and limits. There could also be reasons of safety and the need
for protection.
Requests and requirements for information come at several points in the sentence.
Many questions will surface at the post sentence phase. Others will come during incarceration
at the time of a request for participation in the private family visiting program, temporary
absences, or when there are family concerns that need attention. Certainly questions will come
up at the time of release planning, parole hearings, and during the conditional release.
An ethic of service provision to families requires that they be provided with information
that can be shared or inform them of the process by which they can access information. They
will then be able to make informed decisions about the many issues that they face.
Family members may not understand that information cannot be shared without a
signed and witnessed Consent for Disclosure of Personal Information. A brief explanation is all
The information you are requesting is protected under Canada’s privacy law. It can
only be shared with you if your family member consents to release the information to
you. It will be up to him or her to sign a “Consent for Disclosure of Personal
Information” form. You may wish to discuss this requirement with him or her.
Protocol for information sharing is set out in the previously cited CDs, with the
appropriate form for disclosure of information found on the Infonet – “Consent for Disclosure
of Personal Information” or CSC/SCC 0487.
The form is straight-forward in that it requires
regular tombstone data such as FPS, name, date of birth, and name and address of the
completing operating unit. The body of the consent form describes the information to be
shared, with whom it is to be shared, why it is to be shared, and the period of time the consent
is in force. It is then signed and dated by the offender.
At the bottom of the form is an Affidavit of Witness. This is simply a declaration that
the person actually signing the consent form is the person about whom the information is going
to be shared and that that person is of legal age.
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that is needed:
This is a simple procedure but very necessary to protect everyone involved.
Mark is serving a life sentence for sexually assaulting and killing a young woman he
picked up in a bar. He is currently in a medium security institution. He had
recently begun a relationship with Joan, a woman he met at AA while on an
escorted temporary absence program.
It was soon discovered that Mark was making inappropriate telephone calls to
Joan’s workplace and talking to her boss. Before this information became known
he had been recommended for minimum security and the transfer was in process.
When the information was reported, it was decided that a security reclassification
was necessary and the transfer was stopped.
Mark begged the Parole Officer to talk to Joan and said that Joan was agreeable to
discussing this by telephone. The Parole Officer telephoned Joan. There was no
Consent for Disclosure of Personal Information signed as the consent was verbal.
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
After the call Joan terminated the relationship based on the termination of the
transfer process and the return of a medium security status. Mark was very angry
and set in motion a legal case against the Parole Officer for disclosing information
that was detrimental to his relationship without his permission. This situation could
have been avoided if written consent had been obtained.
Preliminary Assessments / Post-Sentence Community Assessment.
By Darlene Wood, Vernon Parole.
As Parole Officers conducting Post Sentence Community Assessments we have a
significant amount of information to gather for the assessment phase of the offender's parole.
There are specific deadlines for the completion of the report, and to this end, it is common to
get caught up in the acquisition of the information. In many instances you are the first
introduction the contact/family has to both the newly federally incarcerated family member as
well as to the Correctional Service. The opportunity to provide reciprocal information allows
the person to engage the family in a more open manner. There is an obligation to provide
information about intake, what to expect, how contact can be made, visiting etc. In many cases
additional questions remain and referrals need to be made to alternative sources.
issues without evoking guilt or suggestions of blame. In many cases the family finds it
necessary in talking about the nature of their current support to weed through other issues.
Some issues include guilt, resentment etc. Restating the offender's personal responsibility in
the offending and presenting in a non-judgemental manner have been found to be helpful
means in this process. There is often an understandable amount of disconnect and discomfort
for the family in realizing that what has been done is wrong and yet still wanting to offer
It has often been helpful to talk about the person as not being the offences he has
committed and as having an understanding for the person separate from this. Often asking the
family to show a picture of the offender helps the person doing the interview as well as creating
a sense that you care to know more than just the facts of the report.
Having established this initial contact and in many cases established a rapport, it will
likely be you who the contacts will reach with later questions. There is a balance to manoeuvre
in offering a much needed service to these families with the information within the limited
mandated role of the person completing the initial Community Assessment.
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
It is often difficult to ask questions of family members in relationship to childhood
Palliative Care and the family of the offender. By Angela Wright,
Health Services, NHQ.
Correctional Services Canada (CSC) has endorsed the definition of palliative care
suggested by the World Health Organization (WHO): the “active total care offered to a patient
whose disease is no longer responsive to curative treatment.
The control of pain, other
symptoms, and assisting with psychological, social, and spiritual problems is paramount. The
goal of palliative care is “the achievement of the best quality of life for patients and their
families.” Family support is highlighted in virtually all the literature published on this subject.
And in fact, “care” of the family is an important part of the palliative care model.
Family members of palliative care patients are significantly affected by the challenges of
the illness. The situation becomes even more difficult when the loved one is incarcerated. The
inmate and family may both already be suffering a significant loss as a result of the incarceration
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In the Palliative Care Guidelines, CSC defines family as: “Those closest to the patient in
knowledge, care and affection. The patient defines who will be involved in his/her care and/or
present at the bedside. These may include:
The biological family
The family of acquisition (related by marriage/contract)
The family of choice and friends (including pets)
With such a definition, the concept of “family” goes well beyond traditional blood ties,
and for inmates includes their friends “inside” as well. It is important that this is recognized and
respected by staff working with palliative care patients within CSC.
When inmates have family support in the community, every effort must be made to
involve them at a level that is comfortable for both the inmate and their family. According to
CSC’s Palliative Care Guidelines we “extend care to include support of family”, “offer
bereavement support”, and “provide care for the caregivers”.
Each situation will present
distinctly unique needs and as such, the response must be individualized. A multidisciplinary
team approach is used which includes nursing, physicians, specialists, chaplaincy, psychology,
parole and security to name a few. Each team is built to meet the specific needs of the inmate
and his/her family.
While adherence to policies designed to enhance safety and security within a federal
institution must always be respected, alterations in routine and certain visiting practices are
allowed within the context of the palliative care program. For some, the importance of family
support at end of life cannot be overemphasised. Therefore, according to the Palliative Care
Guidelines, special visiting arrangements will be made for families of inmates in the program.
When appropriate and safe to do so, this extends to include other inmates incarcerated in the
In some institutions, arrangements are made for family members to spend the night at the
bedside with their loved one when they are nearing the end of their lives. This is beneficial for
not only the patient, but also the family. Family members often have a sense of helplessness in
like a participant in the process.
Involving the family early in the palliative care process is an important step. In some
cases, the National Parole Board, according to section 121 of the Corrections and Conditional
Release Act (CCRA), will release an inmate with Parole by Exception or Royal Prerogative of
Mercy before their death. For a successful release, the inmate must have an appropriate place to
live. With shortage of hospice facilities, families are often the best resource for such releases.
Whatever the family dynamics (or lack of), it is crucial that the wishes of the palliative
care patient be respected. It is appropriate to investigate what family resources are available to
the patient and offer encouragement and support in contacting them. Ultimately however,
ensuring that the best interests of the patient are met is the primary goal.
Insisting on family
interaction when it is not desired by the inmate will not serve those interests. Facilitating visits
from inmate friends at the request of the patient would be a better option if appropriate.
It is CSC’s goal to “assist offenders with terminal illnesses in living their remaining time
in comfort and dignity, in the environment of their choice to the extent possible”. This can be
achieved by furthering “family” involvement and also offering those family members support
and care.
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palliative care situations and “just being there” and assisting with their care, allows them to feel
Preparing offenders with a mental disorder for release to the
community: Social Workers and families working together. By
David Champagne, M.S.W., R.S.W., and Veronica Felizardo,
M.S.W., R.S.W., PhD Cand, Regional Treatment Centre (ON).
Offenders with a mental disorder often face a considerable challenge when preparing for
their release to the community after a period of incarceration in the correctional system. As one
of the main professional who work with offenders in preparation for their release into the
community, Social Work in particular, emphasizes and promotes the importance of family
involvement as a critical aspect when working with these individuals. Social workers believe that
the involvement of the offender’s family system in a meaningful way throughout the release
process offers the best potential for a successful outcome.
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
Champagne (2006) describes the discharge/release process for social workers as:
a complex psycho-social process that addresses the multi-faceted discharge
related needs of individuals and their families, and various systems. It is a
multi-disciplinary process, best coordinated by one dedicated position in
consultation with a team, which requires use of a wide range of clinical and
organizational skills. Planning commences prior to, or on, admission to a
hospital or institution and continues throughout the admission, with a
primary goal to develop a realistic and viable plan for follow-up care and
support after discharge. It promotes optimal functioning of individuals,
their families, and support systems. It is based on the principle of ‘continuity
of care,’ and respects the right of self-determination for all involved in the
process. Discharge plans are customized within a holistic framework and are
based on a comprehensive assessment of an individual’s unique needs,
strengths, and environmental factors (e.g. support system, resource
availability, system barriers, etc.). Advocacy is a key component of this
Social workers approach their work with offenders in a manner that is characterized by
mutual respect, reliability and open communication. This contributes to the development of a
working rapport which best permits informed and helpful exchanges of information. It provides
offenders with confidence when actively enlisting assistance to address their identified release
goals and needs. It also provides a sense of trust when attempts are made to involve their family
system in the release process.
Social workers recognize that families come in all shapes and sizes. They can be defined
by blood relationship or emotional kinship. They can be close and nurturing or fractured and
conflictual. They are influenced by significant life events and are therefore dynamic by nature.
Social workers enable the offender to safely define their familial system. For example, instead of
asking the offender to identify a spouse specifically, it is optimal to ask the offender to identify
their significant other.
Families, when involved with the offender, can have a tremendous impact and influence
on their preparation for release to the community and their potential for a successful reintegration
after their release.
The release process, although usually understood to refer to the work
completed during the final months leading up to a release, actually commences when the
offender is first admitted into a correctional facility. An offender’s participation, or lack thereof,
in correctional and treatment-related programs and other personal development activities
release to the community. Likewise, an offender’s relationship with his/her family system
throughout their sentence can also have a significant impact when preparing for release to the
community. This is important whether the offender is being released to the community under
conditional supervision or at the end of their sentence.
Throughout the release process, it is important to be mindful of cultural sensitivities
when working with offenders and their families. An offender’s cultural identity (e.g. gender,
race, associations, etc.) is an important and central consideration when establishing effective
strategies for community release. Social workers include an awareness of cultural influences in
their work with offenders as it shapes their behaviour and interactions with others. Likewise,
social workers appreciate and respect such diversity within the offender’s family systems.
It is also recognized that offenders and their families have values and biases that may be
different from those of the social worker. Acknowledgement and respect for similarities and
possible differences in beliefs and attitudes is essential in establishing effective working
Offenders with mental disorders usually require specialized care following incarceration.
Access to specialized services normally requires extensive information sharing about the
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
throughout their sentence, can have a considerable impact on their preparation for eventual
offender’s personal, criminal, psychiatric and medical backgrounds and current needs. When
involved in the release planning process, family members can often provide valuable information
to support this process, including information that the offender may not be able to provide. This
could also include assisting offenders in replacing lost personal identification. Following release,
the family can also provide valuable assistance by accompanying their loved ones to attend their
appointments and by offering support and encouragement throughout the release planning
In preparing for release, offenders with mental illnesses often turn to their families with
expectations of support (e.g. financial, housing, emotional, etc.). Engaging the family system as
an integral part of the release process at the outset, best ensures the offender’s participation in the
strategies developed to support a successful community reintegration. By providing families
with information about the offenders’ concerns, needs and expectations for release, they can be
empowered to play an active role in the release planning process. Social workers also assist the
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offender in considering their family’s limitations in preparing for their release to the community
and back into their lives.
In working together with families, social workers must respect and comply with privacy
and access to information legislation. Information can only be exchanged about an offender with
his/her consent, except in consideration of public safety concerns. In the absence of consent, a
social worker may only receive information from a family member or provide general
information about such matters as the correctional system, the release process or community
resources. Social workers inform family members about how the information they provide may
be used by the correctional system. Therefore, this will allow them to make informed decisions
in the disclosure of particularly sensitive information.
Social workers encourage and support healthy relationships between offenders and their
families. This may involve working closely with offenders and their families to bring resolution
to conflicts, misunderstandings, or fractured relationships, often assuming the role of mediator. It
also may involve locating family members when contact has been severed. There is a greater
likelihood that realistic expectations will be established by fostering open and healthy
communication between offenders and their families, ultimately supporting the reintegration
To a family member, the correctional system can appear overly complicated and difficult
to access in their efforts to maintain close relationships with, and active involvement in the
rehabilitation of, their loved ones. Social workers empower families with the ability to navigate
the correctional system, by providing information and clarification about how the system
operates; particularly as it relates to the release process (e.g. release conditions, community
supervision, community resources, etc.).
Social workers adopt many roles in their work with offenders when preparing for their
release into the community (e.g. advocate, educator, referral agent, counselor, mediator, etc.). In
the absence of professional support, families are often left to assume these roles on their own.
Social workers work closely with family members to establish a joint effort in addressing the
many responsibilities involved in the release process.
It is essential that social workers and families form a partnership, in working together
being respectful of diversity, the complexities of family dynamics, and system-related
challenges, social workers encourage and empower family members to participate in the release
process. Collaboration between offenders, their families and social workers best promotes a
positive outcome in the release process.
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
with offenders with mental disorders, in support of their successful community reintegration. By
Aboriginal Liaison Officers and Elders
Aboriginal Families. By Norma Antoine, Parole Officer, and
Norman Gardipy, Aboriginal Elder, Willow Cree Healing Lodge.
Ensuring the safety, dignity and respect of visitors in an institution is paramount when
dealing with visiting families. This is maintained best by following the law and policies
governing visits in an open and respectful manner. Staff should understand the families' lack of
knowledge of Correctional Service Canada's (CSC's) institutions and policies. Because visiting
families often experience fear and uncertainty when entering institutions, they rely on the staff
to make them feel safe during their visits and to ensure they understand the policies and
procedures governing visits.
Interactions between staff and family members in a Healing Lodge are different from
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those in regular institutions due to the unique emphasis on Aboriginal culture, ceremonies and
spiritualism aimed at assisting the healing journey of those who reside there. Healing Lodges
appear friendlier, personal and more relaxed than medium- and maximum- security institutions
which have a greater emphasis on control and project a more impersonal, institutionalized
image. This helps to make Aboriginal families feel more comfortable during visits to Healing
Lodges, which is further enhanced by the fact that there are more Aboriginal employees at
Healing Lodges, some who may speak the same Native Language as the visitors.
Healing Lodges strive to build positive and trusting working relationships between
staff, offenders and their families. Maintaining relationships with family members incarcerated
in a Healing Lodge is supported as much as possible. Indeed, family members not only have
the opportunity to visit their incarcerated relatives, but they also can attend ceremonies in
support of their family member. A respectful working relationship is cultivated by staff and
contract workers through their interactions with offenders and their visitors. Treating people as
one wishes to be treated and respect for all is further reinforced by the Elders through their
To enhance CSC's ability to better accommodate and promote healthy visits from
Aboriginal families, staff should receive cultural sensitivity training. Staff members who
interact with visitors need some knowledge of the history of Aboriginal cultures in Canada.
Familiarity with colonization, assimilation and the intergenerational effects of residential
school systems will provide staff with a better understanding of the beliefs and values that
shape Aboriginal cultures. It will also help staff to determine some of the root causes of the
families' fears and mistrust of the correctional system. The training would help CSC staff to
recognize and more clearly understand the Aboriginal concept of "Family" which extends far
beyond the policies definition.
It is this knowledge or understanding that CSC staff,
contractors, and Aboriginal Liaison Officers need when working with Aboriginal families.
Many visitors face obstacles in the process of maintaining support for their incarcerated
family member. These obstacles may include the distance from home communities, lack of
transportation, lack of funds, the lack of lodging and/or car trouble.
Clearly, CSC has
limitations on the extent to which they are able to assist visitors with those problems.
However, it is important for CSC staff to be aware of the difficulties faced by visiting family
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
members and to assist where they can.
Involving families of Aboriginal Offenders. By David Larocque,
Riverbend Institution.
At Riverbend Institution, the Case Management Team (CMT) sits down with offenders
and discusses their Healing Plan, including areas of the plan that relate to their families. The
plan may consist of programming, Cultural/Spiritual Escorted Temporary Absences (ETAs),
Family Healing Sweats and family contact ETAs. The offenders are encouraged to participate
in 16 Step Meetings, Elder Counseling and the Sweatlodge ceremonies. The Healing Plan
interim review is done every three months to update the progress that the offender has made.
Offenders and their families participate in Family Healing Sweats as part of the Healing
Plan if the ceremony will help the offender. This provides the family with an opportunity to
deal with the issues of the offender being incarcerated and the offender has an opportunity to
discuss the support that he needs from his family when he is released.
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The CMT may recommend Family Contact ETAs after the Family Healing Sweats are
complete. The Elders and/or Aboriginal Liaison Officers (ALO) who escort the offender to his
home community discuss the ETAs with the family members in order to keep them 'in the
loop.' They also inform the family that the offender will eventually participate in Unescorted
Temporary Absences (UTAs), if he is eligible.
The ALOs and Elders are asked for their input when offenders are going through
difficulties in the institution. Along with the Parole Officers and Correctional Officers they
discuss issues, approaching the issues in a manner that bridges the cultural barriers if necessary.
They discuss interventions such as spiritual fasts, Sweatlodge ceremonies and Turtle Teachings
ceremony, and help the individuals maintain balance in their lives so they are able to return to
their families in a healthy state. The offender must make the commitment to participate in the
ceremonies - the ALOs and Elders do not require offenders to participate.
The ALOs and Elders treat the offenders with respect, trust and dignity and guide them
through ceremonies. Their role is to walk with the offenders on their healing journey and
support them along the way. At the same time, these caregivers need to deal with their own
issues in order to help others on their healing journey.
Family notification of the death of an inmate. By Lloyd Withers.
Notifying the next of kin is not an enviable duty for a chaplain. Doing the notification
properly, however, is one of the last things that can be done for the inmate who died and one of
the first things that can be done for a family with respect to their loss of their incarcerated family
It is always important to have on-site support for the family during the death notification.
It is rare that the family lives close to the institution such that the notification can be done by the
Chaplain in person. The Chaplain must usually contact a clergy person from the faith group in
the family's area or request that the local police or RCMP detachment assist in the on-site
It was a chilly December evening when my phone rang at 11:00. If my phone was going
to ring in the evening, it always seemed to be about this time. At this time the inmates at
Millhaven were returned from exercise because of an incident, or they weren’t and the incident
was still in progress. If my phone rang, it meant, regrettably, only one thing. Tonight, despite
the rapid and professional response of correctional staff and health care staff, an inmate had been
killed by another inmate.
By the time I arrived at the institution, the Keeper had already completed the file search
and provided me with the name of the next of kin, the offender's mother and father, and with a
telephone number and an address in Toronto.
He also informed me that the family was
At that time Hugh Kirkegaard, Regional Chaplain for Ontario, was the Community
Chaplain in Toronto. I briefed him on the events at the institution and he agreed to do the on-site
notification. Hugh contacted a Vietnamese pastor through the World Vision Settlement House in
downtown Toronto, picked him up by car and the two of them drove to the family’s residence.
The address on file was wrong - the family had recently moved from an apartment complex to a
house a few blocks away. Neighbours in the apartment building, however, gave Hugh and the
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
notification and to assist the family to call the institution for further information.
Vietnamese pastor the family’s new address.
The family became agitated and confused as the Vietnamese pastor translated Hugh's
information about the death. Hugh then assisted the family to phone me at Millhaven Institution
about claiming the body, travelling to the institution and other details while the pastor was there
to translate. I also let the family know that the AWMS would be contacting them about further
arrangements and personal effects. The family had Buddhist connections and the Vietnamese
pastor agreed to make contact with a local Buddhist priest the next day.
By 2:30 a.m., Hugh and the Vietnamese pastor had left the family’s residence and I had
also briefed the Keeper that the family notification was completed and that the media could be
informed of the incident.
The family drove to the institution and met with the AWMS the following day. The
family wanted to view the body. I escorted the family to Kingston General Hospital morgue and
arranged for the Hospital Chaplain to meet us. The family was silent for some time, then started
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
whispering to each other in a very concerned manner. I asked one of the family members about
the reason for their agitation. The placement of the body in the morgue meant that a small
portion of the back of the head was visible, thus showing where part of the skull had been
removed during the autopsy. In some Asian cultures, however, the removal of the back of the
skull is sometimes used as a means of execution. It took us some time to assure the family that
the procedure was part of a standard autopsy and was not an indication that their son had died of
a gangland slaying.
Hugh recently commented that, “This story has stuck with me … It was quite a learning
experience and brought home the challenges of bridging cultures, languages and perceptions
when working in the criminal justice arena.”
For me, the story also illustrates the importance of interlinkages between institutional
chaplains and community chaplains. There are very few community chaplains in Canada and
thus few opportunities to provide this link from the institution to the family and to wider
networks of support in the community. This includes notification of the next of kin when a
parolee dies. It may be important for District Offices that do not have a chaplain associated with
them to establish a protocol with a local ministerial association to assist in the notification of
family members of the death of the parolee.
Many institutions now have standing orders to guide staff at this important service point
to families. The following is part of the Institutional Operating Procedure on Serious Illness or
Death of Inmate from Bath Institution.
In the event of the death of an inmate, the Duty Correctional Supervisor shall
immediately notify the Warden, Deputy Warden, Assistant Warden Management
Services (AWMS), Chaplain, Chief Health Services, Institutional Physician, Coroner,
Security Intelligence Officer (SIO), the Parole Officer responsible for the case, Chief
Sentence Management, OPP Pen Squad, A&D officer and the Chairperson of the
Citizens' Advisory Committee. Regional and National notification shall be provided as
outlined in CD 568.1.
It shall be the responsibility of the Chaplain, in conjunction with the Assistant Warden
Management Services or Officer in Charge of the Institution, outside normal working
hours, to determine next of kin utilizing information from OMS and the V&C file.
The Chaplain, in conjunction with the AWMS, shall contact the next of kin and advise
them of the death as well as their right to claim the body. Notification of death should be
done in person if at all possible; notification by telephone should be a last resource.
Chaplains have access to a professional network of caregivers skilled in such matters and
is the preferred delegation. If necessary, Police may be a possible resource. In the event
of the death of an Aboriginal offender, an Elder may be the Warden's delegate. Media
releases should be withheld until next of kin have been notified properly.
The Chief of Administrative Services shall determine if the next of kin will claim the
body and if not, advise them of CSC obligations as outlined in CD 530. The Chief of
Administrative Services shall be the liaison with the family until all arrangements have
been finalized. It shall be the responsibility of the Chaplain, in conjunction with the
Chief of Administrative Services to place a notation on the "Next of Kin Notification
Form" located on the V&C file that the next of kin were contacted and their wishes in
relation to disposition of the deceased inmate, inmate's effects and monies.
The procedures outlined in the standing order cover all of the important aspects of
providing a death notification in a respectful, empathic and professional manner.
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
Working in partnership. By Maggie MacLean, Chaplain,
Edmonton Institution for Women
In bold lettering above the entrance to the Edmonton Institution for Women is a sign:
"Working in Partnership with the Community."
Families are an integral part of that
From my perspective as a Chaplain, family is the sacred space where real values are
taught. Values are encoded in the stories we tell and retell and in the lives we live and re-live.
Chaplaincy contact with family members gives flesh and bones and meaning to the life of the
incarcerated woman.
Times of crisis, illness, depression, grief, and death are pastoral
opportunities for meaningful presence and possible 'entrance' into the family relationships.
Chaplains usually meet a family member at the hospital, a wake, or a funeral. Conversations
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during illness or between the time of death and the funeral are significant as these tend to be
stories that are not heard at other times. These are opportunities to become familiar with the
names and relationships of the family and its history.
It is very important for our women to visit a family member when ill and attend the
funeral where possible. These rituals are important in everyone's life and may help the woman
to clarify important values. It provides me with an opportunity to point out ways in which
faith, trust, family and community are relevant to daily life.
Chaplains and volunteers have offered quality, compassionate assistance to families
through encouragement, mediation, accompaniment on escorted temporary absences, phone
calls and follow-up referrals. Chaplains have facilitated mothers in wheelchairs being brought
to the institution for their daughters' hearings, and on another occasion for a Baptism. Prayer
for families is an integral part of our daily prayer and weekly communal services.
The "Angel Tree Ministry" to provide gifts for the children of the women at Christmas
provides another vital link with families. Chaplaincy has also assisted in having our women
read storybooks on tape to their children, where possible.
Certainly one profound way to promote law-abiding citizenship is to build bridges to
strengthen the family relationships.
Maintaining boundaries with families. By Teresa Kellendonk,
Chaplaincy, Edmonton Institution.
Chaplains have the role of providing spiritual care to inmates and staff in Federal
Institutions. They provide guidance, pastoral counselling, grief support, religious services,
memorial services, support to staff and lastly, support to the families of incarcerated persons.
Families have their own issues when a person that they love is incarcerated.
Chaplains working in maximum-security institutions often receive calls from family
members who are trying to cope with life on the outside while the person they love is serving
time. Maintaining boundaries and finding a balance is critical. Family members may express
emotions to the Chaplain that they have never expressed to the inmate or other family members.
There are issues of anger, frustration, denial, hurt, grief, relief and others. This is just a short list
I have often been told by families that they have no outlet for discussing their situation
with an incarcerated family member. This is especially true of parents. The feelings described
above can have long lasting impact on the lives of family and friends. A question often asked is,
“How am I supposed to deal with this, how do I cope”. This is often asked through tearful
conversation. Maintaining the confidentiality of both parties is paramount in a Chaplain's
ministry. A Chaplain cannot discuss an inmate's situation or story with family members because
of the Freedom of Information Act, unless the inmate signs a Consent for Disclosure of Personal
Information granting permission to do so. A Chaplain can, however, discuss with the family
their feelings toward the incarcerated person.
A Chaplain will usually have either a Bachelors or a Masters Degrees from an accredited
theological school, together with supervised Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) training in a
clinical setting through the Canadian Association for Pastoral Practice and Education /
Association canadienne pour la pratique et l'education pastorales (CAPPE/ ACPEP). Chaplaincy
has a professional responsibility to family situations as they arise. A Chaplain's educational and
practical training prepares them well to deal objectively with the difficulties faced by the
families of offenders.
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
of some of the issues with which families cope.
Information for families. By Arn Main, Chaplain, Fenbrook
Good information lowers anxiety and prepares visitors for the complexities of a
correctional facility. It is reasonable to expect that finding needed information will not be a
difficult process.
Initial information provision often begins when a staff member receives a telephone call
from a family member with respect to the "who, what, where, when, why and how" questions. A
toll free number that connects the individual directly with the Visits and Correspondence
Department may be useful, and some institutions now provide such a number in order for
families to reserve visit time. A “take home orientation video” may be helpful to families,
together with written materials that describe visiting practices and procedures related to the ion
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scanner and the drug dog. Some form of language intervention may be needed if the individual
does not speak English or French.
In addition, a well-stocked information centre at the institution can provide information
on housing, emergency assistance, transportation and community resources. Clear, readable
maps and directions will also aid those who are travelling to the institution. Other helpful
information includes:
The number to call in the institution to inform the resident of a health crisis or death
in the family, including contact information for the Duty Centre and Chaplaincy.
Benefits and risks of car-pooling (e.g. travelling with someone using drugs will have
an impact on access to the institution).
Information on CSC's Drug Interdiction strategy.
What to do if they or their family member faces manipulation or threats, including
death threats, eg. that they should contact local police and the Security Intelligence
Officers at the institution.
An explanation of closed visits, open visits and designated seating.
Hours of operation of the V&C area.
At Fenbrook Institution, twenty-four hours notice is required to book a visit. It also
assists with preparation time, ensures that the visiting facilities are not overtaxed and in violation
of fire safety. Regardless, there many be instances in which some people travel significant
distance to find that visits are terminated because of operational issues. Further work is needed
on how to provide information about institutional closures to families.
It is clear that the concept of family and community is evolving within the correctional
setting. If a relationship is healthy and supportive, then we ought to facilitate its continuance. If
a relationship is abusive and demeaning, we ought to facilitate safety and beneficial growth. In
any case, we do not want to find ourselves exacerbating criminological factors by policies or
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practices. Good information provision strategies are a start to this process.
Involving families in Chaplaincy programs and services. By Eric
Lawson, Chaplaincy, Frontenac Institution.
The role of the chaplain at a minimum security institution with respect to families of
offenders is focused on release and reintegration.
Men are released daily from minimum
security with an expectation that they are prepared to live in the community, and Chaplaincy has
a role in this. This includes Chaplaincy involvement with Escorted Temporary Absences when
there is illness or death in the family.
Chaplaincy may be involved in meeting with family
members for men who are preparing for parole.
One area that Chaplaincy has been involved with is having family members attend
institutional worship services. Allowing men to attend worship services and events with family
members would help to strengthen the bond between the partners, to improve family
relationships and to prepare the entire family for reintegration. Following an incident at Kent
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
Institution in which a visitor was stabbed, a protocol was established by which all inside
participants who wish to attend a Chaplaincy service or program in which family members will
be present the event must be screened for any family violence by the Parole Officer. If there is
any indication of family violence, the man may be prevented from attending the event. Together
with the security procedures that are applied to the family members, the men and the volunteers
at Frontenac Institution decided to not have family members at the Chapel events. They found
the screening and security procedures were too disruptive, thus only a small number of family
members would attend.
The men and their families can worship together each weekend in the community if the
offender is eligible for Escorted Temporary Absences (ETA). The ETA permit must specify the
location of the religious service and the names of the family members who will attend and it
must be approved by the Warden.
Concerns in the marital relationship can be addressed prior to release. Minimum security
institutions are places where the offender and the family can be prepared for release and this can
be assisted by the Chaplain and Chapel activities.
Chaplaincy and incarcerated fathers. By Wayne McCrackin,
Chaplain, Beaver Creek Institution.
The men that I meet with regularly are in the last portion of their case management
plan. For some who are serving lengthy sentences this could mean that they are at Beaver
Creek Institution for several years, while for others this could mean for only a few months. For
each of the men that I deal with, however, they are anticipating reintegration with the outside
society and in particular with their families.
As a Chaplain, I encourage the men to speak with me about their families and the
complexity, challenges and blessings of that reunion. I find that they often idealize this reunion
and avoid planning for what awaits them. As tactfully as I can, I present some hypothetical
situations that may arise and then assist the men in a plan for these events should they occur.
reading program). This is a reading program for men who have young children.
Many of
these men have never spent time with their children outside of the institution. In this program
volunteers come to the institution and assist these dads in reading, onto audio tape, donated
story books to their children. The book and the tape are then mailed to the child. The dads are
allowed to give a short greeting to their child and some short closing remarks which often end
with, "Good night and daddy loves you." The men also write a short note in the front of the
story book.
The responses that we have received, from both the men and the families, have been
very positive. The men have indicated that their children often keep the books and the tape
right by their bed and want to listen to them every night before they go to sleep.
We see a program like this building a positive bridge between the dad and his children.
We also find that, through this program, the dads feel more comfortable speaking to us about
their children. I may also have contact with the primary custodial caregiver of the children or
be asked to write a letter of support for the men when they go before the parole board.
At Beaver Creek Institution, we often have men who encounter significant times of crisis
both within the institution and in situations within their families in the community. The case
management team sees the chaplain as a safe person for the offender to come and share his
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
At Beaver Creek Institution, we provide a program called ChIRP (children of inmates
grief. This grief can be very intense because the men are so close to being home but are still
unable to immediately be with their loved ones. I am always called upon to notify the men of
death or serious illness in their families. I am also highly supportive of allowing the men a
visit to their families in these times. I follow-up with these men in the weeks and months that
follow and offer them grief counselling.
With proper authorization, I will provide phone calls to hospitals and to the home in
times of crisis. It is very important for the men to hear the voice of a loved one at these times.
I will also do my best to connect with the families that I have spoken to when they come to the
institution for a family visit. I see these initiatives as laying some positive groundwork for the
reintegration process.
At our institution, we encourage the men to apply for escorted temporary absences
(ETA's) to the local churches in our community and I am involved in the screening process.
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
We train volunteers as citizen escorts to pick the approved men up at the institution and take
them to their church. I see this as a very positive and safe place for the men to socialize with
people from the community and I see self-confidence build in the men as they are accepted in
these faith communities. I keep close contact with the offenders, the escorts and the faith
communities and on occasion I attend these services with the men to monitor how this
integration is going.
Several of these churches have set up a prison-ministry team that
specialize in this ministry.
I initiate a volunteer appreciation evening once a year to thank the volunteers for their
work. Volunteers assist the incarcerated men by bringing together the often isolated offender
and the local community. Even though this community is not the offender's immediate family
they act as an initial bridge to the future release to home.
In summary I find the issue of "the family" being one of great concern for men in a
minimum setting. One of the greatest prices that the men pay is the separation from those they
love. One of the greatest concerns and fears, however, is whether the ones that they love will
be there for them when they return home. I feel that the chaplain can play a very important role
in assisting the men and their families in their reintegration back to their family and the
Transportation and volunteer accompaniment for families visiting
at Port-Cartier Institution. By Elizabeth Martin, Quebec
Coordinator, CFCN.
The transportation and volunteer accompaniment project first began when Elizabeth
Martin, Quebec Coordinator, CFCN, visited the institution as part of «Towards a greater
awareness of the needs of inmate families», a project funded by the National Crime Prevention
Centre in 2005. During her visit she met with the Warden and Deputy Warden, a cross-section
of correctional staff, including Parole and Visits and Correspondence Officers, as well as the
Inmate Committee. It became evident that one of the main concerns for families and inmates at
Port-Cartier Institution was the distance (13 hours north of Montreal) and lack of resources
once on site. Family ties are very fragile as visitors are few and phone calls are expensive.
During the visit the Inmate Committee asked Elizabeth Martin if it was possible for
travel each way and a full day in the institution. It was decided this was possible and contact
was made with the Warden. Port-Cartier Institution was asked to provide financially for the
visit which would include a three-day bus rental, two overnight accommodations and meals in
Port-Cartier for families and two volunteers.
The Warden agreed and coordination was
provided by the Deputy Warden.
Visits with volunteer accompaniment were conducted September 16-18, 2005,
December 2-4, 2005, and May 12-14, 2006. CFCN partnered with Mrs. Brigitte Lambert, the
institutional Chaplain and her team of volunteers.
They prepared a brochure outlining
accommodations and community services in Port-Cartier. In addition they made themselves
available during each visit to welcome the families and provide emotional or practical support
and hosted a community supper after the day-long visit.
In the summer of 2006, CFCN contacted the Warden, Inmate Committee and
Institutional Chaplain to suggest that Montreal Community Chaplaincy and Relais Famille
sponsor the project. In November 2006, Laurent Champagne, CSC Leclerc Chaplain and
Coordinator for Montreal Community Chaplaincy, visited Port-Cartier Institution to conduct a
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CFCN to coordinate a visit for families. The project would involve a three day trip: one day to
Restorative Justice initiative with staff and inmates. At that time, a new request to set up the
accompanied visits was accepted by the Deputy Warden.
In December, 2006, visits resumed with new volunteers. This has been a great
experience for all the participants and the team of two volunteers, one from Relais Famille and
the other from Montreal Community Chaplaincy, provide good support to the families. The
next visit is already being organized by Montreal Community Chaplaincy.
The following comments were gathered since the accompanied visits began in
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
September 2005.
There were difficulties related to realizing the project : distance, costs related to
transportation, lodging and meals and very limited resources in the small Port-Cartier
community. The results of the project have been: to help maintain family ties, stabilize the
inmates’ behaviour and contribute to inmates cascading toward a lower security institution.
This project put forth by CFCN permitted to offer family support though volunteer means.
The Institution financed the transportation, meals and accommodations. The inmates were
active in preparing the day long visit which kept them busy and contributed to a calm
atmosphere in the institution. The challenge remains: to maintain and encourage family ties
while reducing the risk of contraband trafficking.
Pierre Bernier, Warden Port-Cartier, October 2005
We watched the documentary, "Think twice" concerning contraband and we gave out CFCN
brochures. We had lengthy exchanges with the family members. This dialogue was
informative for all. The women who had participated in the first trip were glad to see one
another again and commented “this is like therapy”.
The correctional staff was professional, helpful and respectful. It was especially appreciated
that they responded quickly when the bus broke down and we needed to change our overnight
Wilbrod Dionne, CFCN volunteer, December 2005
I really appreciated the opportunity to participate in the staff planning meeting. It helped me
understand all the aspects of such an organisation. Even if it is unpleasant for the visitor,
security considerations are necessary and important. I was able to explain to a family member
that this was in their best interest as well as the security of the institution. That person
understood and accepted my explanation. These visits permit me to listen and offer support
with certain families and build trust.
Brigitte Lambert, Chaplain, Port-Cartier, December 2005
Security in a maximum institution is a priority. Families do pass the ion scan and go for a
risk evaluation if the ion scan detects. Families also have to leave the gym to go to the
washroom facilities accompanied. A drug dog is present and sniffs each person after
bathroom visit. Some children and adults were frightened by the dog and one family member
decided not to use bathroom which inconvenienced her greatly during the visit. However,
families are treated with respect and dignity. One family member was delayed for one hour by
preventive security after assessing it was probably her cough medicine which was the cause [of
the ion scan detection]. She was allowed in to visit. However on another occasion after risk
assessment a family member had to visit behind glass.
Elizabeth Martin, Quebec Coordinator, CFCN, December 2005
Each post-visit evaluation leads to improvement. The following visit is better structured and
awareness of treating families with dignity and respect is increased. We move closer to the
goal of maintaining families ties in view of a successful reintegration. My hope is that one
day, these visits will be officially recognized and funded as an effective component of
maintaining family ties and working toward successful reintegration.
Comments from family members
We could not drive this distance by ourselves – a mother and a grandmother
This is the first time I will see my big brother in 2 years - sister
It’s really hard to leave and I appreciate the support of the volunteer - mother
It’s good to be with others who understand what I am going though - partner
We appreciate the welcome by the volunteers and their efforts to make us feel comfortable. partner
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
Brigitte Lambert, Chaplain, Port-Cartier, January 2007
Private Family Visits. By Phill Ferris, Chaplain, Westmoreland
The Private Family Visiting (PFV) program is an officially sanctioned program in the
Correctional Service of Canada. It is an excellent tool to build relationships between inmates
and their families. Family relationships are an asset to reintegration.
I have been privileged over the years to have been invited to many Private Family Visits
(PFVs). In this informal setting, a sort of a home away from home, you meet the inmate and the
family on their territory. You witness the family dynamic in a very natural way. You can see
how parents relate to their children and the way the parents deal with each other. On occasion,
these visits can confirm your predetermined ideas of the family, while at other times, the visit
will change those notions. Often the family members begin to see the chaplain in a different way
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
as well. In the PFV units, the families will drop all the pretences that would be present in a CSC
office and even in a CSC chapel.
In the late 80's one of the lifers at Dorchester Penitentiary invited me to his PFV to meet
his wife. In those days, the PFV unit was a 3-bedroom mobile home. When I arrived, I was
witness to a frenzy of cleaning because he couldn’t stand to see the condition of the entire unit
and especially the kitchen. The inmate wanted it clean so that his wife would be able to relax. I
was able to see how they complemented each other, how they laughed through the situation and
how they handled their frustration. We played a few games together, dined together and I left. I
was invited to every PFV he had after that.
In the years since that first PFV, I have had the privilege of visiting many families.
When they hear that I have my own troubles with a son in and out of prison they open up to me
about their concerns.
I have tried to get other staff, particularly Parole Officers, to visit the PFVs and I have
even dragged one or two there. I think that they have been blessed by this, though they may be
reluctant to admit it. I would encourage all staff and chaplains to accept invitations to the Private
Family Visiting units. All staff would benefit from the experience.
Other contractors
Establishing a continuum of care for families of offenders. By
Lloyd Withers.
The role of CSC staff and contractors with respect to the family of the offender is, first
and foremost, to provide information and referral services.
Families do not necessarily
understand the correctional process or how a correctional facility functions.
In order to assist CSC with information, referral, education and reintegration needs, the
Canadian Families and Corrections Network (CFCN) has piloted a continuum of care for
families. There are three components to the approach:
1. Intake and assessment: Family-based orientation to new offenders
3. Reintegration: Family group decision-making for reintegration.
1. Intake and assessment: Family-based orientation to new offenders and to
their families.
One of the first mandated requirements in intake and assessment is that the offender can
place a phone call to his/her family (CD 501). This is followed by an orientation that includes
information about CSC's obligations to families, the approval of lists for phone calls and visiting
forms. There are variations across the Regions with respect to what happens during offender
orientation with respect to families and the required components that are summarized in CD
705-4. Normally this would include an explanation of visiting procedures and the various forms
that the offender and/or the family will need, such as Visiting Forms and Common-law status
Declaration. While the Private Family Visits program may be described in the institutional
orientation, applications may not be responded to by staff until the offender arrives at the parent
institution, at least when it is the offender's first federal admission.
There is an expectation that the offender will orient his or her family. However, intake
may be too important a time for family orientation to be solely the responsibility of the offender.
As Guy LaCroix, Regional Orientation Officer (ON) states:
"In the best of all worlds,
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
2. During incarceration: Visitor Resource Centres, and
orientation in the Millhaven Assessment Unit would include sessions for both the offender and
the family." Canada's geographic size and the locations of some federal institutions, however,
may mean that the offender is incarcerated far from family. This can significantly affect service
points to families of offenders, including opportunities for orientation that would include both
the offender and the family.
Other creative approaches are needed.
Families may experience less stress and
confusion if, early in the correctional process, they are provided with good information. This
includes information about the federal correctional process, security procedures and the drug
interdiction strategy. Information about visiting, relationship maintenance and programs and
services that are available to them in the community is also useful and remains useful throughout
the sentence.
In 2003, CSC provided Contributions funding to the Canadian Families and Corrections
Network (CFCN) for a family-based demonstration project during intake and assessment at the
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
Millhaven Assessment Unit, Millhaven Institution, Ontario Region. The CFCN began another
pilot in 2007 at Le Centre régional de réception, Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines, Quebec Region, with
funding from the National Crime Prevention Centre. The approach uses a Coordinator Family
Support (CFS) worker who is a representative from the voluntary sector, to provide a familybased orientation to new offenders.
Key concepts presented during the family-based orientation include:
Restorative justice, healing and harm reduction
Families of offenders are harmed, directly and indirectly, by criminal behaviour
Families 'do time' as well
Good information is harm reduction- "Families need good information"
Reducing intergenerational criminal behaviour
Truth telling - “Telling the children about incarceration”
“A visit with children is a visit for the children”
“A parent in prison is still a parent”
Financial harm reduction
Geographical harm reduction
Emotional harm reduction
Emotional cycle of incarceration
Search procedures and the drug interdiction strategy
Pressuring – “One person/one parent in prison is enough”
™ Reducing health risks – “Risky behaviour puts the family at risk of infectious
™ Truth telling - “Families really want to hear restorative comments, but only if
they are true.”
™ Truth telling - "Writing a restorative justice letter home."
™ Community organizations that can assist families
A sample of some of the comments that participants offered about the family-based
orientation included the following:
"The entire content was very helpful and necessary for a person who wishes to bring
his life to the right track and to also bring the most important person in his life closer
in order to help him succeed."
"This program really put a lot in perspective for me in regards to my family situation made more clear to me exactly what they're going through."
"It helped me to understand how hard it is for families to have someone they love be
incarcerated. It also made me gain knowledge that I can also help in reducing the
emotional hardship."
"I was thoroughly impressed to know that the institution offers such positive
reinforcement in regards to family relationships."
"After spending four federal sentences, we need to stress to offenders that trying to
control our wives outside will never work!!! 100% from experience."
Kevin MacInnis, A/AWCP at Millhaven during the project, reinforced the importance of
the project and its approach to families of offenders during intake (Correctional Service of
Canada (2006d):
I have called the CFS project a "best kept secret." It has been a secret in the sense
that a lot of what happens is not seen. While there is a presentation to the newcomers,
the focus of the project is the families in the community. On a day-to-day basis, we
don't see the families or the impact that the project is having on them. What we may
see in the institution is that the offenders may be calmer knowing that they can do
something to assist their families, such as having the family orientation material sent
to their families. They also have a designated and trusted person that their family can
call for further information or support.
As part of the orientation, the offender voluntarily provided family contact information
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
"Makes you think about the victims and where you should start to rebuild, and an
understanding that there is help out there."
to the CFS worker and orientation material was mailed directly to the family. The family could
telephone a toll-free number to request further information or referral to institutional or
community services. The toll-free number was considered important within the project so that
families would not be financially impacted when seeking information or referral. The majority
of requests received on the toll-free line related to incarceration issues and about 'what happens
now.' This included questions around the safety of the offender, policy and procedures related
to visiting, parole, and questions about when offenders would begin required programs or
The family's own mental health issues and the family's ability to cope with
incarceration was the next most common presenting concern, followed by parenting/child
behavioural issues, reintegration planning as a family and interpersonal communication and
conflict resolution.
Following the CFS project rollup, the Regional Chaplain (ON) provided funding to the
CFCN to continue selected parts of the family-based orientation under a "Life Meaning" project.
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
This project describes to the offender the four parts of Chaplaincy, as found in the Memorandum
of Understanding (Appendix A) between the Correctional Service of Canada and the Interfaith
Committee on Chaplaincy:
Chaplaincy services available within an institution
Links to the community through community chaplaincy, Circles of Support and
Accountability, and voluntary sector organizations
Restorative justice
Family and marital ties, including the role of the incarcerated parent.
About 50% of the offenders who attend the family-based orientation request that
orientation material be mailing to their family. The toll-free number continues to be available
for information and referral to families in both official languages.
2. During incarceration - Visitor Resource Centres
Visitor Resource Centres (VRCs) currently operate at Bath Institution, Collins Bay
Institution, Joyceville Institution and at Kingston Penitentiary.
In the VRC component,
volunteers are trained and supervised to provide services to families in the Visits and
Correspondence Area. They provide information and referral to community or institutional
resources, interim support and education on relationship maintenance during incarceration.
The VRC component also provides activities to strengthen the parent-child bond. The
philosophy is that, if the children are at the visit then the children need to be the focus of the
visit. VRC volunteers provide crafts, games and activities for the child to do with the parent.
Children remain the responsibility of the incarcerated parent. As required, the VRC volunteers
model appropriate parenting behaviour and reinforce effective parenting behaviour when such
behaviour is seen.
Service provision to families can be complex. It is critical that the volunteers have a
good understanding of CSC policies and practices and can work in partnership with CSC staff.
Equally important is volunteer training on how to provide effective services to families.
3. Reintegration: Family Group Decision-making for Reintegration.
How to engage the family in release and reintegration planning in an important
consideration. In a recent study of provincial probation officers in Manitoba, Bonta and Rugge
need was not necessarily included in the correctional plan. They also noted that most probation
officers spent a significant portion of the interview time discussing family issues with offenders
on their caseload. While a similar study has not been completed for federal Parole Officers, it is
likely that there is a need there as well.
One possible means of engaging the family is Family Group Decision-making for
Reintegration (FGDMR). Currently being piloted at Frontenac Institution (Ontario Region) and
at Montée St. Francois Institution (Quebec Region), FGDMR is a restorative justice approach in
which families:
a) participate in a Family Group Conference at least two months prior to the
offender's release (restorative justice component);
b) prepare a written family-based reintegration plan focusing on the seven factors for
family and community reintegration success (correctional / reintegration
c) work with a mentoring team made up of community volunteers that supports the
family for up to one year, post release (community engagement component).
The family and offender both go through separate intake interviews during which the
FGDMR process is described and the requirement to sign a one-year accountability contract is
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
(2004) found that, while offenders had family need identified as a reintegration factor, family
discussed. Contraindications are identified during intake interviews with the FGDMR facilitator
and during discussions with the offender's Parole Officer. Indicators that FGDMR may not be
appropriate include: evidence of power imbalance in the family or unaddressed family safety
issues (potential for family violence, sexual abuse, violence against children); refusal on the part
of the offender or the family to participate in “truth-telling”; refusal by the offender to
participate in aspects of the CSC correctional plan; denial of security clearance for family
members to visit; and the family's lack of capacity to provide appropriate support and
The next step is the Family Group Conference (FGC). The FGC is a meeting of the
entire family with the offender.
Leadership is provided by an FGDMR facilitator.
volunteers who will form a community mentoring team to support the family, post release, also
attend. The agenda for an FGC is as follows:
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
1. Introductions - Who are you and what brings you to the FGC?
2. Teaching component - What is restorative justice? What are the seven factors
that are important in successful reintegration?
3. Truth telling (offender) - What was the offence? What happened in the offence
and who was harmed?
4. Truth telling (offender) - What happened to your family? (The offender reads a
written 'restorative' letter and provides each family member with some article
that is symbolic of restitution for the harm that he or she caused to each of
5. Truth telling (family) - What does the family want to say to the offender? (The
family members' responses to the offender about how they were harmed, the
contents of the restorative letter and the symbol of restitution.)
6. What are the needs? Family members work separately to identify reintegration
7. Making things right (or as right as possible) - Family members work together to
prepare a family plan that meets the identified reintegration needs.
8. Closing of the FGC circle.
The family must engage themselves in the formation of the plan, not insist that a plan be
formulated and applied to the family. The facilitator may end the FGC at any point if
contraindications become evident.
The facilitator and volunteers on the community mentoring team assist the family in
making the plan work for up to one year following the offender's release by providing support
and accountability to the offender. This occurs through regular meetings with the family and the
offender in the community. Meetings are weekly for the first six weeks of community and
family reintegration, followed by a minimum of one meeting per month.
Successes are
reinforced and additional family and community resources are identified to address reintegration
The Correctional Service of Canada supports many voluntary sector agencies through
The John Howard Society of Nova Scotia Transportation for Families, providing
transportation for families through four trips per year to Atlantic, Dorchester and
Westmorland Institutions.
The John Howard Society of Newfoundland and Labrador Private Family Visits for Federal
Inmates, providing assisted transportation for families to visit family members at federal
institutions in Atlantic Canada.
Continuité famille auprès des détenues, providing support for mother-child relationships
during reintegration.
M2W2 Association, assisting to maintain positive family relationships and to alleviate the
impact of incarceration on families in CSC’s Pacific Region.
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Vancouver, assisting offenders in CSC’s Pacific
Region to maintain family ties, including counselling for offenders and their families.
The Salvation Army in CSC’s Pacific Region receives funding to assist families to maintain
family ties, assisting in the reintegration of offenders and alleviating the impact of
incarceration on families through counselling and emotional support.
The John Howard Society of the Fraser Valley provides transportation for families and lowcost, short-term accommodation.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada - Mentoring Children with Incarcerated Parents is a
three-year project for mentoring children of incarcerated parents. Volunteer mentors are
trained and matched to work with children of incarcerated parents (grades 2-5) who have one
or two parents incarcerated.
Building partnerships with community organizations is a cost-effective means of
providing services to families.
Each project adds to the continuum of care that supports
families as an asset during incarceration and reintegration.
Part III. Engaging the family in the correctional process
Contributions Agreements. Projects that have received funding in recent years have included:
Part IV. Assessing family need
The parenting roles of incarcerated mothers. By Gordana
Eljdupovic-Guzina, C. Psych., Grand Valley Institution.
When a mother is federally sentenced, there is a significant impact on both the mother
and the children. Their role as mother is a major concern to them both during incarceration and
upon reintegration.
The incarceration of the mother also has a significant impact on the
continuity of care for the children.
Eljdupovic-Guzina (1999) studied a sample of 426 federally sentenced women whose
Offender Intake Assessments (OIAs) contained domain comments related to parenting and
She compared her findings with those of the Survey of Federally Sentenced Women
(Shaw et al, 1990). This comparison was important, given that several recommendations on
women’s parenting roles outlined in “Creating Choices: Report of the Task Force on Federally
Sentenced Women”(Correctional Service of Canada, 1990) were based on the Survey.
In her review of the literature, Eljdupovic-Guzina (1999) found that studies have
indicated that separation from children due to incarceration creates tremendous pain in women
and can seriously affect their well-being (Hairston, 1992; Heney, 1996; Shaw et al., 1990; Wine,
1992). Some women choose not to have contact with their children because of the stigma
children (Hairston, 1992; Shaw et al., 1990). In many instances, it is the woman’s parents who
become the care provider for the children, and they may be elderly and may be facing their own
difficulties (Bloom, 1992; Shaw et al., 1990). Some care providers report that becoming the care
provider negatively affects their financial situation, and this may result in a lower quality of care
for the children (Bloom, 1992).
Children whose mothers are incarcerated may experience greater changes in their daily
lives than those children whose fathers are incarcerated. If the mother was the sole care provider
for her children, then the children lose their primary care provider and may be more likely to
experience changes in residence, and thus change in schools and friends (Stanton, 1980; Watson,
Part IV. Assessing family need
associated with being in prison and because they find conditions in the institution unsuitable for
1995; Wine, 1992; Woodrow, 1992). Some mothers, however, were not the primary care
provider of their children prior to incarceration. Some women had given up custody or had lost
custody of their children prior to incarceration (Goldberg et al, 1997; Shaw et al., 1990). In
other instances, they had made informal arrangements with family members to take on the
everyday care of their children. While some women did not live full-time with their children
prior to incarceration, they may have maintained contact. Incarceration reduces contact even
Both Shaw et al. (1990) and Eljdupovic-Guzina (1999) found that the vast majority of
federally incarcerated women are mothers of minor children (64.5% by Shaw et al., 1990, and
81.2% by Eljdupovic-Guzina, 1999). Most of the women in both samples had between one and
three children. In both studies over half of the women had primary responsibility for at least one
of their children prior to their offending and incarceration.
Eljdupovic-Guzina (1999) found that there was a statistically significant difference
between her sample and that of Shaw et al.'s (1990) sample in the living arrangements of those
women who were primary care providers for one or more of their children.
There were
proportionately more single mothers in Shaw et al.'s (1990) sample, whereas in her sample
proportionately more women with children lived with their partner. Eljdupovic-Guzina (1999)
found that for some of the mothers, their care-providing role and living arrangements were stable
and secure.
For other mothers, she found that it was often difficult to determine living
arrangements and women’s involvement in childcare. This arose from sudden, unpredictable
changes in the lives of the mothers, including changes or disruptions in mother-child contact due
Part IV. Assessing family need
to the loss of custody due to substance abuse, mental health problems or previous incarcerations.
With respect to childcare arrangements during the mothers’ incarceration, both Shaw et
al. (1990) and Eljdupovic-Guzina (1999) found that most of the women relied on their children’s
grandparents, usually maternal grandmothers. Eljdupovic-Guzina (1999) found that children
resided with a grandparent most often (30.8%), followed by residing with their father (26.9%),
foster care or Children’s Aid Society (16.9%), and other relatives (15.4%).
Of the other
children, 12.2 % were adult children on their own and 15% were in other arrangements,
including having been adopted at an early age, with other friends, or with a step-father.
Eljdupovic-Guzina (1999) notes that, while it might be expected that the children would
live with the father upon the mother’s incarceration, this was not usually the case. She was
unable to determine the reasons for this phenomenon, nor does she offer any potential
explanations such as if the father was also incarcerated as a co-accused, if the father had been
murdered by the mother, if the relationship with the father ended during incarceration and the
father did not continue as the care provider, and so on.
Eljdupovic-Guzina (1999) also examined the women’s contacts with their children
during incarceration. While there was limited data in this area, available data suggests that the
majority of women had contact with their children during incarceration, and that the most
frequent means of contact were visits and/or phone calls. The frequency of contact ranged from
daily phone calls to an “occasional” phone call or a visit every one to two months. It appeared
that most mothers who had lived with their children full-time before incarceration maintained
contact with their children during incarceration. However, even women who did not live with
their children prior to incarceration also maintained contact with their children during
Eljdupovic-Guzina's (1999) findings support the necessity to continue to assist women in
their roles as mothers. The authors of the “Guidelines of Parenting Skills Programs for Federally
Sentenced Women” (Correctional Service of Canada, 1995, p. 8) state that “... there is virtually
no information on the parenting styles or skills of Federally Sentenced Women.” However,
parenting practices emerge and develop within a specific context. For that reason it is not
sufficient to know solely about the parenting skills that women may have or may need to learn.
These skills need to be assessed and understood in relation to women’s notions of motherhood,
interwoven with their childhood experiences of being parented. Because of the abuse and
dysfunction in the parental homes of many of these women, it is of great relevance to examine
the “internal models of parenting,” that women may have developed under these circumstances.
These “internal models” often represent guidelines for one's own parenting style and the
relationship a parent establishes with his/her own children (Jenner & McCarthy, 1995). They
may also represent clear guidelines as to what a parent is determined not to repeat. In view of
women’s possible experiences and notions of parenting, it is clear that the parenting program
needs to have a strong experiential component that will allow women to make connections
between their parenting practices and their “internal models of parenting” stemming from their
childhoods. Another aspect to be considered in connection to women’s parenting skills is the
Part IV. Assessing family need
how they perceive themselves as mothers and the ways in which their parenting practices are
particular situation of their children in terms of possible behavioural and emotional reactions to
their mothers’ incarceration and the stigma associated with it.
Eljdupovic-Guzina (1999) concludes with recommendations on further research on the
- The likelihood that the patterns of parenting and childhood experiences to which
women were exposed shape their own relationships with children and affect the mother
and child, both during incarceration and in subsequent reintegration;
-The connections between childcaring patterns before incarceration and women’s needs
to maintain or establish contact with children during incarceration, with a view to
determining the different needs and psychological challenges faced by women according
to their circumstances.
- Further exploration is required on the relevance of distinguishing between women’s
needs and others’ assumptions as to what their needs may be, with respect to maintaining
contact with children.
Further study is of great relevance for assisting women with their mothering needs during
incarceration and reintegration. Incarceration may lead to a mother re-assessing her priorities as
Part IV. Assessing family need
a parent and thus serve as a motivation for change.
Incarcerated Fathers.
By Lloyd Withers, National
Coordinator, CFCN, and Jean Folsom, Director of
Psychology and Rehabilitation Services, Regional
Treatment Centre (ON).
There is limited Canadian data on federally incarcerated fathers and their children.
Paternal incarceration and reintegration, however, have significant collateral consequences on
the family and on the community, including a potential influence on intergenerational criminal
behaviour. The lack of demographic information hampers interventions and policy and program
Withers and Folsom (2007) studied a sample of 534 federally sentenced male offenders
who attended the "A Restorative Justice Approach to Families" orientation at Millhaven
Assessment Unit. Participants were approached to complete a self-report questionnaire on
family demographics, criminal activity, drug and/or alcohol use, financial and educational status
and parent-child contact during incarceration.
The study found that 31.6% of the participants were custodial fathers, that is, fathers
who had children who were living with them (23.6%) or fathers who had children who lived
with them as well as children who did not (8%), and 21.2% were non-custodial fathers (ie.
fathers who had children who did not live with them.
Demographic variable
Number of Percentage of
participants participants
Custodial father, only
Custodial father, but also had non-custodial children
Non-custodial fathers
Not a father or did not have children under 18 years of age
Part IV. Assessing family need
Table 1
Parental status of fathers at time of arrest. (From Withers and Folsom, 2007, p. 4).
The 534 incarcerated fathers had 595 children under the age of 18 who were affected by
paternal incarceration. The study extrapolated from the data to estimate that there are 357,604
Canadian children affected by paternal incarceration (federally, provincially and territorially), or
4.6% of the total population of Canadian children who are 19 years of age or younger.
With respect to the age of the children, Withers and Folsom (2007) found that 29.4% of
the children were under 5 years of age and 65.4% of the children were under 10 years of age.
The average age of children who lived with their father at the time of the father's arrest was 7
years of age, whereas that of children who did not live with their father was 8 years of age. The
child's mother provided a continuity of care, as the mother was the current caregiver in 80% of
the cases of the custodial fathers and in 76% of the cases of the non-custodial fathers. Other
caregivers were grandparents, other relatives, friends or the Children’s Aid Society. A small
proportion of fathers was unaware of who was caring for their children while they were
The fathers reported frequent telephone contact with their children (i.e. 33.6% - 69.0%
on a daily to almost weekly basis). They also reported a high frequency of mail contact (i.e.
20.4% - 50.0% on a daily or almost weekly basis). They reported receiving a much smaller
number of visits from their children (i.e. 5.3% – 16.3% on a daily or almost weekly basis).
Withers and Folsom (2007) found that the criminal history variables of the fathers were
Part IV. Assessing family need
almost all higher than those of the non-fathers. The difference, however, was accounted for by
the higher scores of the non-custodial fathers. The custodial fathers did not differ from the nonfathers, while non-custodial fathers reported more problems with substance abuse and more
involvement in criminal activity than the other two groups. The study also showed that the preincarceration lifestyle of the fathers may include a significant criminal history, drug and alcohol
abuse, financial difficulties, a family member being a victim of the index offence, and other
family members being involved in criminal activity. It may include the child being a victim of
the index offence. The pre-incarceration lifestyle of the custodial father may also include
homelessness, as 7.1% of the custodial fathers and 2.3% of the fathers who were concurrently
custodial and non-custodial fathers indicated that they were homeless at the time of offence or
admission. Withers and Folsom (2007) thus conclude that paternal incarceration is only one in a
series of negative life events that impact on the life of the child of an incarcerated father.
Interventions aimed at family factors may have important crime prevention aspects not
only for the incarcerated father but also for the child, as Withers and Folsom (2007) found that
9% of the fathers had at least one child under the age of 18 who had been in conflict with the
law. Extrapolating from this data, it was estimated that children of federally sentenced fathers
are two to four times more likely to be in conflict with the law than Canadian children in
general. Parent training for an incarcerated father could be considered as a primary intervention
for the child if it includes innovative approaches to engage the incarcerated father, and possibly
the entire family, in preventing youth crime. Incarcerated fathers may be open to this because,
regardless of their own pattern of offending, they do not want their children to end up
Part IV. Assessing family need
Restorative justice in cases of family violence. By Scott
Harris, Restorative Justice Unit, Correctional Service of
Frank wasn’t sure what to do next. Every internal warning system was going off. This
was not a good case. He’d just hung up the phone from talking with Deborah. Prison officials
had referred Deborah to Frank several weeks earlier after they received a request from her to
visit with her ex-common-law, John.
John was serving a four year sentence for a convenience store robbery. Normally,
Deborah’s request would have gone before the visit review board. But this case was different,
John had a prior conviction for being violent with his first wife. While he’d never been
convicted of assaulting Deborah, staff were worried nonetheless.
When they talked with
Deborah, they’d learned that, in fact, there had been what she called, “mutual violence” and
that she had even laid a complaint against him at one time. Her reason for wanting to see John
was to figure out whether he had changed. She was worried about the fact that he would soon
be released and that their son might want to see his father.
John learned about the request from his parole officer and was less than thrilled with the
“She’s a mixed-up junkie,” he’d said.
Since coming to prison, he’d taken the
substance abuse program and anger management program. He felt horrible about his violence
toward her, saying they were both addicts at the time. He said that he knew she was still using.
Part IV. Assessing family need
He was suspicious about Deborah’s motives – worrying that she just wanted to get back
together – which he felt he couldn’t do. And yet, what was he supposed to do about his son?
He’d need to face her eventually.
Seeing the complexities of this relationship, it was referred to the victim offender
mediation program which is where Frank came into the picture. He was leery of the referral.
In his mind, the potential for future violence was high. When he called Deborah though, he’d
learned that she had been clean for six months and was now dating an old acquaintance. She
felt that she needed to close the door on the issues between her and John, so that they could all
move on with their lives. Her biggest issue was whether John had changed and whether she
could trust her son with him. If it had just been her, she’d have just gotten on with her life, but
it wasn’t just her. She’d need to face John.
The use of restorative justice approaches in family violence cases has been the source of
much discussion over the last decade. Academics, advocates and practitioners recognize that
family violence is unlike other crimes. It is a crime that is endured in private and weaves itself
into the context of relationships that are bound by practical considerations (i.e. money, shelter,
children), emotional considerations (i.e. love, attraction, dependency) and moral considerations
(i.e. social/religious values). At the same time, it is a crime of public concern, especially when
it surfaces in the extremes of murder. Advocates against family violence have spent much of
the last thirty years drawing the issue into the public’s attention and raising awareness so that
safety and security would take priority over other considerations.
When restorative justice began to appear more prominently on the official criminal
justice agenda, these same advocates against family violence were suspicious. In some ways,
restorative justice threatened to return family violence to a private affair, in which little, if any,
protection could be afforded to victims. The restorative justice community responded with
mixed reaction. Some agreed and labelled family violence “off-limits” from restorative justice
approaches. Others countered that restorative justice was the only meaningful place that victims
could confront their abusers. As such, the importance lay not in making family violence cases
off limits for restorative justice interventions but in finding the right tools to manage the risks.
And this is largely where the debate has lingered.
In a thorough review of the arguments for and against restorative justice in cases of
family violence, Tomporowski (2006) identified four principle arguments against its use. These
The dynamics of family violence may prevent some victims from participating
meaningfully – as they temper their own contributions to placate their partner or their
extended community. Coercion and power imbalances are frequently noted.
Restorative justice may be perceived as decriminalizing and privatizing domestic
violence, and, in a subtle way, suggesting that it is on the fringe of “acceptable”
Restorative justice values are incompatible with abusive behaviours and perpetrators
are likely to make manipulative use of standard restorative justice tools (i.e. apology,
remorse, promises of change, and reparation/gifts)
Some communities will vary in their denunciation of domestic violence and in some
cases, victims will be transformed into the wrongdoer.
Part IV. Assessing family need
On the other side of the balance, arguments in favour of its use include:
Experimental initiatives where they have occurred have shown positive results.
Some women find it empowering to confront their abuser in an environment of
Restorative justice approaches provide an opportunity for a broad range of
partnerships with community agencies to create a network of safety for the family
Applying restorative justice principles in the community can create better
opportunities to transform social values and to crystallize broad based disapproval
than traditional legal processes.
In addition to reviewing the above arguments, a number of key recommendations were
identified within the literature in terms of elements of effective responses including the
Part IV. Assessing family need
Engaging domestic violence experts in program and process design;
Developing and monitoring rigorous practice standards;
Ensuring that the principles of restorative justice drive program delivery;
Obtaining adequate resources in order to ensure that safety planning and support are
Consistently using existing risk assessment tools, both in terms of risk presented by
the offender and risk within the victim's environment;
Ensuring that victims are provided the maximum possible opportunity to make
informed choices about the process;
Placing absolute priority on the physical safety of the victim both in the immediate
and foreseeable future;
Abandoning traditional notions of mediator/facilitator impartiality to ensure that
there is proactive power balancing in favour of the victims;
Ensuring that external resource partners are involved in each case;
Emphasing long-term preparation and follow-up with each case.
While the general context of this dialogue remains cautious, there is an increasing
awareness that professional reluctance to engage restorative justice processes in family violence
is no longer an adequate response. Refusing to respond to these referrals, in fact, compounds
the complaint that justice becomes private – forcing victim and offender to resolve their
concerns away from the prying eyes of outside help.
In the backdrop of this discussion, experts in the field of domestic violence are
themselves developing more effective mechanisms for assessing and managing the risks
associated with family violence. As such, increased blending between the two fields seems
In the interim, this remains a complex area for restorative justice and will require
cautious but ambitious, ongoing development through focussed consultation between family
Part IV. Assessing family need
violence experts and restorative justice practitioners.
Families as the original 'circle
accountability.' By Lloyd Withers.
The family of origin (the family into which we are born) or of creation (the family which
we make for ourselves) is the original 'circle of support and accountability.' Our families are
formative in the process of making us who we are and how we inter-relate with others.
Offenders come with some kind of family experience: close, distant, absent, with formal
or informal support. For some offenders, gang affiliation may serve many of the formal and
informal functions that a family provides. Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) is
another type of 'surrogate family' for the high risk sex offender.
"Dilemmas" in service provision to families of offenders
During a national consultation on families that was funded by the Government of
Canada's Voluntary Sector Initiative (VSI), Withers (2003) identified several dilemmas that
may interfere with a co-ordinated and consistent strategy to deal with families within the
correctional system. These dilemmas are:
1. jurisdictional dilemma
2. ecological dilemma
3. risk management dilemma
4. geographical dilemma
Part IV. Assessing family need
5. research dilemma
6. resource dilemma
7. role dilemma
8. criminalization dilemma
9. continuity dilemma
1. Jurisdictional dilemma.
Who is responsible for ensuring services to the families of federal offenders? While the
Federal Government is ultimately responsible for the well being of all Canadians, and the
family of the offender is found throughout CSC's mission and legal mandate, transfer payments
to the provinces ensure that social support to families are a provincial and/or municipal
responsibility. Offenders first enter the provincial and territorial correctional system. Some
offenders will be federally sentenced and will serve that sentence in a federal correctional
The jurisdictional dilemma arises for families when they attempt to access services. It is
not uncommon for marital partners of federally sentenced offenders, when accessing provincial
or municipal services, to be directed to federal services or services at the federal correctional
facility. When they attempt to access services at the correctional facility, they may be informed
that there are no or limited services and that they need to access provincial or municipal
services. Alternately, the family may attempt to access the services of a voluntary sector or
interdepartmental and jurisdictional lines, their funding is limited. The family ends up feeling
frustrated and confused and their capacity to provide support and accountability decreases.
2. Ecological dilemma.
The relationship between the offender, the family and correctional personnel is
complicated and with competing demands. Within the federal correctional process, the first
contact between the family and correctional staff or contractors is often the Post Sentence
Community Assessment (PSCA). The PSCA usually occurs before the family begins to visit at
a correctional facility and involves the family being interviewed by a parole officer. The focus
from the family member about the reasons for the recent conviction. This contact is a potential
opportunity to support the family through the provision of accurate information and referral and
to identify any safety and quality of life issues.
During the VSI consultations, families of offenders in Kingston, Hamilton and
Abbotsford discussed the PSCA as exclusively focussed on risk management related to criminal
behaviour, substance use by the offender, and concern for family violence. Some families felt
enlisted to be "secondary parole officers" whose role was to provide supervision and
information on the offender. Families felt that there was little concern that they were in crisis
because of their involvement in the justice and corrections process or that there was any concern
Part IV. Assessing family need
of the PSCA is to evaluate family and community support and to obtain collateral information
with relationship maintenance. Some felt judged or criticized for maintaining a relationship
with the offender. Others felt like they were treated as a co-accused.
The next contact with the correctional process is typically during the visiting program at
the institution. Visitor Security Control and the Visits and Correspondence Department at a
federal correctional institution are not programs-oriented areas. Their focus is on security and
on dealing with risk and safety.
The actions of some family members who introduce
contraband into an institution determine security responses that affect the visiting experience for
all visitors. The result is that families feel that the most restrictive level of security is generally
applied at all institutional security levels. Families discussed the constant scrutiny of being
under suspicion for introducing contraband into the institution, including the use of search
procedures that are not applied to correctional staff. Some participants called for the same
treatment for all persons entering a correctional facility, suggesting a democratization of search
procedures and applying them to both staff and families.
Families requested a principle of accommodation, that is a greater range of responses, to
assist them in maintaining their relationship, because relationship maintenance often requires
great financial and emotional cost to the family. Some families, for example, did not feel that
their needs were taken into consideration when decisions were made to transfer an offender
without notice to the family or when the Visiting area was closed due to exceptional
circumstances and the family did not receive any notification prior to travelling a significant
Part IV. Assessing family need
distance to visit the offender.
The ecological dilemma also appeared to affect institutional and community Chaplains,
Elders and Aboriginal Liaison Officers, whose current duties include some level of service to
families. Some experienced negative responses from other staff for working with, or being
identified as being supportive of, families of offenders.
The ecological dilemma contains attitudinal elements that may be difficult to change.
Attitude cannot be legislated by policy. Establishing an environment in which positive family
contact can be maintained requires as much diligence as managing safety and security risks.
Treating family members with dignity and respect does not violate the security of a correctional
3. Risk management dilemma
Operational decisions must be based on the safety of others, including that of family
members, correctional staff, and the public. These concerns must be paramount. Some family
members understand this. Unfortunately, the actions of other family members impact the
security procedures and the visiting experience of all families. Contraband jeopardizes the
family's safety, the offender's safety and the safety of correctional staff.
Decision makers, when faced with the consequences of critical decisions around safety
concerns and risk, will err on the side of caution. This includes risk management decisions
related to the potential of family violence in the Private Family Visits program or during
institutional community days that are attended by families. Decision makers also need to ensure
that the consequences for the family are not increased or exacerbated beyond what could be
reasonably expected at a particular institutional security level in order to maintain everyone's
4. Geographical dilemma
The geographical dilemma is evident on many levels.
The offender is physically
separated from family and community. Several quality of life issues for families result from
this and a variety of strategies are needed to address it. Federal correctional facilities may be
located at a significant distance from the family. Many facilities are geographically isolated and
not on public transportation corridors. It can be expensive and time-consuming for families to
The John Howard Society of Ontario and the John Howard Society of Nova Scotia
operate a transportation service that provides some financial respite for families. The John
Howard Society of Newfoundland receives funding to assist a limited number of families
annually to travel to the mainland to visit their incarcerated family members because there is no
federal correctional facility in Newfoundland.
The distances involved for family members to visit can often limit contact and add
considerable expense to families that are already coping with financial burdens. Telephone calls
play a major role in relationship maintenance during incarceration, including maintaining the
parental bonds between an incarcerated parent and his/her children. Recent changes to the
Part IV. Assessing family need
visit their incarcerated family member.
telephone system, whereby the offender can pay for the call, may ease the financial burden to
One of the significant contributions of the voluntary sector and the faith community is
the operation of hospitality houses. These houses provide low-cost accommodation for families,
primarily women with young children, who travel from other communities to visit at a federal
correctional facility. The houses also provide emotional support and some programming for
families while at the residence. Staff also address some of the concerns related to visiting.
There are currently five hospitality houses operating in Canada: Spring House in Springhill,
Nova Scotia, Mountain Top House, in Dorchester, New Brunswick, Bridge House I and II in
Kingston, Ontario, and Sylvia's House in Abbotsford, British Columbia.
The geographical dilemma is relevant to engaging the family in programs and services.
Expectations of family support by correctional staff may need to take into consideration the
distance of the family. Otherwise, expectations related to participation may pose an unrealistic
financial and time commitment burden on the families. This includes attempts to provide
orientation to new visitors because families do not wish an orientation that interferes with or
takes time away from their visit. Daylong or weekend-long relationship enrichment events, for
example, may be more feasible than ongoing, weekly programs or services.
5. Research dilemma
What works, for whom, and under what circumstances, is a complicated question.
Part IV. Assessing family need
Interest in families is growing among researchers because the family of the offender is one of
the dynamic factors that can affect reintegration success.
The Correctional Service of Canada has a progressive policy with respect to the family,
with the Private Family Visiting program, with family violence programming, with sex offender
treatment programs, and with cognitive-behavioural approaches. There is also an appropriate
concern about risk management and screening for family violence.
Further quantitative and qualitative research related to families affected by incarceration
and reintegration is needed so that resources can be effectively allocated. For their part, family
members call for effective programs that assist the offender to address the issues that resulted in
incarceration and to assist him/her to begin a crime-free lifestyle.
6. Resource dilemma
Since funding is limited, it makes sense to focus on services and programs related to
crime prevention and successful reintegration. Are services to families value-added services,
given limited financial resources, or is it preferable to expend limited financial resources in
other target areas such as employment skills, substance abuse, criminogenic thinking, problemsolving and decision-making skills? Because family factors are as important to conditional
release success as employment (Serin and Brown, 2002), it makes sense to fund programs and
services for families.
7. Role dilemma
Incarceration may be only one of many difficulties that the family has had to deal with.
Correctional staff may not always be aware of the stress on the family.
A restorative
justice/human service approach to families and corrections has as a first principle that families
are harmed by the criminal behaviour of the offending family member, either as a direct or
indirect victim, and that the offender needs to acknowledge the harm and work toward healing
it. Some families are hesitant to discuss this issue with the offender. They may choose not to
acknowledge that their current difficulties are a result of the actions of the offender. They may
instead focus on the effects of incarceration and the correctional process, with correctional staff
being held 'responsible' for the family's distress and it is difficult for some families of offenders
to move beyond this blame-stance.
The family is 'criminalized' if it is viewed only in the context of the offender, the
offence, and the offender's incarceration. The family will do the same amount of 'time' as its
incarcerated family member. The criminalization dilemma can spill over into labeling the
children as ‘the children of the offender' and the family as ‘the offender family'. This stands in
opposition to an approach that views families as an affected group that may be in crisis. The
family has done nothing wrong - they have only chosen to maintain a family relationship. The
criminalization dilemma can only be addressed through staff training aimed at raising staff
awareness of the experience of family members and the role of families as an asset to the
correctional process and to reintegration success.
Part IV. Assessing family need
8. Criminalization dilemma:
9. Continuity Dilemma
The continuity dilemma arises because services to families must begin early in
incarceration and continue into reintegration. It is an unrealistic expectation that the correctional
process alone can address all of the individual or systemic issues that lead to criminal
behaviour. This does not mean that nothing should be done. Programs and services to children
in the visiting area that normalize the parent-child relationship but do not normalize criminal
behaviour or incarceration are needed. As well, reintegration support is needed for mothers and
their children prior to release and continuing into the community, and CSC has made a
commitment to this following the review of services at Grand Valley Institution and at Nova
Institution by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons (Correctional Service of Canada, 2006c).
Some psychologists in District Parole Offices provide family counselling during parole
and reintegration, particularly if unresolved difficulties in the family relationship may lead to
parole suspension. Some institutional and community chaplains provide family counselling or
support programs. Because the responsibility for services to families is a component of the job
description for Chaplaincy Teams, more professional development in basic couple counselling
and relationships in crisis is needed for chaplains. This training may also be useful for Elders,
Aboriginal Liaison Officers and Parole Officers.
The Emotional Cycle of Incarceration
Part IV. Assessing family need
For the family of the offender, prison is a series of losses. The grief cycle begins at
arrest. It continues into reintegration when the offender is reunited with his/her family. Life
can never be 'just like it was before.' The family system has adapted and grown in ways that the
incarcerated member may not understand or accept.
Families tend to experience some predictable ups and downs. The chart, The Emotional
Cycle of Incarceration, shows the socio-emotional experience of the family. Each phase has its
demands and stresses. It is important to remember that, by the time family members have
reached the institution's gates, they may have already experienced significant disruptions in
their life.
The major disruption points for the family are: arrest, trial, sentencing, incarceration and
The Emotional Cycle of Incarceration
Arrest, Trial and Sentencing
1. Grief and loss
One week to one
year or more
2. Emotional disorganization,
detachment and withdrawal
Six weeks to one
year or more
4. Renegotiation of relationships,
recovery and stabilization
5. Anticipated homecoming
Last 6 -12 weeks
of incarceration
6. Renegotiation of relationships
First 6 weeks
7. Recovery and stabilization
6 to 12 weeks
and up to one
The grief and loss stage stretches through arrest, remands, trial and sentencing until the
sentence commences. The stages of grief are not set in stone and a stage may be revisited by
the family. It is the framework that is important.
a. Denial, shock or numbness
b. Anger
c. Bargaining
d. Despair or depression
e. Acceptance
Part IV. Assessing family need
1. Grief and loss.
a. Denial, shock and numbness. For self-protection or preservation, the family members
temporarily restrict or limit what they experience in order to gather the necessary resources that
are needed to cope. At this stage, family members might say or do the following:
I don't feel anything.
This can't be happening to me.
I don't believe it.
She/he couldn't have done that.
It wasn't that bad.
The victim lied.
The police lied.
It was a set up.
It will be a light sentence, only a few months.
b. Anger. Families may feel anger and resentment toward the family member because of the
effects of incarceration on the family. There may also be feelings of loving, caring and wishing
to support the incarcerated person in continuing the family relationship. The family may have a
hard time reconciling this mix of feelings and may have difficulty discussing their feelings of
anger toward the incarcerated family member, and may even feel guilty for being angry with the
Part IV. Assessing family need
At the anger stage of grieving, the family of the offender may express anger, actively or
passively, to the offender (How could you do this to me? How could you do this to me again?).
There may be anger at desertion or broken promises. Anger may also be directed at the justice
and correctional system, victims, Crown Attorney, etc. Anger may be turned inward in the form
of depression.
c. Bargaining. This stage of grief involves the use of strategies aimed at minimizing or
eliminating feelings of grief. Bargaining can be an internal process or directed toward external
agents or persons. For example, the family may renew marriage vows, plan to marry, or vow to
attend church regularly. They may also use of external avenues of bargaining such as the
launching of an appeal of the conviction or sentence, or both. There may be numerous phone
calls to other family members, the courts, members of parliament, and so on.
d. Depression. After all avenues of bargaining have been exhausted, and emotional resources
are depleted, family members may experience depression. Some family members may increase
their alcohol or drug use, may find themselves not sleeping or sleeping excessively. They may
be emotionally fragile. Some family members seek out medical intervention. They may find it
difficult to work. They may exhibit poor or impulsive decision making or find themselves
unable to make a decision.
e. Acceptance.
At the acceptance stage of grieving, the family accepts the offender's
incarceration to serve a federal sentence as inevitable. The family may still have difficulty
accepting the offender's guilt.
2. Emotional disorganization, detachment and withdrawal
Despite the acceptance of the offender's incarceration, family members often experience
a period of emotional disorganization, detachment and withdrawal around the time of the
offender's admission into the federal correctional system.
They may experience all the
emotions that were felt during the arrest, trial and sentencing all over again. They may find
incarcerated family member for minor or even for no apparent reason. There is doubting or
questioning of the continuation of the relationship.
This is part of the coping with the emotional pain. While the judge sentences the
offender to 'do time,' the family makes a choice to 'do time.' According to some estimates,
approximately 25% of all marital relationships terminate prior to or around early incarceration
(Withers, 2003). In some families, disputes arise as some members continue to maintain
contact and support the offender, while others chose not to.
Part IV. Assessing family need
themselves not wanting to talk to or visit their loved one. There may be arguments with the
4. Renegotiation of relationships, recovery and stabilization
The family begins to establish a different interaction pattern with friends and
acquaintances. Family members terminate relationships with some previous friends and find
that their relationships with other friends are terminated.
Life goes on for the family without the involvement of the incarcerated member and
daily events and life stages arrive and pass. Relationship life begins to be filtered through
institutional life and restricted communication. A routine of maintaining contact develops.
The family hopefully begins a process of self-care. They may begin to enjoy life
without feeling a sense of guilt that their family member is not present. The family begins to
restructure itself to cope with the day-to-day decisions of life; develop new interests; change
lifestyle and patterns of interaction with others.
Family members need to build personal resources and to reach out for help. There is a
need for information and referral. The family's financial and emotional bank accounts may be
It may be important for family members to seek out the support of a care
professional who understands the family dynamics of incarceration and to learn to balance their
needs with the needs of the offender.
Conversations between family members and the offender may take on a strong focus on
the future, i.e. what life will be like when he/she gets out. Upcoming events such as transfers to
another institution, parole hearings, or potential release dates take on great significance. There
Part IV. Assessing family need
is little interest in current events because of this. Partnered relationships may feel very intense
and romantic. There may be a growing sentimentality. Small gestures can be experienced as
very intimate. Some offenders become more attentive to their relationship partners than when
they were in the community.
Some family members may grow to accept as 'normal' that which is not normal - prisons
are not normal places to maintain a relationship. Some behaviours, values or attitudes related to
prison life and the inmate code may become acceptable.
5. Anticipated homecoming
Families talk about, plan for, and sometimes fear homecomings.
The family may
experience 'false homecomings' related to negative parole outcomes and the offender's lack of
progress in meeting treatment or program requirements. These events may play emotional
havoc with the family's emotions. The family may experience fears and apprehensions that the
offender may return to criminal behaviour or to an antisocial lifestyle.
If a partnered relationship began during incarceration, the partner in the community may
discover information about their incarcerated partner's crime or the extent of their criminal
behaviour. This includes information that may be received during National Parole Board panel
hearing. Partners may feel deceived and shocked by new information.
6. Re-negotiation of relationships
The family has restructured in order to cope with its loved one's absence. Whether the
relationship existed prior to incarceration or began during incarceration, the family is required
to restructure to accommodate the returning family member. This can be stressful. All family
members have accommodated to the absence of the offender and have taken on new and
different roles and interests that are not familiar to the offender. The parolee may experience
the demands of parenting as overwhelming.
Family members may have difficulty understanding the reporting requirements of
parole. Anxieties are triggered that can make reintegration difficult, particularly during the first
transition from incarceration to reunion and reintegration. There is additional stress if there is a
revocation, a return to substance abuse or if there is renewed criminal activity.
7. Recovery and stabilization
If the family is able to restructure to accommodate the returning member and the
returning member is able to maintain a crime-free lifestyle, the family will develop increased
stability. It may take up to one year to feel like a 'normal' family again (Withers, Holland &
Martin, 2005).
Part IV. Assessing family need
six to twelve weeks following release. The family relationship may not be able to survive the
Family Assessment Tools.
It is a muggy Saturday. A white van navigates the access road and stops near the ID
Building. Eight women, one baby and three small children crouch out the door and run toward
the ID Building.
Inside, family members identify who they are visiting, show identification and sign in
with the correctional officer behind the desk.
They wait.
A few other families arrive, filling the small waiting area, an area that is already
crowded with an X-ray machine, a metal detector and lockers. A surveillance camera watches
from the corner of the room. Cameras will monitor every footstep from the parking lot to the
visiting area and back to the parking lot.
There is not a lot of discussion today. Mothers talk in hushed tones to children. Some of
the women catch each other's eyes in recognition.
Possessions and people are scanned for contraband. Family members file out of the ID
building and down a walkway that leads to gates that will create an opening between the double
fences topped with concertina wire.
They wait. The outer gate opens. They step inside. The gate closes. They wait. The inner
gate opens. The walkway continues. There are four more doors before entering the visiting
Part IV. Assessing family need
The families spread throughout the visiting area. Some have 'their table', conceded to
them by how long they have visited or because of who they visit. A new visitor cautiously
watches where everyone sits. It takes a while to learn the formal and informal rules.
Three of the visitors walk toward an end of the visiting room separated by a wall. They
take seats in front of glass-fronted compartments. They wait.
A small child figure-8's around two tables.
In a slow trickle, their loved ones arrive through the door that separates the inmate
search area from the visiting area. One kiss. One hug. The closest physical contact for those on
closed visits will be hands pressed against glass.
Who is waiting at the gate? Who makes up the family of the offender and the roles they
play in the offender's life are important factors for consideration.
Several tools are used to determine the risk and needs among offenders as well as
information related to family factors. These include the Spousal Assault Risk Assessment
(SARA), the Level of Service Inventory-Revised and the Post-Sentence Community
Assessment. The offender intake assessment also gathers information related to family factors.
There are concerns among some service providers to families that family assessment
tools could be used to 'pathologize' the family, could be used to limit or stop mother-child
contact in the case of federally sentenced women, or that strengths-based assessments would be
used to highlight family deficits.
Genogram and Ecogram
Some tools such as genograms and
ecograms avoid this dilemma. These can be
powerful tools in understanding the family
relationship and its ability to provide support
and accountability and for engaging the
offender and the family in reintegration
relationship of its members with each other.
An ecogram is a visual representation of the inter-relationships between the individual or family
and its social environment or context. Ecograms have previously been used by the Vera
Institute (2006) to map the social supports of offenders and their families. The Canadian
Families and Corrections Network uses ecograms to discuss criminogenic factors during intake
into their Family Group Decision-making for Reintegration (FGDMR) program.
In a genogram, men are ‘squares’ and women are ‘circles.’ The family in the sample
genogram have three children, a son and two daughters. If the genogram represents a same-sex
couple, the partnered relationship would be represented by two squares or two circles. Note that
Part IV. Assessing family need
representation of the family and the inter-
lines join the various individuals who make up the family to identify the kinship relationship,
either as a couple or as a child. In the sample genogram above, the marital partners are joined
by a solid line. Broken lines or lines with hatch marks can identify other types of relationships,
such as a separated, divorced or situational relationship, as in the following diagram:
The quality of the relationship can be visually represented within the genogram with a
different colour of pen or marker or using various styles of lines.
Some common
Part IV. Assessing family need
representations are included in the following diagram:
The next genogram represents an incarcerated father, with incarceration represented by a
box. It also includes representations of the quality of the relationship.
The genogram gives some clues of the family dynamics. The father’s relationship with
his daughter is good, but the relationship between the father and the son is stressed. Visually
representing the information in this way can serve to focus discussion around the parent-child
relationship. For example, the genogram could be enhanced to include an indication of the
mother's response to the father-son relationship.
In some situations it is helpful to include the parents of the partners in the genogram as
well. This may give some clues to broader family dynamics related to many issues, including
substance abuse, previous incarceration in the family, and so on. The genogram above shows a
family in which both the father and mother in the family of creation are incarcerated, but the
would be to identify who is the caregiver of the daughter, and the quality of the incarcerated
parents' relationship with each other and with their daughter during incarceration.
Ecograms are like genograms, only one level up. The ecogram below illustrates the
approach used by the CFCN in family reintegration plans, showing the seven factors that are
important for family and community reintegration: associates, attitude, community functioning,
employment, family/marital factors, personal-emotional issues and substance abuse.
The ecogram can be used with other tools to discuss areas of strength or concern, as well
as to discuss the inter-relationship of the various factors. For example, family/marital ties may
Part IV. Assessing family need
father's father was also incarcerated at some time in his life. The next step in this genogram
limit or restrict the time available for associating with negative companions, or the
family/marital relationship may limit a substance abuse problem that leads to sporadic or
chronic unemployment. A variety of means can be used to represent this on an ecogram, such
as drawing a line that joins the substance abuse factor with the employment factor or
highlighting a critical factor in a different colour.
Part IV. Assessing family need
The following is a summary of the positive side of each factor which can be useful to
guide the inclusion of the factors within the ecogram:
Employment - employment has been stable and has played an important role for
the offender
Marital/family - evidence of positive relationships and considerable support of
parents, relatives or spouse (no evidence of uncaring, hostility, arguments,
fighting or indifference in the marital/family relationships that result in
Associates - evidence of positive personal associations and considerable support
Substance abuse - the extent, nature and pattern of alcohol and/or drug
consumption and its effects on reintegration adjustment
Community functioning - the offender effectively manages his/her situation,
including accommodation, deportment, health, finance, communication, leisure
and support
Personal/emotional - No characteristics or patterns such as self-concept,
cognition, behavioural, sexual behaviour, mental ability and/or mental health has
been interfering with daily functioning in the community
Attitude - Positive attitudes and considerable involvement in pro-social
activities at work, school, within the family, during treatment and during
The use of ecograms positions the offender within a community and family context.
Correctional staff or contractors may be able to focus discussions with the offender by using the
following approaches to genograms and ecograms:
Develop a mental picture of the family using the genogram or ecogram approach;
Sketch the genogram for the offender while the offender describes his/her family.
Guiding questions can garner significant information about the offender and his/her
Have the offender sketch the genogram while giving directions to the offender on
how to visually represent the family;
Have the offender sketch the genogram outside of the interview and return with the
genogram during a subsequent meeting; or
Sketch the genogram after a meeting with the offender as a mnemonic for future
interviews or discussions.
Family Strengths and Needs Assessments
Family Strengths and Needs Assessments (FSNA) generally focus on a variety of
domain areas. Domain areas vary depending on the requirement of the assessment but usually
the developmental stage of the family
home and community characteristics
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family functions (decision-making, problem-solving, lifestyle and health
family capacity to deal with identified concerns
family resources (other supportive family members, community resources,
professional supports, cultural ties, faith-based supports)
FSNA's are generally developed with a specific focus: child protection or child welfare
assessment, substance abuse, family violence, health, etc. The written assessment reduces
assessor subjectivity in ratings and allows for quality control by the assessor's supervisor. It
also provides a written record for monitoring change in strengths and needs levels and for
periodic reviews of the usefulness of referral sources and community contacts. Finally, while
not an intentional goal, FSNAs can be used to identify common need areas within a community
or population group. The assessment is not an end in itself, but a process of identifying
strengths and needs within domain areas.
There is currently no FSNA in the field that is validated to assess the effects of criminal
behaviour, incarceration and reintegration on the family.
The Post-Sentence Community
Assessment (PSCA) focuses on gathering relevant information about the offender. An FSNA
within the correctional context would take a different focus. Domain areas may parallel those
within the correctional plan. The family would be considered within the context of its capacity
and willingness to provide support and accountability in the areas of associates, attitude,
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community functioning, employment, marital and family issues, personal/emotional issues, and
substance abuse. Questions within the FSNA could include:
Who makes up the family?
Who makes decisions in the family?
Is the family interested in supporting the offender? Is the family 'burned out'
as a resource?
Does the family expect the offender to change?
Is the family able to identify areas in which the offender needs to change?
Is the family able to evaluate areas of strength and need within the family?
Does the family acknowledge that substance abuse is problematic for the
Are family members currently abusing a substance?
Is the family fully aware of the offence?
Is the family able to knowledgeably discuss the offender's criminal behaviour?
Is the family's attitude consistent with the seriousness of the offence?
Is criminal behaviour or incarceration 'normalized' within the family?
Have other family members ever been convicted of a crime?
Have any of the children been in conflict with the law?
Is the family able to appropriately communicate with the offender?
Is the family able to handle conflict situation with the offender?
Has the family successfully handled any pressuring by the offender?
Were any minor children exposed to unhealthy situations or illegal activities,
including substance abuse or witnessing family violence?
Was a family member the victim of the offence?
Did the children witness the offence?
Did the children witness the arrest?
Was the child's parent murdered in the offence?
Did the child find the body?
Have the children experienced stigmatization in the community?
Was a child the victim of the offence?
Does the family appear to provide appropriate child discipline (no excessive
discipline or inconsistent parenting)?
Has the family had contact or interventions by a child protection agency, and
Has the family already accessed community resources or supports? Which
Have the community resources or supports been helpful to the family? Which
Has the family learned to be distrustful of professionals or persons in
Does the family fear that interventions will negatively affect the family
Families may appreciate the FSNA, as long as the information is not used to stigmatize
them. The FSNA is intended to be a strengths-based assessment and not to focus on deficits. If
a risk factor within a domain area is identified, then the family is directed to the appropriate
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resources. For example, if substance abuse is a contributing factor to the criminal behaviour of
the offender, then the offender must get their substance abuse problem under control. If a
marital partner continues to abuse a substance, it will be difficult for the offender to control
his/her own substance abuse problem. If the FSNA shows that certain family members do not
have the capacity to provide support and accountability in the substance abuse domain, it is not
just enough to identify the risk.
It is also important to identify potential supports or
interventions for the family in that domain area. If the family member chooses not to take
action to increase its capacity to provide support and accountability, then there can be
increasing directions to the offender about the appropriateness of maintaining the relationship
with this member of the family.
The FSNA is forward-looking in that it points the family in a supportive direction. It
can be a positive tool if it provides an opportunity for information and referral to increase the
family's capacity. It may also point to potential wrap-around services to assist the family in
achieving some stability within the collateral consequences of incarceration. Services include
transportation services to the institution, substance abuse treatment, mental health services,
parenting and childcare services or financial management.
Incarceration may provide an
opportunity to engage the entire family in crime prevention.
The correctional process cannot respond to the family in negative ways during
incarceration and then expect the family to be responsive during reintegration.
Part IV. Assessing family need
A framework for understanding some of the effects of parental incarceration.
There are gender differences in parental incarceration. In paternal incarceration the
children often stay with the mother. With maternal incarceration the children often end up
living with the grandmother or in foster care. Maternal incarceration thus has a greater impact
on the children because of the change in caregiver or placement.
It is also important to note that there will be differences in a family that pre-existed
incarceration from a parental relationship that began during incarceration. In both instances
however, the child may have no choice but to associate with the incarcerated parent if the
outside parent chooses to continue the relationship. In a parental relationship that began during
incarceration, the child will experience all of the effects of incarceration on the family, all of the
difficulties related to being a step-child, and all of the difficulties of integrating a new parent
into the family.
A framework for assessing the effects of parental incarceration has four foci:
Spiral of Stigma and Shame. Criminal behaviour and incarceration are a stigma on the family.
The children may face this stigma from friends and other family members, in the schoolyard
and so on. Stigma appears to be highest in well-functioning families, families who have had
little or no previous contact with the criminal justice system, and in the families of sex
offenders, including sex offenders who previously had social status.
Stigma is closely related to shame for children and families. The spiral refers to
difficulties that commence with experiences of being shamed and stigmatized. Parental
incarceration may commence a spiral of increasing challenges and difficulties.
Socialization, Support and Supervision. This is what could be referred to as the "joint values"
factor: joint values in terms of shared values and joint values meaning the values of the "joint".
Some children may be socialized into particular responses to authority figures, including
teachers, social and child support agencies, and justice and corrections officials. Some children
can also be socialized into seeing antisocial behaviour as normal.
Incarceration may also mean that the remaining parent's role in socialization, support
and supervision increases. At the same time the parent may be experiencing lower personal and
financial resources to offer the child. Parental incarceration and a lack of supervision may allow
child coming into conflict with the law.
Previous Positive Parenting. If the parent was previously a positive and contributing parent,
then the child and family may experience greater economic and socio-emotional difficulties
during incarceration. It does not matter if the incarcerated parent was a custodial or a noncustodial parent, as long as the quality of the parental relationship was positive. The separation
and divorce literature illustrates that an involved parent who lives in another city can positively
contribute to the child and the child will feel loved and supported, while a child can be
devastated by an non-involved parent who lives across the street. While separation due to
Part IV. Assessing family need
a greater peer influence. If peer influences are negative then there is a greater likelihood of the
incarceration adds another layer to the parent-child relationship, it is still possible to foster the
parental relationship during incarceration.
Previous Pattern of Problems. For some children, incarceration may only be one of a series of
family difficulties that the child has experienced (Withers and Folsom, 2007).
difficulties predate incarceration and it is difficult to separate out the effects of parental
incarceration from other issues such as the effects of the criminal lifestyle of one or both
parents, substance abuse by a parent, the witnessing of family or community violence by the
child, and so on. Difficulties may be cumulative and this needs to be taken into account when
assessing the potential effects of parental incarceration.
Parents who are coping with incarceration are concerned for their children just like any
other parent. It is important to get a sense of the parent's pre-incarceration involvement with the
child, including the quality and quantity of the parent-child relationship. Incarceration may spur
the offender to effect positive change in his/her role as a parent. It is important to focus this
motivation for change on what is realistic and responsible.
The effects on children vary even among children in the same family. The individual
child's response to parental incarceration and relevant protective factors will depend on many
Part IV. Assessing family need
factors, including:
the child's age
the child's developmental stage
the child's coping ability or resiliency
the child's prior relationship to the incarcerated parent
if the child witnessed the arrest
whether the child was a victim of the offence
if the child experiences changes in care (new home or school, moving in with a relative,
foster care, economic changes)
the degree to which the offence was publicized in the media
the ability of the caregiver to be available and to provide emotional support to the child
following arrest and incarceration
community resources available to the child and family
if the child is deceived about incarceration
the type of offense or crime committed
length of sentence
It is a difficult decision to tell a child that a family member, particularly a parent, is
incarcerated. Many families chose to keep parental incarceration a secret from their children.
Parental shame or fears that the child may think less of the incarcerated parent or family
member can interfere with appropriate discussions about this.
While it is ultimately a parent's or care giver's decision to inform the children, there are
several issues that must be considered. First, if children are not given an answer or a plausible
explanation, they may make up their own explanation of why the parent is absent. Children
may blame themselves because they may think that they have done something wrong that
caused the incarcerated parent to be absent. Second, children are smart. While they can be
convinced for a short time that the incarcerated parent is in the hospital, working for the
government, on vacation, in school, working the rigs or whatever, the child may become
mistrustful or confused if they notice the discrepancy between what they are told and what they
experience. Additionally, it is better for a child to find out that a family member is in prison
from someone who loves them than in the schoolyard or in the media.
Telling children about the incarceration can be a protective factor for the child. It can also
be an important step in crime prevention and in interrupting intergenerational criminal
behaviour. It may also an important step for the incarcerated parent to understand that their
The children need simple answers to the following questions:
Where is the incarcerated parent?
Why is the incarcerated parent incarcerated?
When is the incarcerated parent coming home?
Is the incarcerated parent OK?
What is the relationship between the incarcerated parent and the child?
What should the child tell others?
If the incarcerated parent had a meaningful relationship with the children prior to
Part IV. Assessing family need
child is harmed by the consequences of criminal activity.
incarceration, the children may want to visit. Some families choose not to visit or do not visit at
the request of the incarcerated family member. This seems to be more the case during short
sentences, during revocations or when the visit is through glass (closed visit) and the parents are
not able to hug their children.
The caregiver and the incarcerated parent may worry about the children entering a
correctional facility. Children may want to visit notwithstanding these worries. Prisons are not
'normal' places for visiting and they may provide a particularly difficult experience for children.
Children need to be appropriately prepared for what they will experience.
Families of Lifers
All families affected by criminal behaviour and incarceration face similar issues. The
families of Lifers, however, face several unique socio-emotional challenges. Family issues are
included within CSC's Lifer's Resource Strategy for this reason.
The families of Lifers are not a homogenous group because Lifers are not all the same.
Some are lifers because they murdered a family member, often a crime of passion in which the
victim was a current or former intimate partner. Mental illness can sometimes lead to an offence
that results in a life sentence. Finally, some lifers were involved in a criminal lifestyle and their
offence happens in the course of another offence or was a gang-related murder related to
enforcements of codes of conduct, control or territorial boundaries.
Statistics Canada (2005) reported that, between 1994 and 2003, there were 4,490 solved
Part IV. Assessing family need
homicides. Of the solved homicides, 38% were family related, of which almost half (47%)
involved the murder of a spousal. When one marital partner kills another, the entire family
knows both the victim and the perpetrator - the shock and horror of the murder affects the entire
family. If there were children in the partnered relationship, the children lose one parent to
murder and the other parent to a life sentence. One person that the children love has taken the
life of another person that they love.
Children may have to cope with the unexpected, horrendous deaths of both parents.
Statistics Canada (2004) reported that, in about 31% of murders by men against a spouse, the
perpetrator also committed suicide. The children may experience the trauma of losing both
parents, of witnessing the murder, of discovering the body of one or both parents or the trauma
of all three.
Early in the sentence, a Lifer may not be ready to understand the impact of the offence
on the entire family, including the children. There is often intrafamilial conflict over whether
other family members should maintain contact, provide support or visit the Lifer. Some family
members may actively dissuade other family members from maintaining contact and may cut
off family ties from any family members who choose to do so.
There are radical changes in living arrangements for the children in the murder of a
parent. Children may live with grandparents or other relatives who are also coping with loss
and the impact of the offence on themselves. For some children, and the grandparents who may
now be their caregiver, the emotional impact can destroy any wish for contact with the
incarcerated parent. The grandparent or caregiver may not wish to foster or support contact
based on decisions related to what is in the best interest of the children. There may be custody
disputes about which set of grandparents will have custody of the children during incarceration.
Often social or financial support services are geared to a parent and not to a grandparent,
thereby creating increased financial hardship on the grandparents. There is limited support to
parents, and even less to grandparents as caregiver.
If the Lifer committed murder as part of a sexual offence against either an adult or child,
the family bears an additional stigma in the community and sometimes from other families who
the arrest, trial and sentencing and upon release or judicial review.
Some families of Lifers experience what could be termed "pain control" on the part of
the Lifer. Some Lifers find that visiting in the institution with the family is stressful because of
the visible, emotional impact of the crime and visiting upon the family. Some Lifers and longterm offenders chose to terminate or limit visits with their family in an attempt to control their
own pain or the pain of their family members. The Lifer may not realize that while his or her
pain may be lessened by decreasing visits, the family's pain continues, now further complicated
by limited contact.
Part IV. Assessing family need
are visiting at the same institution. Community stigma experienced by the family peaks during
Arising from the Task Force Report on Long-Term Offenders, the Correctional Service
of Canada (1998) identified four stages that offenders experience when serving sentences of ten
years or longer:
1. adaptation - coming to grips with the reality of confinement;
2. integration to the prison environment - living within the context of that reality;
3. preparation for release - preparing for release in a progressive manner; and
4. reintegration into the community - assuring a coherent and continuous process
leading to safe reintegration.
These stages have been used as a basis for the development of services and programs in
the LifeLine program, the program of support that is run by convicted, but paroled men and
women serving life sentences who have successfully reintegrated into the community. It can be
identified, at least from practice wisdom, that the experience of families of Lifers and long-term
offenders parallels these four stages as well:
1. adaptation - coming to grips with the effect of the offence on the structure of family
and on intrafamilial relationships and support, and the reality of the long-term
confinement of a family member. This includes an initial period of incarceration
within a maximum security institution;
2. integration - maintaining or developing a relationship within the context of a life
sentence with lifetime parole;
Part IV. Assessing family need
3. preparation for release - preparing for release, anticipation and excitement at the
release with the potential of a reoccurrence of community stigmatization; and
4. reintegration into the community - renegotiation and stabilization of a relationship
that has existed within a structured correctional environment and adapting as a
family to lifelong supervision.
The family of a Lifer - mother, father, children, partner, grandparent, brother, sister or
whoever the family may be, faces many challenges. The effects of the crime never go away for
Lifers, their families or the victim's family. Each one faces a sentence that never ends.
The family of the ageing and elderly offender
It has been recognized that the ageing and elderly offender is an increasing concern.
Uzoaba (1998) identified three groups of ageing, incarcerated individuals: someone who has
aged inside as a result of a long-term or life sentence; someone who has aged inside because of
repeated incarceration; and someone who was already old when sentenced, usually for a first
Family relationships for each of these groups share some similarities. For example,
family contact may be very limited if a family member was a victim of the offence. As with the
families of Lifers, there may be family disagreement and conflict if one family member chooses
to visit while another family member feels too hurt and encourages other family members not to
For the family of someone who is already older when first sentenced, particularly for an
historical sexual offence, the family may experience considerable social stigma in the
community. Family relationships may be stressed to the point that support is lost because of the
type of offence.
For others, family members or a marital partner may also be ageing and unable to travel
for personal health reasons. Travel difficulties increase for ageing family members if the
institution is geographically isolated. Travel costs are a factor if an ageing family member in
time due to the length of the sentence or because of recidivism. Without family or community
contacts some ageing offenders become increasingly concerned and hesitant about reintegration.
Uzoaba (1998) notes that research has found that family contact, level of education and
health have the most positive effect on institutional adjustment and that older offenders who
maintain contact with their family fared better than those who did not.
Where there was no
family contact, Uzoaba (1998) found that the elderly offender became dependent on
institutional care and support while experiencing isolation and decreased life satisfaction. It
may thus be important to assist these ageing and elderly offenders to search out support with the
disengaged family or with other community supports.
Part IV. Assessing family need
the community relies on retirement income sources. For others, family contact decreases over
The Correctional Service of Canada is aware of these developments and has piloted
some experimental units and programs, including training other offenders in geriatric and
palliative care. Institutions offer ongoing assessment for health, safety, palliative care, and
psychological well-being.
Aboriginal families
Assessing Aboriginal families is complicated by several historical events and processes.
These include the effects of the reserve system, described by some Aboriginal Elders and
leaders as Aboriginal people’s first experience of incarceration. Other events that need to be
considered during the assessment are the effects of the residential and mission school system,
adopting out/the sixties scoop, loss of language, urban versus rural settings, cultural values
about parenting children, and the effects of marginalization, poverty and racism. Assessing
family need among Aboriginal families is most appropriately done by an Aboriginal Elder, by
an Aboriginal Liaison Officer or by someone who is specifically trained in understanding the
cultural context of Aboriginal families. Equal concern is required for Métis and Inuit families.
Aboriginal offenders who have been to "The Big House" are often feared more by other
members of the Aboriginal community than those who have served a shorter provincial or
territorial sentence. This sometimes includes directions to 'not hang around' with the returning
offender. At other times, it may include shaming activities such as crossing over to the other
Part IV. Assessing family need
side of the road or street in order to avoid the offender - a form of exile within the community.
Historically, shaming was sometimes a part of the restorative process. Some feel that shaming
does not hold the same power as it once did in restorative processes or practices, because many
Aboriginal people have experienced shaming as part of the residential or mission school
experience. The 'shaming on top of shaming' may thus have a paradoxical effect, serving to
sever attachments rather than to remind the offender of the importance of family and
community ties. The offender may stay at home during the day, and go out only at night. The
offender then starts to get caught up in his/her offence cycle again.
Returning home for Aboriginal offenders and their families is a community event, even
for Aboriginals from an urban setting. This understanding is recognized in Sections 81 and 84
of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act as well as is the importance of the Aboriginal
community in the offender's reintegration. Under Section 81, the Correctional Service of
Canada can transfer an offender to the care and custody of an Aboriginal community, while
under Section 84, an Aboriginal community agrees to participate in release and reintegration
planning for the return of the offender into an Aboriginal community.
There are several leaders in the field of assisting Aboriginal families. One is Russell
Badger (Prince Albert Grand Council) who works with offenders for three months before their
release and for three months after their release and also does a 12 month and 18 month
He works to link the entire family with necessary support for successful
The Native Counselling Services of Alberta, on the other hand, provides services to
families through the Stan Daniels Healing Centre in Edmonton. Services include the Family
Life Improvement Program, a relationship program that assists offenders to examine their
relationship choices, and supports partners who have experienced domestic violence.
Noel and Joan Milliea in New Brunswick assist Aboriginal communities by using 'Exit
Circles' and 'Entry Circles.' These circles are wholistic approaches that address community
issues for information when an offender will be incarcerated and provides for safety needs and
reintegration requirements under Section 84 releases. The approach uses truth-telling as a
means to address family need and community concerns that may be behind the stigmatizing or
entire community and the offender needs to share what happened in the offence, who was
harmed and how the harm was addressed.
The Circle also provides an opportunity for offenders to discuss their readiness to be
back in the community and for the community to discuss their readiness to welcome the
offender back. For the Aboriginal offender and the family, interventions are thus communitydriven with the guidance of the Elders.
Ceremonies mark the transitions of leaving the
community for a period of incarceration and returning to the community upon release. A
continuum of care is thus established.
Anala (2003, p. 49) discusses the incarceration and reintegration needs of Inuit families.
Part IV. Assessing family need
ostracizing of the returning offender. Crime is seen as breaking the offender's bond with the
Among the difficulties are parole conditions placed on Inuit offenders. In small and isolated
communities with one road, store and post office, it is impossible to avoid contact with others.
She comments on the important role of the Inuit Elder and Inuit Liaison Officers in maintaining
contact with incarcerated family members and community healing. She also notes differences
in assessing need:
Because Inuit are highly patient and forgiving, whatever the reason [for the offender's
incarceration] has already been healed, traditional Inuit restitution has already been done
and the System lets it linger on….I am of the belief if the Euro Western world allows us,
the Inuit, to practice our traditional Inuktitut ways of forgiveness, mediation, restoration
and restitution, the Inuit families wouldn't be so adversely affected by incarceration of a
family member.
The family of the offender cannot be responded to in negative ways during the
incarceration phase of the correctional process and then be expected to respond to staff or
contractors in a positive way during the release and reintegration phase. While the family
should not be approached as if they are a secondary parole officer, the family can effectively
provide support and accountability.
Family do, however, look to correctional staff and
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contractors to support them in this role as the original circle of support and accountability.
Aboriginal Liaison Officers and Elders Working with
Families. By Corina Hayward, Aboriginal Corrections
Policy Unit, Public Safety.
Aboriginal Liaison Officers (ALO’s) are especially well placed to offer assistance to the
families of offenders both because of their personal membership in the Aboriginal community
and the community component of their job descriptions. As part of their case management and
pre-release planning functions, ALO’s are required to “maintain contacts with families of
incarcerated Aboriginal individuals as required” and as part of their community outreach duties,
they are asked to “assist and encourage family, friends and community contacts with Aboriginal
Institutional Elders, on the other hand, have often experienced enormous pressures and
expectations placed upon them. While Elders working in their communities may only be
expected to play a specific role, such as conducting ceremonies or working with medicines,
within the institutional setting they have often been expected to perform a wide variety of tasks
with large numbers of offenders. This may mean that one Elder conducts the sweat lodge,
works one-on-one with the offenders, participates in case management and attends parole board
meetings as requested. This has resulted in enormous burn out rates among institutional Elders.
When the expectations and caseloads are too overwhelming for both ALO’s and Elders, it will
usually be the community commitments, such as the connection with the families of offenders,
ALO’s are often requested by both offenders and their families to perform a variety of
tasks. Contact with families can be established by meeting in the community, during Private
Family visits, during family socials or in the visiting room. Contact can also be maintained
through phone and email. These requests are usually around issues of institutional rules and
regulations, case management, making referrals to Aboriginal based resources and services or
just providing support and guidance to those who are overwhelmed by the whole correctional
Aboriginal Liaison Officers and Elders often have a unique position within the
Part IV. Assessing family need
that will suffer first.
correctional system and this can be both positive as well as troublesome. On the one hand,
many offenders and their families may view them as Aboriginal first and a part of the
correctional system second. This can certainly assist in the development of an open and trusting
relationship necessary to work closely and effectively with offenders and their families but can
also place the ALO and/or Elder into difficulty with establishing appropriate boundaries. While
confidentiality is certainly a part of the relationship, offenders and their families must be made
to understand that ALO’s and Elders are bound by the same reporting requirements as all CSC
An interesting aspect of this is that, within Aboriginal communities, incarcerated
members may be held in higher regard than those who choose to work within the correctional
system where they may be seen as “working for the enemy.” There may also be a certain
amount of distrust from the correctional community towards ALO’s and Elders, who also view
them as Aboriginal first and correctional staff second. It has often been expressed by ALO’s
and Elders that, rather than being welcomed and accepted as correctional staff, they are made to
feel that they have to constantly prove themselves and their “loyalties” to the correctional
system. These constant pulls from both correctional staff and offenders and their families have
led some ALO’s and Elders to suggest that it constantly feels as if they are “walking a
Therefore, for ALO’s and Elders working in institutions, it is first necessary for them to
be able to achieve this delicate balance of developing and maintaining trust with both other
correctional staff and offenders and their families in order for them to be effective in their work.
Part IV. Assessing family need
They must also possess well-developed people skills, such as a non-judgmental attitude,
openness and honesty, and an ability to sort out the “wheat from the chaff.” Education or
experience in counseling is important, as well as an awareness of community resources.
It is also important for the correctional system to ensure that ALO’s and Elders are
provided with adequate training and information around institutional rules, regulations and
procedures – especially as they pertain to security. There have been numerous complaints from
ALO’s and/or Elders that they have been literally thrown into the institution setting with no
knowledge or training provided and this had led to them having to learn things the hard way.
This should not be the method of doing things in an environment where security is considered
to be of paramount importance.
Historically, the prevalent way of instilling traditional values and appropriate, respectful
behaviours in Aboriginal communities was role modeling, and ALO’s and Elders are expected
to not just “talk the talk” but also to “walk the walk.” Relationships and trust with Aboriginal
offenders and their families can easily be permanently damaged when those working within the
system are seen as having the attitude of “do as I say, not as I do.” For this reason, it is
especially important for ALO’s and Elders to be seen as walking their own healing journey.
This, however, is not just important for maintaining relationships with offenders and
their families.
Corrections, and the difficulties around working in such an unhealthy
environment, requires enormous amounts of emotional strength and versatility. It is therefore
important for ALO’s and Elders to spend the time and resources necessary for maintaining their
own personal health.
This is often difficult given the great demands placed upon them
physically, spiritually and emotionally but imperative if they are to be effective and positive in
their roles and own lifestyle.
Needs of Aboriginal Families of Offenders
Many of the needs of Aboriginal families are similar to those of non-Aboriginal family
members. They need to understand the process and the system, they need to know that their
loved one is safe, what is, and will be, happening with their family member and what
expectations will be placed on them and the family during their sentence. They will require
support around their contact with the correctional system and they will require support in the
individual, they did nothing wrong.
Aboriginal families may have an extremely difficult time adjusting to the correctional
environment. Part of this may be due to attitudes around the system itself. Prolonged and
negative contact with the justice system through the Indian Act, residential schools, child
welfare system, police, the courts and corrections, have resulted in strongly engrained
resentments and suspicions that are still deeply rooted in Aboriginal communities.
Economic constraints may make it impossible for families to visit or to maintain
telephone contact.
English as a second language may play a role in confusion around
requirements, rules and regulations. It is also important to note that there may be cultural
Part IV. Assessing family need
community. They need to know that, although they are the loved ones of an incarcerated
differences in how Aboriginal people relate to CSC staff and, more importantly, that those
cultural differences will vary from Nation to Nation. CSC staff have often made observations
that an Aboriginal offender, or their family, appeared to be evasive or unwilling to make eye
contact when they were actually exhibiting signs of respect. This can be difficult for ALO’s
and Elders as well since they are, after all, themselves a member of a particular cultural group
and may be unaware of all of the cultural characteristics of another.
For ALO’s working with Aboriginal families, there are no established procedures,
guidelines or forms, but they are often asked for input on reports being prepared by parole
officers or when community assessments are being prepared in anticipation of ETAs or UTAs.
ALO’s often keep their own notes and files concerning contacts and provided services to
families that help them with pre-release and reintegration planning.
One of the most difficult situations that ALO’s and Elders have to deal with is when an
offender wants to make a sincere attempt to make positive changes in his/her life and the family
continues to be involved in a negative lifestyle. Because of the importance of family and
community, the offender may see it as impossible to distance himself/herself from the family
even while realizing that this could be the worst possible environment for them to return to.
Several ALO’s reported that they were often asked to sit down with family members to try and
impress on them the offender’s desire for change and the need for them to get assistance with
their own problems before release. ALO’s and Elders will try to refer to resources in the
community but this is not always possible when the problems are big and the resources are
Part IV. Assessing family need
It is recognized that some Aboriginal communities are extremely unhealthy and where
the family decides to live upon the offender’s release may be extremely important to the success
of his/her reintegration. Even a family and offender with the best of intentions will have a
difficult time when the extended family and community around them is engaged in destructive
behaviours and lifestyles.
ALO’s and Elders may find themselves also working with communities when offences
were committed in the same community that the offender will be returning to.
communities that have initiated healing journeys are resistant to the offender’s return and may
require reassurances that real change has taken place before they are welcoming. This may
require the sharing of information that is sanctioned by both the offender and the community.
Aboriginal Liaison Officers and/or Elders are bound by the same rules around
information sharing and confidentiality as all staff. There can be, however, dilemmas around
this issue in regards to how information is attained. ALO’s, Elders, and offenders and their
families may travel in the same social circles due to their membership in the Aboriginal
community – a complexity in boundaries that may not exist for other correctional staff. ALO’s
and Elders often have to wrestle with issues around personally/professionally gained
information and what can, should, or needs to be shared with offenders, their families, and
Time spent with families will be some of the most rewarding and important work that
ALO’s and Elders can engage in. Traditionally, family was seen as the “circle of life,” children
were seen as “gifts” from the Creator and women held an especially esteemed place due to their
ability to bear children. Many of these values and teachings have been lost or have gone astray
in the cycle of addictions, abuse and incarcerations that has become the reality for many
Aboriginal people today. ALO’s and Elders have expressed that it is vitally important that this
cycle be broken, through their work as well as others, if the next generation is to be offered
Part IV. Assessing family need
better and more positive opportunities.
Families of sex offenders. By Elizabeth Martin, Quebec
Coordinator, CFCN, and the VISA team, Montée St.
Francois Institution.
The family of a sex offender faces significant stigmatization and pressure in the
community or from the extended family. Society at large does not make a distinction between
incest and pedophilia. While both sexual crimes are reprehensible, the factors that contribute to
incest vary from pedophilia, and incestuous fathers do not usually prey on children at large.
Montée St-François Institution in Laval, Québec, is a federal correctional institution that
provides specialized therapy for incestuous fathers. As of January 2007, there are 224 inmates
at the institution. Of these, 65 inmates are incarcerated for incest, with 18 who have completed
the VISA (Violence Interdite sur Autrui, No Violence against Others) therapy and 47 who are
awaiting therapy. The Canadian Families and Corrections Network is currently conducting a
three-year Family Reintegration Pilot Project at this institution.
Twelve families are
participating in the CFCN project, seven of whom have a family member who has committed
The families of these sex offenders face significant stigmatization in the community.
Children are jeered at school with comments such as, "Your father is disgusting. He is a
pedophile." As an example, a sister of a victim stopped using her father’s name after she was
Part IV. Assessing family need
taunted at school. Several mothers have spoken to the school principal, psychologists and
teachers and the situation improved for their children.
To date, two families in the CFCN project experienced a break-up, one citing the
stigmatization of the community and extended family as a main contributing factor in her
decision to end the relationship. Partners feel torn between their relationship with the victim or
the abuser. They face opposition from the extended family who question how they can still love
and be committed to the abuser of their children. They are accused of not noticing when the
father, stepfather or uncle acted in inappropriate ways. Silence always accompanies incest.
There is further complexity for the family member who is a victim of incest. The victim may
feel torn between feelings of love for her father or stepfather and feelings hate and confusion for
the way in which she was violated. The victim's trauma varies depending upon her age and
The VISA team uses a restorative justice approach that can include the abuser writing a
letter to his victim, when legally possible. In the case of father-daughter or step-father-daughter
violations and when indicated, the parole officer and/or VISA team set up an initial meeting
between the abuser and the victim in the presence of a therapist. The partners are also invited to
a session during the VISA program.
Family members often have the involvement of the Youth Protection services.
Experiences vary but several families have had positive results from the counselling.
Risk factors such as lack of parental control, family environment and values contribute
to the potential of a victim continuing a cycle of sexual promiscuity. Incarceration can break
the cycle of incest in a family and other victims in the family may find the courage to speak out.
Within VISA and CFCN’s Family Group Decision Making for Reintegration project, the
issue of accountability is addressed. For example, is the spouse willing to hold the abuser
accountable for his actions and to speak openly with him? Is the abuser willing to be open and
not put himself in situations of risk? What boundaries/strategies will the family set-up? Already
in his release plan certain restrictions apply. There is a need for family members to fully
understand that the responsibility lies with the adult. Family members may place some blame
on the victims' behaviour as enticing. They need to hear that the adult was and is responsible to
respond appropriately to a child's or a teenager’s affections.
responsibility and communicates this to several family members and friends, the family in turn
may begin to act as «champions» for him.
The community is more accepting in those
circumstances in which the offender takes responsibility for his actions and engages in
Part IV. Assessing family need
Parole officers at MSF report that when the abuser owns up to his crime, takes
Mother-Child Program. By Susan Gilger.
In 1989, CSC, in collaboration with the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry
Societies, established a Task Force on Federally Sentenced Women (1990). Creating Choices,
the Task Force’s report, set out a progressive model for the imprisonment of women. The
report was accepted by CSC and in 1995, spurred on by the incidents at P4W and the ensuing
Arbour Commission Report (Solicitor General Canada, 1996), smaller regional facilities for
federally sentenced women (FSW) were set up.
The five guiding principles that provided the framework for the Creating Choices report
are as follows: empowerment, meaningful and responsible choices, respect and dignity, a
supportive environment and shared responsibility.
The report identified the separation of
mothers from their children during incarceration as a major concern.
As a result, a recommendation was put forward for the development of a Mother-Child
Program within the new regional facilities. The recommendations included a range of options,
including full-time and part-time residency, as well as regular and enhanced visiting. The
program would allow FSW to have their children reside with them during the time of their
incarceration in a federal correctional facility.
Its ultimate goal was the fostering of positive
relationships between mothers and their children.
A feasibility assessment was undertaken and completed by CSC, and in July of 1996
Part IV. Assessing family need
the Mother-Child Program began as a pilot project at the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge
(OOHL), with full implementation at OOHL in 1997. Other regional institutions began gradual
implementation in September 1997 for women who gave birth while incarcerated.
The program has been subject to internal reviews that have examined many facets of its
implementation since its inception. Reviews have included whether the best interests of the
child were met, the extent to which operational practices were in place to implement the
program, the development of a costing model, and how well the program “fosters and promotes
stability and continuity for Mother-Child relations” (Correctional Service of Canada, 2002, p.
1). External reviews have including those of the Canadian Human Rights Commission (2003)
and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons (Correctional Service of Canada, 2006c).
The Mother-Child Program (M-C P) engendered broad support among both staff and
offenders and has made a real difference in the lives of some women (Correctional Service of
Canada, 2002). As a pre-requisite for participation in the M–C P, women take part in a
parenting skills course. The course was adapted by staff to the specific cultural needs of the
women in each regional institution. The focus centers on the foundations of good parenting and
reflects the importance of providing a solid basis of respect, communication, trust, love,
guidance, and direction for each child, together with the provision of concrete, practical
information regarding financial planning, nutrition and the day-to-day physical care of the child.
Offenders indicated that the program provided them with the opportunity to make more
responsible choices with respect to their children.
With staff encouragement, mothers are able to make decisions about the provision of
childcare while they are working or participating in programs, designating who should play
with and hold their children, and what activities the children should engage in. Staff involved
in the program endorsed the value of empowering the women to make decisions in regard to
their children. Most staff felt that the program helped to both stabilize the mothers during their
incarceration and reduce their stress levels. In turn, the reduction in stress allowed the mothers
to address contributing factors to their offending.
Both staff and offenders believed that the
presence of children in the institution had a positive effect on institutional dynamics.
Candidates are assessed for participation in the M-C P. The assessment process is found
From Commissioner's Directive 768. Institutional Mother-Child Program
Assessment Report for Participation in the Mother-Child Program
Inmate's name, FPS, date of birth
Part 1: Case Status
A. Introduction including:
Offence, sentence length, criminal history
Past parole experience
Part IV. Assessing family need
in Commissioner's Directive 768.
Institutional adjustment history
B. Eligibility dates
C. Security level
Part 2: Evaluation Elements Specific to the Mother-Child Program
A. Current crime
B. Institutional adjustment (current)
C. Correctional programs and reintegration
D. Preventive security information
E. A review of the occupants of the house be done to ensure the child is not at risk from the
other inmates
F. Position and assessment of the child welfare authorities (or the child care specialist or child
psychologist). The child welfare authorities should address issues including but not limited to:
the degree of disruption to the child should she/he be removed from her/his present
the mother's ability to parent (if she is a new mother, the assessment should take this into
her relationship with this child and her other children, if applicable;
the child's behavioural, medical, and mental health history (following receipt of the consent
of the legal guardian or parent);
where feasible, the wishes of the child.
Part IV. Assessing family need
G. Mother's link to the child including:
Age of child
Verification of custody status
Community assessment by CSC (if required)
H. Past crimes against children (attach psychiatric report as required)
I. Community support and history with her children
J. Physical and psychological evaluation including:
Collaboration during pregnancy, as appropriate (nutrition, self-care, health of fetus)
Psychological evaluation (and/or summary of most recent psychological evaluation and how
it pertains to program participation)
K. Parenting skills including:
Evaluation of parenting abilities, for example using the scales developed by Magura, Moses
and Jones (1981), Foucault (1992) and Steinhauer (1997)
Review of past parental responsibilities
Part 3: Eligibility of the Babysitters
Status of participation/completion of Parenting Skills Program and first aid course
Part 4: Case Discussion
List of major elements considered in the decision-making
Part 5: Actions
Present case to the Institutional Head through the Program Board
Information sharing with the inmate
Part 6: Members of the Case Management Team
Part 7: Signatures
Mother-Child Program Coordinator
Primary Worker
Parole Officer
Team Leader
ÎInclude signed copies of the Parenting Agreement, Annexes and other required forms
(application, alternate caregiver) on the inmate's file.
Statistics gathered from regional facilities about women who participated in the M-C P
from 1996 - 2001, show that, of the 39 full-time participants, 62% still reside with or have daily
contact with their children, 18% do not and 20% cannot be determined, as many of the women
Both internal and external reviews of the program are positive in regard to its overall
benefits to mothers and their children. The program embodies the five principles laid out in the
Creating Choices report. Under-use of the program within the institutions and the lack of
places for women to live with their children as they reintegrate into the community appear to be
the areas that need further attention.
Part IV. Assessing family need
had passed their warrant expiry date (Correctional Service of Canada, 2002, p. 31).
Part V. Elements of correctional practice
with families
By Bonnie Misener and Don Misener.
In Waiting at the Gate: Families, corrections and restorative justice, Withers (2001, p.
the family is a hidden victim, harmed by the criminal activity of the family
member, and in some cases, the victim of the offence.
the family of the offender is in crisis and requires support.
the children of incarcerated parents may be at risk of future criminal
the family of the offender is an asset during incarceration and reintegration.
the family maintains ties in a correctional atmosphere that challenges the
survival of the family relationship.
family support increases parole success and reduces recidivism.
stronger family ties are an effective form of crime prevention and lead to safer
All of these family factors are related to harm reduction, successful reintegration and
crime prevention.
Withers (2001, p.11) recommends, because of the crime prevention
implications, that there be “provision of opportunities to strengthen family ties and the
introduction of policies and practices that mitigate the effect of incarceration on the family.”
CSC recognizes that the establishment and maintenance of positive community and
family relationships will assist offenders in their reintegration as law-abiding citizens. This is
stated in CSC policies of:
- reasonable contact
- case management: assessment of family value to the offender; family environmental
- progress monitoring: including assessing the level of support from family, friends, and
- release planning and beyond
Part V. Elements of correctional practice with families
5) identifies several important family factors that need to be considered within corrections:
Given the importance of the family in the reintegration process, specific skills are
required by correctional staff and contractors with specific skills in order to effectively deal
with deal with families of offenders.
Ethics of service delivery to families
In The Psychology of Criminal Conduct, Andrews and Bonta (1998, p. 249) identify a
shift in correctional research from a “nothing works” position to the "recognition of the value of
human service in a justice context."
They conclude that a restorative justice orientation
provides a more promising perspective for human service than that of retributive justice. The
behavioural/social learning/cognitive-behavioural approach that they advocate is based on two
principles – The Relationship Principle that is expressed through “open, warm and enthusiastic
communication” and “mutual respect” and The Contingency Principle that is grounded by staff
Part V. Elements of correctional practice with families
“modeling” what they want to elicit from the offender (Andrews and Bonta, 1998, p. 273).
Professional relationships are grounded in an ethic of the respect for the dignity of the
person, responsible caring, maintaining appropriate boundaries, maintaining expertise and any
required professional credentials, and with a responsibility to society and to its safety (Canadian
Psychological Association, 2000). Families of offenders require responsible caring in the midst
of the multiple difficulties that they face. This ethic will be reflected in a positive, respectful
attitude toward families and the use of appropriate communication skills in interactions with
them, an ethic that is reflected within the motto of Correctional Service of Canada – “Safety,
Dignity, Respect. For all.”
The motto expresses the overall human values that are vital for the effective delivery of
services to offenders and to their families as do other guiding documents within CSC. Core
Value 3 of the Mission of the CSC asserts that human relationships are the cornerstone of the
achievement of the CSC mission: “that our strength and our major resource in achieving our
objectives is our staff and that human relationships are the cornerstone of our endeavour.”
The Professional Values arising from Core Value 3 include “always being aware of our
many clients, what they need from us and how our outputs and results correspond to those
needs.” Among the People Values arising from the Core Value are “relationships of trust,
respect for the dignity and worth of others” and “characteristics such as respect, reasonableness,
civility, openness, fairness and inclusiveness.”
The Ethical Values arising from the Core Values are:
These involve continually striving to earn public trust by abiding by our legal
mandate and putting the common good ahead of personal advantage. Abiding by
such values involves such characteristics as integrity, honesty, impartiality,
fairness, objectivity, the courage to speak truth to power, selflessness, the
willingness to take responsibility and to be accountable, probity, respect for the law
and careful management of public resources.
In addition to the Core Values arising from the Mission, the Values and Ethics Code for
the Public Service (Treasury Board Secretariat, 2003) guide correctional staff in their role of
serving Canadian citizens.
Various professional disciplines that work within CSC have
additional codes of professional conduct and these also identify important components that may
For example, the Code of Professional Conduct for CSC Chaplains (Correctional
Service of Canada, 1993) requires that chaplains uphold the dignity and worth of others and to
be “generous and open-hearted: without prejudice of any kind – race, culture, language, gender,
sexual orientation or religion.”
The four ethical principles of the Canadian Psychological Association (2000) may also
add benchmarks in an ethic of service delivery to families. Respect for the dignity of person is,
in practice, the restorative justice principle of "What is fair." It includes basic respect for the
person that makes harassment and degradation off limits, respects privacy in that only
information than is needed to provide services are gathered, ensures confidentiality through
informed consent for the sharing of personal information with others and that informed consent
is not coerced. Responsible caring maintains appropriate professional boundaries, up-to-date
professional knowledge and healthy self-care. Integrity of relationships maintains objectivity
in relationships, avoids conflicts of interest, maintains competency in the area of practice and
the accurate presentation of personal credentials and expertise. Finally, responsibility to society
recognizes the needs and values of families, honors cultural factors in service-delivery and
values the well-being of the family network..
Part V. Elements of correctional practice with families
inform a wider ethics of service delivery to families of offenders.
Communications skills and core correctional practices
Andrews and Bonta (2006, p. 354) identify several core correctional practices. While
their focus is on staff interactions with offenders, the same correctional practices hold true for
staff responses to families:
Workers who are successful with their clients; (a) establish high-quality
relationships with them, (b) demonstrate anti-criminal expressions (modeling), (c)
approve of the client's anti-criminal expresssions (reinforcement), and (d)
disapprove of the client's procriminal expressions (punishment), while at the same
time demonstrating alternatives.
While communication skills are essential for quality professional relationships with
families of offenders, it is the integration and application of communication skills within core
Part V. Elements of correctional practice with families
correctional practices that is key. When these skills are combined with an attitude of respect,
correctional objectives are met. Core correctional practices are:
1. Communication skills as the basis for quality professional relationships
2. Modeling appropriate behaviour and attitude
3. Appropriate use of authority
4. Effective reinforcement
5. Effective disapproval
6. Problem-solving ability
7. Information and referral skills
1. Communication skills as the basis for quality professional relationships
There are specific core communication skills necessary in professional relationships.
These skills are:
Active Listening
Attending Behaviour
Clarification of: Feelings (perception check) and of Meaning (paraphrasing)
Facilitative Questions
Exploring Options
a. Active Listening
Effective listening consists of the weaving together of a number of factors that include
the attitude and responses of the listener to the speaker. This is most often identified as “active
listening”. The term “active” implies that the listener is being attentive to what is being said
(verbal statements and cues) and to what is not said (non-verbal cues).
Active listening
includes listening to the actual words that are spoken as well as to the way in which they are
spoken and the body language of the other person who is speaking.
Active listening is one of the most effective skills that a person can cultivate to create
discipline. It requires the listener to treat the other person with respect and to identify any
emotional reactions, assumptions or opinions that can bias communications, including positive
or negative feelings about who that person is, how they look, about what they are talking about
and about how they are saying it.
Active listening skills encourage the growth of collaborative relationships within which
many issues can be addressed. When people feel listened to/heard, they feel understood and
valued. Active listening will generally encourage responses from family members such that
requests can be understood and their needs and concerns can be appropriately addressed or
One way to describe effective listening is to identify what it is not. Egan (1983)
describes some ineffective listening habits as follows: distracted listening (inserting our own
associations and emotional reactions into what the other person is saying); judgemental
listening (evaluating everything the other person says as either right or wrong); biased listening
(filtering what is said through personal biases about people and situations), and sympathetic
listening (when a listener's emotional pain becomes wrapped up in someone else's pain)
Part V. Elements of correctional practice with families
and maintain appropriate relationships and boundaries. It is a skill that requires practice and
Professional objectivity is lost in ineffective listening.
Active listening does not mean agreement with what is being said. It creates the
conditions whereby the listener can gain understanding of the other person’s point of view and
communicate respectfully with them. It enables the other person to receive feedback on what
they are saying and how they are portraying themselves.
b. Attending Behaviour:
Attending behaviour has to do with the way we orient ourselves to the other person.
Attending behaviour conveys, in non-verbal ways, how much the listener wants to understand
what is being said. Attending behaviour can encourage or discourage communication. This
skill includes:
how physical surroundings or furniture arrangement is used. For example, sitting behind a
desk can give a message of authority and control and that communication in that setting will
Part V. Elements of correctional practice with families
likely reflect that authority and control.
the use of body language. For example, an attentive posture sends a message that the
listener is interested in what is being said rather than being distracted or annoyed.
being aware of the physical distance between yourself and the speaker, i.e. being respectful
of other's personal space. Being too close may appear as threatening, whereas being too
distant may communicate discomfort, disinterest, or anxiety. If the other person moves
away, they may be informing you that they are uncomfortable and need more distance.
the use of eye contact. Continual eye contact or staring, however, can signal disrespect or
hostility in some cultures.
the use of vocal tone and volume. A moderate tone of voice will send a message of interest
and appropriate engagement in the discussion whereas a loud, voice may be intimidating
voice and soft tone that may make a person strain to hear.
the rate of speech. A rapid rate of speaking can give the impression of being in a hurry
whereas a very slow rate of speech can give the impression of being tired or bored.
silence. Silence can allow both the listener and the speaker time to think about what has
been said and about what they want to say next. However when silence appears to indicate
non-responsiveness, the message will be that the listener is not interested.
c. Empathy:
Empathy is foundational to the development of a collaborative relationship. Empathy is
communicated both by skill and by attitude. Empathy has to do with expressing respect and
positive regard and is mostly non-verbal. As a skill, it is the ability to comprehend the
experiences, behaviours and feelings of another person and to effectively verbalize this
comprehension to the other person.
In its most basic form empathy includes the naming of the feeling being expressed by
the person and the behaviour or experience that is giving rise to the feeling. In its simplest
sentence structure it is:
because…….…………………………..(the behaviour or experience.)
This is a statement, not a question. It is not agreeing or disagreeing. It is simply an
Staff member: Please lock your purse in the locker.
Family member: Why? I don’t get this. I never leave my purse anywhere.
Staff member: I can understand that you might be upset about this. However it is a
requirement at this institution.
Empathy entails having the capacity to identify feelings (our own and the others) and to
state them clearly and directly.
d. Clarification Skills:
When two or more persons are talking there is always the potential for
misunderstanding and misinterpretation. Much of what is communicated can be nonverbal.
The tone of voice and body language sometimes confirms what is being said in words and
Part V. Elements of correctional practice with families
“You feel …………………………(a feeling word)
sometimes it contradicts the words. When we wish to convey a message to another person, we
alone know what our motivations and intentions are.
Our unique history, personality,
interpersonal experiences, emotional and physical well-being all contribute to both the words
we say and the nonverbal messages that accompany what we say. It is the verbal part, the
actual words, that is public and open for interpretation by the other person. But they too have a
unique history, personality, interpersonal experiences, emotional and physical experience
through which they filter what they hear. Thus, the potential is great for misunderstanding and
misinterpreting a message that is communicated in words.
It is therefore important not to assume to understand another person’s feelings,
experiences or the meaning without asking for clarification. Clarification involves perception
checks and paraphrasing.
i. Perception Check.
Perception check is the skill used to check-out or to clarify our
understanding of the feelings of the person who is giving the message. It is done by stating in a
non-judgmental voice the feeling that is being expressed in the verbal and nonverbal
Part V. Elements of correctional practice with families
communication and checking this understanding out.
Family member: Another piece of paper! I have to read and sign another piece of
Staff member: You're feeling annoyed because of the demands being made on you.
Is that right?
ii. Paraphrasing. Paraphrasing is the skill used to check out or to clarify the meaning of the
words being expressed. Again, it is expressed in a non-judgmental voice.
Family Member: Did you see what was happening at the table by the coffee
Staff: Do you mean that I should keep a close eye on it?
e. Facilitative Questions:
There are basically two types of questions, closed questions and open-ended questions.
Closed questions are the kind used when factual information is needed such as name, address
and phone number or when a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response is all that is required.
Closed Question: How are you feeling today?
Response: Fine.
Open-ended questions are the ones that ask the family member to continue speaking.
This allows them to expand on what they have said. Open-ended questions usually begin with
‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’ or ‘who’.
Open-ended Question: What has been the toughest part for you since your partner
was incarcerated?
Response: Well, I have had to deal with how I’m going to survive financially and take
care of the kids on my own. I don't think anyone understands how hard it is for me.
f. Exploring Options:
Core communication skills create the interpersonal conditions where families can fully
explore their options. The use of active listening, attending behaviour, empathy, clarification
skills and facilitative questions enables the family member to arrive at a better understanding of
their situation, gain awareness that they are not alone and gain clarity about what is of concern
to them.
Core communication skills allow the staff member or contractor to interact with the
family in order to provide information and referral. If family counselling is involved, these
skills are necessary for effective service delivery. They allow for an exploring of options that
the family has available to them.
Part V. Elements of correctional practice with families
Staff member: You've described some of the difficulties that you’ve had since your
partner was incarcerated. You decided to move away from family and friends in order
to be closer but that has caused other problems for you. You feel totally responsible
the children and maintaining your relationship. Have I understood you correctly?
Family member: Yes, that’s pretty much how I feel.
Staff member: What might be of help to you? What options do you see?
Family member: I'm not sure if there is anything I can do about it. I'm not sure who
can help me.
Staff member: I have an information book with a list of community organizations.
Would that be helpful?
2. Modeling appropriate behaviour and attitude
Part V. Elements of correctional practice with families
It is the responsibility of staff to model the behaviour that is expected. Communication
skills that lack congruence with attitude and behaviour can be construed as manipulative.
Modeling communicates authenticity and genuineness. Being genuine means the staff member
or contractor does not need to overemphasize their role, can be spontaneous, assertive, nondefensive and consistent (Egan, 1986). This encourages the development of trust and rapport
and the basis for the effective use of authority, effective reinforcement and effective
Staff member: I think this is your first visit here. Am I right?
Visitor: Yes. I’ve never been to a prison before. I’ve come to visit my partner and I
don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I was sent a paper on visiting but I lost it.
Staff member: You're afraid you’re going to do something wrong?
Visitor: Everything is so scary. I haven’t seen my partner for 6 weeks now and I
don’t want him (her) to think I’m not coming. But I don’t know if I can do this.
Staff member: You're right, a prison can be a scary place. But to help families on
their first visit there is some written material that explains the process. But for now,
what do you need to help you through this first visit?
Visitor: I just need someone to talk me through what I'm supposed to do.
Staff member: Here's what I'll do. Please take a seat and read through this
information sheet. Place any items that are listed on the sheet in one of the lockers
and take the key with you. I'll get all of the other visitors signed in and ready to go
into their visit. Then I'll have you come back and I'll answer any questions that you
have and explain to you where to go and what to expect. Is that OK?
Visitor: Okay, that will be helpful.
3. Appropriate use of authority
The physical structure or layout of a correctional facility can be intimidating.
It can
exaggerate the power imbalance between staff and families. It is important that staff be
sensitive to this when they asserting their authority during security procedures or processes.
How staff assert their power is key, and a frank, firm, fair and factual approach goes a long way
Staff member: Mrs. Smith, we’ve had complaints from other visitors that your
children are noisy and interrupting the privacy of other visits.
Mrs. Smith: I can’t help that, they’re just being kids. There’s nothing for them to do
here and I want them to see their father.
Staff member: I understand but it is clearly noted at the entrance that your children
and their behaviour are your responsibility. To be fair to everyone else trying to visit,
you need to keep them under control.
Mrs. Smith: Well, we won’t be here much longer. People will understand.
Staff member: Mrs. Smith, we have an area with toys and games for the children.
During Saturday morning visits there is a trained volunteer who comes in and helps
with activities for kids. However, you will need to do something now or we will need
to terminate your visit.
Mrs. Smith: Okay, I’ll take them to the children’s area until they calm down.
Staff member: Thank you.
Part V. Elements of correctional practice with families
in communicating authority effectively.
4. Effective Reinforcement
When a family member has attempted a new and/or desirable way of behaving/
thinking/ verbalizing it is important to reinforce this. Andrews and Bonta (2006, p. 355)
identify several reinforcers with offenders that may be also helpful with families:
1. Strong, emphatic and immediate statements of approval, support and agreement
with regard to what is said and done (nonverbal expression, eye contact, smiles);
2. Elaboration of the reason why agreement and approval are being offered (i.e.,
exactly what it is you agree with or approve of);
3. Expression of support that is sufficiently intense to distinguish it from the
background levels of support, concern and interest that you might normally offer;
Part V. Elements of correctional practice with families
Family member: Thanks for seeing me. I’m feeling a little shaky and I need to talk
to someone.
Chaplain: Tell me what happened.
Family member: I was visiting my husband as usual today and as usual he was
telling me how to run my life. I told him to stop.
Chaplain: You told him to stop trying to run your life?
Family member: Yes. I didn’t yell or argue, I just told him how unfair he is when he
talks to me like that. I told him it makes me feel like a failure and that is not right.
Chaplain: Do you think that this was a big step for you? It sounds to me like you
were standing up for yourself in a way that you haven't before.
Family member: It was a big step. I was scared and my voice was shaking but I said
it and I’m glad.
Chaplain: It sounds like you're trying to set some healthy boundaries for yourself.
What is the next step that you think you might take?
5. Effective Disapproval
Modeling and reinforcement and effective disapproval of behaviour are more likely to
be effective when expressed within collaborative relationships. When a level of trust, openness,
and understanding is established, family members are more likely to respond to disapproval
constructively. If there is no rapport then disapproval will more likely be experienced as
judgement, humiliation and rejection.
Effective disapproval also takes place within a context of effective use of authority.
When expressing disapproval to family members it is important to identify the reason why you
disagree or disapprove and what more appropriate alternatives are.
An institutional Parole Officer answers the telephone, a distraught mother informs
her that she has smuggled contraband to her son in the institution the previous day
because her son told her that if she didn’t, he would be killed. The mother is
feeling guilty and confused.
PO: You did the right thing by telling me about what happened. What you did
yesterday not only violates the rules but it places everyone's safety at risk, including
your son's.
PO: I need you to stay on the line. I'm going to have you talk to the Security
Intelligence Officer so that you can give a statement about what happened and what
you brought into the institution.
Mother: I'm so sorry but I didn’t know what to do.
PO: Well, you did the wrong thing in smuggling in drugs but you did the right thing
by telling me.
Mother: So what am I supposed to do now?
PO: I want you to stay on the line, and I'm going to try to get the Security
Intelligence Officer on the line with us. If I cannot get the SIO, I will come back on
the line.
Mother: What's going to happen to now?
PO: You may not be allowed to visit your son for right now until this is sorted out.
But taking the action that you did in phoning us will certainly be in your favour.
What you did was wrong and there will be consequences. Do you understand?
Part V. Elements of correctional practice with families
Mother: I know and I’m so sorry but my son said he would be killed. What was I
supposed to do?
6. Problem- solving ability
The Correctional Service of Canada has adapted the CAPRA model, developed by the
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (2007), to meet the unique needs of the federal correctional
environment. CAPRA is a problem-solving approach that leads to effective responses to
operational issues. Each letter in 'CAPRA' identifies a stage in the problem-solving process:
Who is the one with the problem ( the Direct Client)?
Is it mine, yours, the other guy’s, my boss’?
How well do I know this person?
What is the nature of my relationship with this person?
Who is the Indirect Client? (who else is affected by the outcome of
the problem solving)
Part V. Elements of correctional practice with families
What is the problem?
Get as clear a description of the problem as possible.
What are some of the negative and/or positive factors involved in the
What additional information do you need in order to clarify the
What sections of Law, policy or the Mission apply to this problem?
Are there others that can help with this problem?
Identify agencies, individuals with expertise in the
identified problematic area. These ‘partners’ can be internal to the
CSC or external.
Identify others with a vested interest in the problem
How can these partners help/assist with the problem
Determine the primary response focus. The primary focus may be one that
has to do with Manageing Risks, Prevention, Protection and Public Safety,
and Assisting and Encourageing. While these areas focus mainly on
offender issues, they are also relevant when working with families.
Together with all those involved, brainstorm solutions or responses to the
Determine collaboratively which solution is workable – what are the
benefits of choosing that particular solution, what are the consequences
Determine responsibility for acting on the solution/response
Decide on measures to define effectiveness of the solution
Evaluate the outcome of the actions taken. What worked and what did not
work. What have you learned as a result of dealing with this problem
solving issue?
An Aboriginal mother and father arrive at the institution with a picnic basket
filled with traditional foods to give to their incarcerated son.
Staff member: I'm sorry but you can’t bring that into the institution. You’ll have to
leave it in the locker.
Mother: This is for our son. He is used to eating traditional food. It is not right that
you should keep it from him.
Staff member: I am sorry but you are not allowed to bring food from outside the
institution to visits.
Father: My son tells me there is an Elder who works here. Can I talk with him?
Staff member: The Elder only comes once a week and he is not here today. We do
have an Aboriginal Liaison Officer who might be of help. I believe she is in the
institution today. If you wish I will call her office and see if she can speak with you.
Part V. Elements of correctional practice with families
Father: Please. I’d like to see what she can do.
Staff member: I've been able to contact our Native Liaison Officer and she will be
here to speak with you in 30 minutes. Please leave the food in the locker and go into
the institution for the visit.
The Aboriginal Liaison Officer arrives and joins the father, mother and son while
they are visiting in the Visits Area.
Aboriginal Liaison Officer: I'm sorry but you cannot bring in the food today.
Son: She’s right. They don’t allow families to bring in food from outside.
Aboriginal Liaison Officer: The only time when we can bring traditional foods into
the prison is for feasts. We are planning a feast for next month. If you could arrange
to come I can give you the directions you need to follow so you and the food can be
cleared by security.
Part V. Elements of correctional practice with families
Father: I don’t want everybody touching the food!
Aboriginal Liaison Officer: There is a procedure that we follow and I will be there to
make sure the food is properly examined. If you follow the directions I will give you
that will make it a lot easier to get the security clearance to bring the food in. Coming
to the feast will also give you a better chance to visit with your son as well as share
with him something from home.
Father: Then that is what we will do. We can’t do much to help our son and to bring
give him some food from home is important for us.
Direct: Mother and Father
Indirect: Offender (son), other staff and offenders
Problem - Aboriginal parents wish to bring traditional foods to son.
Aboriginal Elder
Aboriginal Liaison Officer
Aboriginal Liaison Officer will make arrangements with parents for
food for the feast, using approved procedures and suppliers. This is
consistent with Core Vale 1 as it meets cultural needs while
remaining within boundaries of what is allowed to be brought into
Assessment: What worked - Staff were respectful to parents yet firm about
keeping boundaries and procedures. The Aboriginal Liaison Officer
was involved and explained procedures to parents.
Dignity of all involved was maintained.
Information provision and referral skills
Information provision and referral skills are the ability to seek out or refer the family to
the best source for information and services. It is important to be aware of services available to
families, such as institutional programs and supports and community organizations that assist
through transportation services, hospitality houses, and interim support etc., and to
communicate this information to families when appropriate. In some cases, this can be done
simply by having up-to-date handbooks and pamphlets available for families. At other times,
the family member may need to be referred.
Sister: I’m really fed up with her denial of her alcohol problems.
Primary Worker: You sound angry with your sister for not being honest.
Sister: I asked her if she was still going to the AA group and she laughed it off. She
nearly killed her boyfriend. She goes crazy when she drinks.
Primary Worker: You're worried about what will happen if she continues to drink.
Sister: She’s really good at lying. She is very convincing and I’m afraid she is doing
it with the staff here.
Primary Worker: This is the kind of thing that would be helpful for her parole
officer to know. The parole officer recommends involvement in treatment programs.
Sister: I don't want to get my sister in trouble, but she needs help.
Primary Worker: I’ll find out who your sister’s parole officer is. Would you like to
phone the parole officer personally.
Sister: Sure. Give me the name and number, so I can think about it.
Primary Worker: It's a good way for you to help out your sister. Better that she gets
the help that she needs now.
Part V. Elements of correctional practice with families
Other approaches: Families and Motivational Interviewing
Many correctional staff and contractors have already been exposed to motivational
interviewing (MI). MI is defined by Miller and Rollnick (2002, p. 25) as “a client centered,
directive method for enhancing intrinsic motivation to change by exploring and resolving
ambivalence.” Individuals generally want to change behaviours but go through stages of "I do,
but I don't, I want to change, but I don't want to change" before the individual changes from
Behaviour A to Behaviour B. The interventions of others help the person to explore and
resolve the ambivalence, conflicting beliefs and thinking that slows or prevents change. These
interventions are not therapy. Rather, they get the person ready to engage in behaviour change.
MI and forms the basis for CSC's Motivation-Based Intervention Strategy (Girard and Bastien,
MI has three characteristics (Miller and Rollnick, 2002):
Part V. Elements of correctional practice with families
1. Collaboration. A partnership is established to provide an environment in which
change can happen.
2. Evocation. Listening for change and motivating, eliciting or reinforcing change when
it occurs.
3. Autonomy. The individual has the ability to choose, and others must respect that
ability to choose. Change cannot be forced or imposed on anyone. Change comes from
within the individual.
MI can also provide a framework for interactions between staff and contractors with the
families of offenders.
The philosophy behind MI would also point out that the family’s
responses and reactions may be evoked by environmental conditions. The incarceration of a
family member is, in most cases, a very stress-producing experience for the family. For some
families, interactions with correctional staff evoke a feeling of shame that a family member has
been determined by the courts to warrant imprisonment.
A correctional facility and its
procedures can also be intimidating. Security procedures such as clearing in, searches, etc. can
elicit feelings of shame, resentment and anger. Other contributors may include the emotional,
financial and social hardships imposed on the family because of the offender's criminal
behaviour and incarceration. The cumulative effects of the shaming experiences on the family
and the intimidating prison environment can evoke strong reactions among some family
members. This can affect a good working relationship between correctional staff, contractors
and families. Changes to the physical layout of an institution can sometimes affect the
environmental impact of the correctional facility on the family (Withers, 2003).
It is, however, effective correctional responses to families by staff and contractors are
one of the biggest assets to the Mission of the Correctional Service of Canada. Staff and
contractors who have contact with families need specific communications and interpersonal
skills. Responses that are collaborative, respectful, factual and forthright meet the needs of
families and goals of the correctional process: a safe and successful return to society by the
Part V. Elements of correctional practice with families
Part VI. Staff selection and evaluation
Staff selection and evaluation. By Bonnie Misener and Don
There are several attributes of staff that are important for those working with families of
offenders. The following lists those of prime importance.
Attitudes and Beliefs
Every person operates according to certain values. These values form the belief system
that governs what is important to them. One of the most important selection criteria for staff
who work with families of offenders is their beliefs about families of offenders and their
attitudes towards them.
Beliefs and attitudes are not easy to change and therefore it is
important to select staff who already hold attitudes and beliefs that foster a productive working
relationship with families of offenders. One such belief is that families of offenders are an asset
to be encouraged rather than a problem to be accommodated. If they hold this belief, then they
Some other important values within their belief system that are important for staff
working with families of offenders are respect for others, valuing human relationships,
integrity, honesty, and consistency.
Demonstrated interpersonal strengths
In discussing the role of staff, Tellier and Serin (2000) conclude that the most effective
program staff have a firm but fair interaction style and body language, are supportive; actively
listen; are appropriate in their self-disclosure (knowledge of boundary issues); use open-ended
questions but are also directive (not aggressive), can be flexible, encourage active participation,
and lastly, use humour appropriately (not manipulative or derogatory). These interpersonal
Part VI. Staff selection and evaluation
will be more likely to open to learning new strategies for working with families of offenders.
strengths are as important for staff who work with families as they are for staff who work with
Potential to develop the core communication skills and practices
It is important to select staff who have the potential to develop new communication and
other skills that are essential to working with families. The y need to be open to new ideas.
They need to have the background experience and education to provide a good foundation for
the development of the skills and practices. They need to have the personal strength and
integrity to be consistent in using the new skills and practices in an environment that may not
always be supportive of their way of relating.
Readiness for Supervision.
While staff training can be accomplished through a lecture format in a classroom
setting, many of the skills required to work with families of offenders require practice and
refinement through supervised practice. In their approach to training the skills needed for
Motivational Interviewing, Miller and Rollnick (2002) propose a method of training involving
Part VI. Staff selection and evaluation
skills practice while under direct supervision, either in the classroom or on-the-job. For them,
training is much more than the ability to recall of intellectual concepts. It is also the ability to
perform the skill itself in a practice or real life situation. They assert that learning interpersonal
skills such as those required in motivational interviewing includes both training in skills
development and attitude adjustment, and that (Miller and Rollnick, 2002, p.181):
One of the reasons it is possible to keep on learning and improving one’s skills in
motivational interviewing is that immediate expert feedback is continuously
available. It is available from those you serve. …Once you learn what to watch for
in your clients, you have an excellent source of immediate corrective
feedback….When the counselor offers an effective reflective listening statement,
the person keeps talking, even when the counselor’s assumption about what the
concern is was wrong. When the counselor instead offers a roadblock response,
the person stops, or backs up, or heads off in a different direction. The person’s
response thus provides immediate feedback about one's listening skills.
Learning the core communication skills and practices may be relatively easy but the
integration of the knowledge into practice is more difficult to achieve and learning may best
happen with supervised practice. It is thus important for staff to be open and willing to
participate in supervision.
This chapter concludes with the response of an ex-offender, who served a total of 32
years in prison, to the question of the role that his family played in his successful re-integration
(Misener, 2006):
During the time I was in jail family gave me something to focus on besides prison
politics. Sharing responsibility for decision-making regarding the kids and sending
money home helped me begin to develop accountability before I was released. Once
I could begin to get passes family gave me the foundation I needed to have hope
beyond prison, and the responsibility I needed to grow in being accountable.
Family provided the support I needed to pay the price of freedom. Without my
family I could not have resisted the temptation of alcohol and drugs during the
difficult times. It was accountability to my family for my behaviour that
contributed the most to my staying clean and responsible inside and outside.
with the correctional system. Families require effective correctional practices and it is their
interaction with CSC staff that can provide a significant reinforcement to the family’s ongoing
contribution to the correctional process.
Part VI. Staff selection and evaluation
Correctional staff and contractors may be the first contact that family members have
Staff Training. By Lloyd Withers.
Posts or positions that involve service points to families require staff and contractors to
be specifically selected and trained for their roles in balancing safety and security with a human
services/restorative justice approach. Dealing with the families of offenders requires key
competencies with respect to ethics and values and specific skills
Statements of Qualifications for posts or positions that involve contact with families of
offenders requires at a minimum: possess particular knowledge, experience, ability and
personal suitability for working with families of offenders, demonstrated effectiveness in
interpersonal relations within the correctional setting, familiarity with local community
resources; and knowledgeable of the Mission of the CSC.
Credentials, technical knowledge and skills competencies are important. Values-based
recruitment for posts or positions that involve contact with families is also important. Ethics
and values include: the ability to treat people fairly and with dignity and respect, ability to deal
with ambiguity and risk, capability of problem-solving multiple problems simultaneously; and
the ability to work with others of different cultures. There is also a requirement for ongoing
evaluation or performance appraisal as values that conflict with appropriate services to families
Part VI. Staff selection and evaluation
of offender can be detrimental to engaging the family in the correctional process.
No posts or positions within CSC focus solely on support or interventions with families
of offenders. The selection and training of Primary Workers, however, provides the closest
approximation to the skills, abilities and knowledge that may be required for non-specialized
staff to work with families. The Statement of Qualifications for the Primary Worker positions is
already 'non-standard.' Currently within CSC, the Primary Workers at the Regional Facilities
for Women are provided training that appropriately equips them for service provision to women
and to address family concerns in the institution and through the Mother-Child program. This
includes such training as Non-Violent Crisis Intervention, Women-Centred Staff Training,
training in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, and at the Healing Lodge, a Counseling
Development component and a Community Relations component (Correctional Service of
Canada, 2005).
Because of their current training, Primary Workers and other staff at the Regional
Facilities may require a shorter training regime on staff responses to family-based issues.
Parent-child issues are a significant concern for Federally Sentenced Women and it is likely that
staff are already aware of and sensitive to the effects of criminal behaviour and incarceration on
the children of the women and the reintegration hopes of the women. A much larger training
component on families of offenders may be needed for staff at male institutions.
A basic training module for effective services to families of offenders would have the
following components:
1. CSC's legal and policy requirements with respect to families of offenders.
2. Overview of family issues, including restorative justice and the family, the Support
and Accountability Matrix and the emotional cycle of incarceration.
3. Balancing safety and security while engaging the family as an asset during
incarceration and reintegration.
4. Understanding and assessing family needs.
5. The CAPRA model of problem-solving with families of offenders.
6. (As required) Aboriginal, Inuit and Métis families - family assessment and support.
Aboriginal families and communities.
8. (As required) Family needs of federally sentence women during incarceration and
9. Interpersonal communications, skills and boundaries.
10. Ethics of service provision to families.
11. Resources for service provision to families and referral skills.
Training for posts or positions that involve service points to families can be
accomplished through a variety of means. While some training may need to be in-class and
Part VI. Staff selection and evaluation
7. (As required) Exit and Entry Circles and Ceremonies marking transitions for
involving experiential learning and practice of communication skills and interventions,
computerized self-study modules can ensure accessibility to training by a variety of staff and
contractors, including correctional officers, parole officers, other staff such as the switchboard
operator, Chaplains, Health Care staff, Social workers and Aboriginal Liaison Officers and
It is advisable to make the computerized training available to CSC's community
partners in the voluntary sector. It is also preferable that completion of training be certified and
corrections…training must reach the front-line staff in order to achieve correctional results."
Effective correctional responses to families of offenders are carried out by effective staff and
Part VI. Staff selection and evaluation
Part VII. Resources for service providers
Resources for Service Providers. By Susan Gilger
The following list of resources is not intended as an exhaustive list of resources for
services providers to families of offenders. Resources and the level of services provided by the
various resources vary by Region. Listings are under the following categories:
1. Aboriginal Families
2. Basic Resources For Families
3. Chaplaincy
4. Voluntary Sector Agencies
5. Family Services
6. Health
7. Human Rights
Part VII. Resources for Service Providers
8. Justice System
1. Aboriginal Families
Aboriginal Canada Portal
On-line resources, contacts, information and government services for aboriginal persons
Toll free #: 1-888-399-0111
E-mail: [email protected]
First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada
Database on First Nations child and family services, Community projects, relevant publications
Suite 1001
75 Albert St.
Ottawa, ON K1P 5E7
(613) 230-5885
(613) 230-3080
[email protected]
Part VII. Resources for Service Providers
National Association of Friendship Centres
Access to cultural programs, education and training, employment counseling, health programs,
children and youth programs, healing circles, substance abuse programs. Website provides
contact info and links to provincial and territorial centres
Ottawa, On K2P 0L9
(613) 563-4844
(613) 594-3428
[email protected]
Native Child and Family Services of Toronto
Strives to provide for a life of quality, well-being, caring and healing for our children and
families in the Toronto Native Community
275 MacLaren St.
295 College Street
Toronto, ON M5T 1S2
(416) 969-8510
(416) 928-0706
[email protected]
Support Services:
464 Yonge Street,
Suite 201
Toronto, ON M4Y 1W9
(416) 969-8510
(416) 969-9251
[email protected]
Native Counselling Services of Alberta
Healing/training, counseling, dispute resolution
10975 124 Street
T5M 0H9
(780) 451-4002
(780) 428-0187
Online at www.ncsa.
2. Basic Resources For Families
Canadian Association of Food Banks
Umbrella association representing 250 member food banks. Located in every province and
territory. Website provides contact information and links for member food banks.
2968 Dundas St. West, Suite 203
Part VII. Resources for Service Providers
Edmonton, AB
Toronto, ON M6P 1Y8
(416) 203-9241
Toll Free:
(416) 203-9244
[email protected]
Goodwill Industries.
Operate retail thrift stores (clothing, household goods, furniture) across Canada. Proceeds fund
career training and employment programs. Website provides locator for regional headquarters,
retail sites and programs offered.
Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
Organization provides essential services to persons in need of assistance. (food, clothing, etc.)
Website provides contact information for regional and provincial councils.
Address: National Council of Canada
1247 Kilborn Place
Part VII. Resources for Service Providers
Ottawa, ON K1H 6K9
(613) 738-1118
(613) 738-4789
Value Village Thrift Stores
Non-profit thrift store chain that sells clothing and household goods. Website provides store
locations by province and city and address, telephone numbers and hours of operation are
3. Chaplaincy
Correctional Service of Canada Chaplaincy Division
340 Laurier Ave. West
Ottawa, ON K1A 0P9
(613) 996-9580
(613) 952-8464
[email protected]
Director General:
Terry Richardson
Telephone: (613) 996-0373
E-mail: [email protected]
Regional Chaplains - CSC
Atlantic Region:
John Tonks
Telephone: (902) 893-6751
Fax: (902) 893-4961
E-mail: [email protected]
Michel Beauchamp
Fax: 0514) 973-8000
E-mail: [email protected]
Hugh Kirkegaard
Telephone: (613) 530-6168
Fax: (613) 530-3006
E-mail: [email protected]
Ted Hughes
Telephone: (306) 975-4463
Fax: (303) 975-4435
E-mail: [email protected]
Part VII. Resources for Service Providers
Telephone: (450) 967-3498
Gerry Ayotte
Telephone: (604) 870-2660
Fax: (604) 870-2621
E-mail: [email protected]
4. Voluntary Sector Organizations
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada
Les Grands Frères Grandes Soeurs du Canada
Matches children with mentors, including children of incarcerated parents.
3228 South Service Road, Suite 113E
Part VII. Resources for Service Providers
Burlington, Ontario L7N 3H8
Toll free:
Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies
Federation of autonomous societies which works with and on behalf of women involved with
the justice system, particularly women in conflict with the law. Website lists contact
information for offices and programs.
701-151 Slater Street
Ottawa, ON K1P 5H3
(613) 238-2442
(613) 232-7130
[email protected]
Canadian Families and Corrections Network
Charity's mission is to: Build stronger and safer communities by assisting families affected by
criminal behaviour, incarceration and community reintegration. Offers a restorative approach to
families of adult offenders. Services include toll free information and referral services to
families; informational publications for families; policy and program development; Visitor
Resource Centres; staff and volunteer training. Website includes Directory of Canadian
Organizations Providing Services to the Families of Adult Offenders.
Box 35040
Kingston, ON K7L 5S5
(613) 541-0743
[email protected]
Toll free (English):1-888- 371-2326
In Québec:
Regroupement canadien d'aide aux familles des détenu(e)s
CPO 25005
Succ Jean Gauvin
Québec QC G1X 5A3
Toll free (French): 1-877-875-1285
[email protected]
John Howard Society
Mission: Effective, just and humane responses to the causes and consequences of crime.
Programs and projects: Advocacy, research, community education, coalition building, resource
development. Website provides contact info for offices and services across Canada.
809 Blackburn Mews
Kingston, ON K7P 2N6
(613) 6272
(613) 384-1847
E-mail:Online at website
Part VII. Resources for Service Providers
Programs: prison visitation; parent to parent; (volunteers matched to mothers of children ages
0-5) community chaplaincy, Circles of Support and Accountability. Programs limited to British
208-2825 Clearbrook Rd
Abbotsford, BC
V2T 6S3
(604) 859-3215
Toll free:
(604) 859-1216
[email protected]
Salvation Army
Part VII. Resources for Service Providers
Christian organization providing services to offenders, victims, witnesses and other persons
affected by and serving in the justice system. Website provides links to territorial and
provincial headquarters, information on programs offered in correctional facilities, addresses,
hours of operation, telephone numbers, e-mail and websites of headquarters across Canada.
St. Leonard’s Society of Canada
National affiliation of non-profit community organizations and individuals committed to the
prevention of crime through programs which promote responsible community living and safer
communities. Variety of residential and non-residential programs for chronic substance
abusers, long term offenders and developmentally challenged offenders. Website lists local
208-211 Bronson
Ottawa, ON K1R 6H5
(613) 233-5170
(613) 233-5122
[email protected]
The 7th Step Society of Canada
Self-help program working in the criminal justice system to assist offenders or ex-offenders in
changing attitudes and behaviours that led them into conflict with the law. Community services
include parole supervision, referrals, training for volunteers. Website provides contact info for
provincial affiliates in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia,
Ontario and Quebec.
P.O. Box 85040
Albert Park Post Office
Calgary, AB T2A 7R7
(403) 995-4029
(403) 650-1902
[email protected]
5. Family Services
Association of Jewish Family and Children’s Agencies
L’Association des services de réhabilitation sociale du Québec
L’Association des services de réhabilitation sociale du Québec (ASRSQ) est un organisme
d’action communautaire en réinsertion sociale œuvrant dans le domaine de la justice pénale et
voué à la réinsertion sociale des contrevenants.
2000 boul. St-Joseph Est
Montréal, Québec
H2H 1E4
Télécopieur: (514)521-3753
Courriel: [email protected]
Part VII. Resources for Service Providers
Membership organization of Jewish Family and Children’s Agencies. Provides services to
children, adults and elderly in the Jewish and general communities. Website includes a
directory of agencies and services in Canada. Directory lists services offered and links to
agency websites.
Block Parent Program of Canada
Volunteer run child safety organization. Programs include safety network, community
education programs. Programs focused on children, teens and seniors. Website contains links
to provincial and territorial program locations.
Unit 130
80 Bradford St.
Barrie, ON L4N 6S7
Telephone/Fax: (705) 792-4245
Toll free:
Canada Safety Council
National non-governmental, charitable organization for safety programs. Website provides
information on child safety and links to government portals and cooperating agencies.
Address: 1020 Thomas Spratt Place
Part VII. Resources for Service Providers
Ottawa, ON K1G 5L5
(613) 739-1535
(613) 739-1566
E-mail: [email protected]
Canadian Association for Community Living
Canada-wide association working for the benefit of persons of all ages who have an intellectual
disability. Website provides contact info for all provincial and territorial ACLS
Kinsmen Building,
York University
4700 Keele Street
Toronto, ON M3J 1P3
(416) 661-9611
(416) 661-5701
(416) 661-2023
[email protected]
Catholic Charities/ Diocese of Calgary
Website lists charities supported by the Bishop’s Fund with links to their websites.
Organizations include those providing support services in the areas of housing, child car, food,
counseling, family violence and addiction. (Alberta only)
Catholic Social Services: Edmonton, Alberta
Multi-function social service agency. Serves persons of all faiths and cultures throughout
Central and Northeast Alberta. Contact information for 10 office locations in Edmonton and
surrounding areas provided on website. Services include: individual/family counseling; group
and foster care for children and youth; home care services; settlement support for immigrants
and refugees; residential and outreach programs for persons with physical and/or developmental
disabilities as well as those persons living with HIV/AIDS; referral and support for those
experiencing elder abuse.
(Alberta only)
The Centre for Children and Families in the Justice System
Formerly the London Family Court Clinic, the Centre for Children and Families in the Justice
System is a non-profit social service agency devoted to helping children and families involved
with the justice system as victims of crime, witnesses of crime, parties in custody disputes,
subjects of child protection proceedings, litigants in civil suits for compensation, teenagers in
therapeutic care settings, or youthful offenders. They are known around the world for our
innovative work on children exposed to domestic violence.
London Family Court Clinic
254 Pall Mall St., Suite 200
London ON N6A 5P6
(519) 679-7250
(519) 675-7772
[email protected]
Part VII. Resources for Service Providers
Child and Family Canada
Canadian public education website. Consortium of 50 Canadian non-profit organizations that
provide resources on children and families. Focus areas: health, poverty and education issues.
List of member organizations with links to their websites and services. Manageing partner of
the consortium is:
Canadian Child Care Federation
201-383 Parkdale Ave
Ottawa, ON K1Y 4R4
(613) 729-5289
Toll free:
(613) 729-3159
[email protected]
(Editor's Note: Add the Children and Families of the London Family Court information here)
Part VII. Resources for Service Providers
Child Welfare League
National member-based organization dedicated to the well-being and protection of all children
and youth. Website includes a comprehensive list of links to League members in all provinces
and territories such as Children’s Aid Societies, Family and Children’s Services, Children’s
Advocates and the Canadian Red Cross.
75 Albert St.,
Suite 1001
Ottawa, ON K1P 5E7
(613) 235-4412
(613) 235-7616
[email protected]
City of Toronto: Family Links
Website provides contact information and links for all Children’s Aid Societies in Ontario.
Also has Housing Connections site and a link to 211 Toronto, an information hotline for all
social services in the 416 and 905 area codes.
Family Service Canada
Not for profit national volunteer organization. Represents concerns of families and family
serving agencies. Members include family service agencies, corporations, government agencies,
individuals. Programs: Information and consultation; public awareness on social issues; social
action and advocacy; family education. Projects: early intervention and prevention of violence
and abuse in families.
404-383 Parkdale Ave.
Ottawa, ON K1Y 4R4
(613) 722-9006
Toll free:
(613) 722-8610
Federation of Child and Family Services of British Columbia
Province-wide network of community agencies providing services to children, youth and
PO Box 8425
Victoria, BC V8W 3S1
(250) 480-7387
(250) 480-7396
[email protected]
Part VII. Resources for Service Providers
E-mail:[email protected]
National Clearinghouse on Family Violence
Resource centre for information on violence within the family. Centralized reference, referral
and distribution service for info on aspects of family violence prevention, protection and
treatment. Resources and services available free of charge in both English and French. Part of
the Public Health Agency of Canada.
9th Floor
Jeanne Mance Building
Tunney’s Pasture,
A.L. 1909D1
Ottawa, ON K1A 1B4
1-800-276-1291 or
(613) 957-2938
1-800-561-5643 or
(613) 952-6396
(613) 941-8930
[email protected]
Part VII. Resources for Service Providers
Registry of Marriage and Family Therapists in Canada
Website has links to associations of Marriage and Family Therapists in Alberta, British
Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.
35 Adeline Ave.
P.O. Box 693
Tottenham, ON
L0G 1W0
Toll free:
In Ontario:
(905) 936-3338
(905) 936-9192
E-mail: [email protected]
You Can ! (Youth Canada Association)
National non-profit charitable organization focused on training youth in the areas of conflict
resolution and violence prevention. Partners with school boards and community based youth
serving organizations. Programs: multi-day training seminars; conferences; summer camps.
233 Main St.
c/o St. Paul University
Ottawa, ON K1S 1C4
(613) 230-1903
1-888-4 YOUCAN
(613) 235-5801
Toll free fax: 1-877-309-5969
Additional offices in Edmonton and Toronto, with contact info on website.
The Vanier Institute of the Family
94 Centrepoint Dr.
Ottawa, ON K2G 6B1
(613) 228-8500
(613) 228-8007
E-mail: [email protected]
6. Health
Canadian Health Network
National bilingual health promotion program (web-based). Network includes the Public Health
Agency of Canada and Health Canada as well as national and provincial/territorial non-profit
organizations. Website provides links to network organization sites. Its mission is to promote
healthy choices by communicating trustworthy information through a network of expert
Part VII. Resources for Service Providers
Charitable organization focused on the importance of the family in Canadian Society.
Programs fall into four categories: research; public education; consultation; advocacy
organizations. Topics include children; HIV/AIDS; Mental Health; substance abuse/addictions;
and violence prevention.
Public Health Agency of Canada
10th Floor,
Jeanne Mance Building
Tunney’s Pasture,
A.L. 1910B
Ottawa, ON K1A 0K9
[email protected]
Canadian HIV/AIDS Information Centre
Provides information and communication services on HIV prevention, care, treatment and
support. Canada’s largest library of HIV/AIDS resources. Links to national and community
organizations as well as resource centres and hotlines.
400-1565 Carling Ave.
Part VII. Resources for Service Providers
Ottawa, ON K1Z 8R1
Toll free:
(613) 725-3434
(613) 725-1205
[email protected]
Canadian Mental Health Association
Nationwide, charitable organization that promotes the mental health of all and supports the
resilience and recovery of people experiencing mental illness. Website provides maps and links
to all CMHA location nationwide as well as CMHS partners Canadian Alliance on Mental
Health and the Canadian Health Network.
180 Dundas St. West, Suite 2301,
Toronto, ON M5G 1Z8
(416) 484-7750
(416) 484-4617
[email protected]
Health Canada
Website addresses various health and wellness topics. Of special interest: publications and
programs focused on treatment and rehabilitation programs for individuals with substance
abuse problems.
Public Health Agency of Canada
Website provides regional office contact information; list of publications; and links to the
Canadian Health Network.
130 Colonnade Rd.
Ottawa, ON K1Z 0K9
7. Human Rights
Canadian Human Rights Commission
Administers Canadian Human Rights Act. Responsible for ensuring compliance with the
Employment Equity Act. Areas of involvement: discrimination and harassment and alternative
dispute resolution. Website provides info about filing complaints and links to regional offices.
344 Slater St., 8th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1A 1E1
(613) 995-1151
Toll free:
(613) 996-9661
International Ombudsman Institute
Role of ombudsman is to protect people against violation of rights, abuse of powers, error,
negligence, unfair decisions and maladministration in order to improve public administration
and make governments actions more open and accountable to the public.
Part VII. Resources for Service Providers
Website has links to all provincial ombudsman offices in Canada. Information available in
English, French and Spanish.
Rm. 238 Weir Library
Faculty of Law, University of Alberta
Edmonton, AB
T6G 2H5
(780) 492-3196
(780) 492-4924
E-mail: [email protected] or
[email protected]
8. Justice System
Project of Legal Studies Program, Faculty of Extension, University of Alberta. Nationwide
service dedicated to making law and justice resources available to all Canadians. Website
contains links to legal information; discussions of justice issues; legal database.
Part VII. Resources for Service Providers
Address: Rm.4-40B, 8303 112 St.
174 University Campus NW
Edmonton, AB T6G 2T4
[email protected]
Canadian Training Institute
Training and development programs for personal and professional development of staff,
volunteers and individuals involved with or sered by criminal justice, social service and other
human service agencies. Programs include crisis intervention and trauma support.
50 Euston St.
Toronto, ON M4J 3N3
(416) 778-7056
(416) 778-8103
Independent, national, free lawyer referral service. Website provides a directory of, and links to,
all provincial and territorial legal aid offices.
Church Council on Justice and Corrections
National faith-based coalition created to promote a restorative approach to justice with
emphasis on addressing the needs of victims and offenders. Project: Collaborative Justice
Project Uses RJ approach to work with post-charge, pre-sentence cases of both adults and youth
at the Ottawa Provincial Courthouse. Referrals provided by judges, crown attorneys, defence
counsel, police and probation officers. Website include links to other Restorative Justice
organizations and projects.
507 Bank St., 2nd. Fl.
Ottawa, ON K2P 1Z5
(613) 563-1688 ext.8
(613) 237-6129
[email protected]
The mission of NAACJ is to enhance the capacity of member organizations to contribute a just,
fair, equitable and effective justice system. Website includes list of member organization and
links to their websites.
306-180 Metcalfe St.
Ottawa, ON K2P 1P5
(613) 761-1032
(613) 761-9767
[email protected]
National Pardon Centre
Non-profit organization that assists individuals with Canadian pardon and USA entry waiver
applications. Two locations; can also apply on-line.
Part VII. Resources for Service Providers
National Associations Active in Criminal Justice (NAACJ)
2000 Peel St.,
Suite 650
Montreal, Quebec
H3A 2W5
Toll free:
(514) 842-2411
(514) 842-8406
E-mail: [email protected]
910 7th Ave. SW
Calgary, AB T2P 3N8
Toll free:
(403) 698-8800
(403) 698-8801
E-mail: [email protected]
9. Other resources
Part VII. Resources for Service Providers
LifeLine is an innovative service provided through a partnership between Correctional Service
Canada (CSC), National Parole Board (NPB) and non-government organisations. It is about
long-term offenders "lifers" who have successfully re-integrated into the community for at least
five years and who are recruited to help other lifers throughout their sentences. The Mission of
LifeLine is to provide, through the In-Reach component and community endeavours, an
opportunity to motivate inmates and to marshal resources to achieve successful, supervised,
gradual reintegration into the community.
Jim Murphy
Correctional Service Canada
340 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0P9
[email protected]
A Guide To The Substitute Decisions Act (2000). Queen’s Printer for Ontario. Retrieved from
Alana, S, (2003). Impact of Incarceration and Reintegration on the Inuit Family. In L. Withers.
A Strategic Approach and Policy Document To Address the Needs of Families of Offenders:
Safety - Respect and Dignity - For All. (p. 47-49). Kingston, Ontario: Canadian Families and
Corrections Network.
Andrews. D. & Bonta, J. (1998). The Psychology of Criminal Conduct, 2nd edition. Cincinnati:
Andrews. D. & Bonta, J. (2006). The psychology of criminal conduct (4th edition). Cincinnati:
Bonta, J. and Rugge, T. (2004). Case Management in Manitoba Parole. Retrieved from 2004-1_e.asp on 24 October 2006
Bloom, B. (1992). Incarcerated mothers and their children: Maintaining family ties. In Female
offenders: Meeting needs of a neglected population. (pp.61-68). Baltimore: United Book Press,
Canadian Human Rights Commission (2003). Protecting Their Rights: A Systemic Review of
Human Rights in Correctional Services for Federally Sentenced Women. Special Report.
Retrieved from
Canadian Psychological Association (2000). Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists.
Retrieved from
Champagne, D. (2006). Definition of discharge planning. Focus on Infectious Diseases
Newsletter, 4 (2) Winter 2006.
Correctional Service of Canada (1993). A Code of Professional Conduct for CSC Chaplains.
Retrieved at
Correctional Service of Canada (1995). Guidelines for Parenting Skills Programs for Federally
Sentenced Women. Ottawa: Correctional Service of Canada.
Correctional Services of Canada (1990). Creating Choices: Report of the Task Force on
Federally Sentenced Women. Ottawa: Correctional Services of Canada.
Correctional Service of Canada (1998). Implementing The Life Line Concept: Report Of The
Task Force On Long Term Offenders. Retrieved from .
Correctional Service of Canada (2002). Final Report Document: Institutional Mother-Child
Program. Ottawa, Ontario: Correctional Service of Canada.
Correctional Service of Canada (2005) Workplace Issues. Ottawa, Ontario: Correctional
Service of Canada. Retrieved from
Correctional Service of Canada (2006a). Restorative Justice. Retrieved from on 9 November 2006
Correctional Service of Canada (2006b). The Audit of Drug Interdiction Activities. CSC:
Ottawa, Ontario. Retrieved from on 19 February 2007.
Correctional Service of Canada (2006c). Response and Action Plan for Inspection of Nova and
Grand Valley Institution by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons. Retrieved from the World
Wide Web at
Correctional Service of Canada (2006d). Support for families from Day One. Retrieved from
Correctional Service of Canada (2007). Correspondence from Christina Guest, Project Officer,
Chaplaincy Branch, Correctional Service of Canada to Lloyd Withers.
Dell, C. & Boe, R. (2000). An exmination of Aboriginal and Caucasian women offender risk
and needs factors. Research Report R-94. Ottawa, Ontario: Correctional Service of Canada.
Egan, G. (1986). The Skilled Helper. Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole.
Eljdupovic-Guzina, G. (1999). Parenting roles and experiences of abuse in women offenders:
Review of the Offender Intake Assessments. Ottawa, Ontario: Correctional Services of Canada.
Farrington, D. (2004). Families and crime. In J. Wilson &J. Petersilia (Eds.) Crime: Public
policies for Crime Prevention (pp. 129 - 148). Oakland, CA: ICS Press.
Girard, S. & Bastien, I. (2004). Enhancing Readiness to Change, Caseworker's Guide. Ottawa,
Ontario: Correctional Service of Canada.
Goldberg, M., Barbara, W. L., Mello, N. K., Mendelson, J. & Bower, T. A. (1997). Impact of
maternal alcoholism on separation of children from their mothers: Findings from a sample of
incarcerated women. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 66 (2), 228-238.
Hairston, C. F. (1991). Mothers in jail: Parent-child separation and jail visitation. Affilia, 2, 927.
Heckbert, D. & Turkington, D. (2001). Turning points: Factors related to the successful
reintegration of Aboriginal offenders. Research Report R-112. Ottawa, Ontario: Correctional
Service of Canada.
Heney, J. (1996). Dying on the inside: Suicide and suicidal feelings among federally
incarcerated women. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Carleton University, Ottawa.
Jenner, S. & McCarthy, G. (1995). Quantitative measures of parenting: A clinical
developmental perspective. In P.Reder & C. Lucey (Eds.) Assessment of parenting: Psychiatric
and psychological contributions (pp. 136 -151). New York: Routledge.
MacCullum-Paterson, M. (1988). Toward a Justice that Heals. Toronto: The United Church
Publishing House.
McCold, P. and Wachtel, T. (2003). In pursuit of paradigm: A theory of Restorative Justice.
Restorative Practices E-Forum. Retreived from on 15 September 2006.
McVie, F. (2001). Drugs in federal corrections - The issues and challenges. Forum on
Corrections Research, 13 (3), 7-9.
Miller, W. and Rollnick, S. (2002). Motivational Interviewing: Preparing People for Change,
Second Edition. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Misener, D. (2006). Personal communications between D. Misener and a parolee, December
22, 2006.
Petersilia, J. (2004). Community Corrections. In J. Wilson, & J. Petersilia, (Eds.), Crime:
Public Policies for Crime Prevention (pp. 483 – 508). Oakland, CA: ICS Press.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (2007). Community Policing Problem Solving Model CAPRA. Retrieved at
Serin, R. (2005) Evidence-Based Practice: Principles for enhancing correctional results in
prison. National Institute of Corrections. Retrieved from http://nicic.ord/Downloads/PDF/
Serin, R. & Brown, S. (2002). Marital/Family risk factors and criminal recidivism: What do
we know? Families and Corrections Journal, 6(2), 2 - 4.
Saulis, M., Fiddler, S., & Howse, Y. (2001). Release potential of federally sentenced Aboriginal
inmates to communities: A community-based research report. Research Report R-110. Ottawa,
Ontario: Correctional Service of Canada.
Shaw, M. K., K. Rodgers, J. Blanchette, T. Hattem, L. Seto Thomas and L. Tamarack (1990).
Survey of Federally Sentenced Women: Report to the Task Force on Federally Sentenced
Women on the Prison Survey. Ottawa: Ministry of the Solicitor General User Report No. 19914.
Solicitor General Canada (1996). Commission of Inquiry into Certain Events at the Prison for
Women, Kingston. Ottawa, Ontario: Public Works and Government Services. Retrieved from
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Statistics Canada (2004). Family violence: Demonstration study of sentencing outcomes, 2004.
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Correctional Service of Canada.
Tellier, C. & Serin, R. (2000). The Role of Staff in Effective Program Delivery,Compendium
2000. Retrieved from
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Crime: Public Policies for Crime Prevention (pp. 109-127). Oakland, CA: ICS Press.
Tomporowski, B. (2006). Can Restorative Practices Promote Healing in situations of Family
Violence? Address to the National Restorative Justice Symposium. Fredericton, New
Brunswick, November, 2006.
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Ottawa, Ontario: Canadian Government Publishing, Communications Canada. Retrieved from
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Tables. Retrieved from
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Correctional Service of Canada.
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to Improve Supervision. New York, NY: Family Justice.
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from a pilot study of soon-to-be-released prisoners in Maryland. Justice Research and Policy 5
(2), 55-74.
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Corrections Research, 7 (2), 25-28.
Wiebe, R. (2000). Reflections of a Canadian Prison Warden: The Visonary Legacy of Ron
Wiebe: an Unfinished Conversation Retrieved from
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Women and Their Children. Solicitor General of Canada: User Report No. 1992-03.
Withers, L. (2001). Waiting at the Gate: Families, corrections and restorative justice. Kingston,
Ontario: Canadian Families and Corrections Network.
Withers, L. (2003). A Strategic Approach and Policy Document To Address the Needs of
Families of Offenders: Safety - Respect and Dignity - For All. Kingston, Ontario: Canadian
Families and Corrections Network.
Withers, L. (2005a). Coordinator Family Support Project, Final Report - Evaluation,
Millhaven Assessment Unit, Millhaven Institution.
Withers, L. (2005b). "Restorative approaches to families across the incarceration cycle.
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A. Memorandum of Understanding
Note: For the purposes of this document, references to families in the Memorandum of
Understanding between the Interfaith Committee on Chaplaincy and the Correctional Service of
Canada are in bold.
Memorandum of Understanding between
the Interfaith Committee on Chaplaincy
the Correctional Service of Canada
Preamble and Purpose
This document is a renewal of an agreement originally made on January 25, 1982 and renewed
on February 3, 1988, October 22, 1993, and May 1, 2000 between the Correctional Service of
Canada (CSC) and the Interfaith Committee on Chaplaincy (IFC). Hereinafter it will be
referred to as the MOU. It reflects the mutual concerns held for the spiritual dimension of life
as expressed by the delivery of pastoral care through the effective provision of chaplaincy
The quest for meaning is an inherent part of being human. Making sense of life, exploring truth
and determining individual and collective responsibility orient people beyond the limits of their
own existence and toward the role that others and the divine play in their lives.
Chaplaincy in the correctional setting accompanies people affected by crime and incarceration
as they deal with these fundamental spiritual issues, journeying with them in an open-ended
way to deepen their understanding and appreciation of life and assisting them to achieve greater
wholeness and fulfilment and safe reintegration into the wider community. Chaplaincy differs
from a programme model of service delivery by using a unique accompaniment approach based
on the principles of restorative justice.
Canadian and International Mandate
A. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, paragraph 2(a), guarantees everyone
the fundamental freedom of conscience and religion.
B. The importance of the spiritual dimension of life is also incorporated in the Corrections
and Conditional Release Act, Sections 75 and 83, and in Regulations 98 to 101.
Sections 75 – An inmate is entitled to reasonable opportunities to freely and openly
participate in, and express, religion or spirituality, subject to such reasonable limits as
are proscribed for protecting the security of the penitentiary or the safety of persons”;
Section 83 –
1) - For greater certainty, aboriginal spirituality and aboriginal spiritual leaders and
elders have the same status as other religions and other religious leaders;
2) The Service shall take all reasonable steps to make available to aboriginal inmates the
services of an aboriginal spiritual leader or elder after consultation with:
(a) the National Aboriginal Advisory Committee
(b) the appropriate regional and local aboriginal advisory committees, if such
committees have been established pursuant to that section.
The Corrections and Conditional Release Regulations (CCRR), Section 100, adds:
(1) Every inmate shall be entitled to express the inmate's religion or spirituality in
accordance with section 75 of the Act to the extent that the expression of the inmate's
religion or spirituality does not
(a) jeopardize the security of the penitentiary or the safety of any person; or
(b) involve contraband.
(2) Sections 98 and 99 apply in respect of any assembly of inmates held for the purpose
of expressing a religion or spirituality.
And CCRR s.101 reads as follows:
The Service shall ensure that, where practicable, the necessities that are not contraband
and that are reasonably required by an inmate for the inmate's religion or spirituality are
made available to the inmate, including
(a) interfaith chaplaincy services;
(b) facilities for the expression of the religion or spirituality;
(c) a special diet as required by the inmate's religious or spiritual tenets; and
(d) the necessities related to special religious or spiritual rites of the inmate.
C. The Mission Statement of CSC commits CSC to “accommodate the…religious needs of
individuals” (Core Value 1, Guiding Principles) and “to respect the…religious
differences of individual offenders” (Strategic Objective 1.7) all the while “actively
encouraging and assisting offenders to become law-abiding citizens”.
Core Value 1’s Guiding Principle also recognizes “the value of family and community
relationships”. Core Value 2 states that CSC recognizes “that the offender has the
potential to live as a law-abiding citizen.”
Its Guiding Principles include recognition of the value of establishing and maintaining
positive community and family relationships, the involvement of community
organizations, volunteers and outside professionals in program development and
The Strategic Objectives include ensuring “that volunteers form an integral part of our
program delivery in institutions and the community”, and mobilizing “community
resources to ensure that offenders, upon release, are provided with support and
D. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) Article 18 states that: "Everyone
has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom
to change his religion or belief, and freedom either alone or in community with others
and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship
and observance".
E. The U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners expand these
principles in Sections 41 and 42 as follows:
41. (1) If the institution contains a sufficient number of prisoners of the same
religion, a qualified representative of that religion shall be appointed or approved. If
the number of prisoners justifies it and conditions permit, the arrangement should be
on a full-time basis.
41. (2) A qualified representative appointed or approved under paragraph (1) shall
be allowed to hold regular services and to pay pastoral visits in private to prisoners
of his religion at proper times.
41. (3) Access to a qualified representative of any religion shall not be refused to
any prisoner. On the other hand, if any prisoner should object to a visit of any
religious representative, his attitude shall be fully respected.
42. As far as practicable, every prisoner shall be allowed to satisfy the needs of his
religious life by attending the services provided in the institution and having in his
possession the books of religious observance and instruction of his denomination.
Relationship between the IFC and the CSC
A. This MOU confirms the moral obligations that accompany the legally binding
obligations contained in the contract for services between the CSC and the IFC.
B. This MOU confirms the role of the IFC as advisory to the CSC; collaborative in
identifying potential chaplains and participating in selection and evaluation processes;
supportive to chaplains; and facilitative in providing liaison between the CSC and
Canada's faith communities.
C. The IFC will play this role by fulfilling the Statement of Work enshrined in a contract
for services concluded with the CSC.
D. The Constitution and By-Laws of the IFC will be consistent with the spirit and content
of this MOU. Amendments to the Constitution of the IFC will be made in consultation
with the CSC.
E. CSC will regularly consult with the IFC on matters of religious policy and practice in
the institution and community through:
- an Annual Meeting of the IFC membership planned so that Senior Management in
the CSC may attend;
- meetings of the IFC officers with the CSC management at least once a year;
- ongoing communication between the IFC and the Director General of Chaplaincy.
F. The IFC will provide liaison, linkage and information, and will stimulate involvement
by faith communities in correctional chaplaincy both in the institutions and in the
community from a restorative justice perspective.
G. The IFC will make itself available to facilitate dialogue between and among parties
involved in the contracting process. When there is a conflict in the delivery of
chaplaincy services, the IFC will make itself available to assist in bringing about
reconciliation and/or a just solution, upon request.
H. The IFC will advise on a generic statement of work for the CSC chaplains and advise
the CSC about operational aspects of contract chaplaincy services.
I. The IFC will advise CSC Chaplaincy in the development of new initiatives and
implementation strategies to support the initiatives, including advocating to secure the
necessary funding.
J. When a dispute arises between CSC and the IFC, the basic resolution strategy will be to
give prompt attention to the disputed matter and work the issues out at the lowest level
using a process that potentially involves three stages: negotiation, mediation, arbitration.
K. The CSC and the IFC will develop a framework for evaluating the results of the present
MOU within the first year it is in effect.
Statement of Principles
This MOU is guided by the following principles:
A. Because CSC exercises varying degrees of control over the lives of people serving
sentences within its institutions and in the community, CSC is responsible for enabling
the exercise of religious rights and freedoms and for accommodating religious and
spiritual practice through the provision of chaplaincy services. The CSC and the IFC
recognize that all CSC staff contribute to the responsibility to accommodate offenders’
religious needs with the chaplains taking a leading role.
B. The IFC and the CSC work in partnership to provide chaplaincy services through
Canada’s faith communities. The IFC and the CSC affirm that chaplaincy services are
essential to the fulfilment of CSC’s Mission and Core Values and endorse the
integration of spiritual growth and healing within the correctional response offered to
C. Chaplaincy in the institutional and community settings depends on the existence of an
effective relationship between the chaplains and their faith community and on the active
involvement of volunteers. Of primary concern to chaplains is the creating and
strengthening of community. They bring hope of restored community to those who
have lost it, provide a living experience and model of community to those who may
never have known it, and bridge offenders back into community in ways that help them
find belonging and fulfilment there. Their work is, therefore, focussed on responding to
the relational needs of offenders, staff and their respective families.
E. Chaplains offer a voice to the CSC, offenders and their families that is rooted in the
teachings and traditions of the faith communities of Canada. Notwithstanding their care
for those whom they serve, chaplains also fulfil a prophetic role, challenging staff and
offenders whose words or actions diminish the worth and dignity of human life. The
IFC and CSC are committed to ensuring that the chaplains’ freedom of religion is
respected in the actions they undertake to fulfil their delivery of services within CSC.
The CSC will not require chaplains to act against the beliefs and practices of their faith
community or their conscience.
F. Through its role with the faith communities that provide the pastoral mandate for
institutional and community chaplaincy, the IFC is a partner with the CSC in the
delivery of a continuum of care model of chaplaincy services, throughout the
incarceration and reintegration process. Chaplaincy reflects a commitment on the part
D. The IFC and the CSC believe that the CSC Mission is enhanced when offenders and
their families are supported as an asset to reintegration, successful conditional release
and desistence, and when the family’s role in crime prevention is strengthened.
of faith communities to providing spiritual care throughout the life of their members and
the acknowledgement on the part of the CSC of the value of spiritual and religious
belief and practice within the correctional process.
G. Chaplains are open to accompanying all persons in search of meaning, fulfilment and
respect for human dignity, and are as available to people who have no religious
affiliation as they are to people who have one. They take a holistic approach to the
needs of the people they serve, their concern being for the care of the whole person in
the context of their relationships, especially with family members.
H. The religious diversity of Canada, the offender population and the correctional staff is
reflected in the list of faith communities represented on the Interfaith Committee: (See
Appendix 1). The expression "interfaith chaplaincy services" (Corrections and
Conditional Release Regulations 101(a)) indicates the responsibility of chaplains to
exercise their profession by upholding the belief and practice of their faith community
within a multifaith setting, collaborating with representatives of religious expressions
different from their own and seeking to provide pastoral care and chaplaincy services to
persons of different faith communities with the same commitment as to members of
their own community. This model of service delivery is intended to strengthen the
participation of offenders and correctional staff in the faith life of their own
communities and to protect them from unwanted proselytizing.
I. In their role as pastors, Chaplains are available and responsive to the spiritual and
religious needs of offenders, staff and their families irrespective of their location within
CSC institutions or the circumstances surrounding the expression of these needs. In
addition chaplains provide religious education based on the faith they represent.
J. Chaplains work on the basis of a restorative approach to the harm caused by criminal
behaviour. Their concern for the wellbeing of victims and for the community at large
informs and shapes their work with offenders and staff.
K. Chaplains need specific knowledge and skills to minister effectively with offenders, exoffenders, staff, and their families; and volunteers need proper training, support and
supervision. CSC shares the responsibility with the faith communities for ensuring the
quality of chaplaincy services.
L. The CSC and IFC recognize that the wellbeing of chaplains depends not only on the
self-care practised by the chaplains but also on the care and support offered by the
Religious Authority (contractor) and the CSC.
Agreed Policy and Practice for the Provision of Chaplaincy Services
A. Structuring Relationships
1. Chaplaincy services are normally provided through contracts with a faith community.
(The roles and responsibilities of the people involved in managing and fulfilling the
contracts are outlined in Partners in Mission: Information Pertaining to
Protestant/Roman Catholic Chaplaincy.)
2. Liability remains a major concern for contractors and chaplains. Consequently, after
consulting with IFC, the contractors and chaplains, CSC will explore options available
in the current contract model to address their concerns.
3. Where the options available in the contract model are not adequate for the resolution of
the issues being identified, other models of providing chaplaincy will be considered by
the CSC.
4. It is essential that all chaplains maintain strong links with their faith community by
participating in the life of that community. Chaplaincy Leadership, institutional
authorities and the IFC each play a role in facilitating and promoting this relationship
with the mandating Religious Authority and reminding the Religious Authority of the
importance of providing support to both institutional and community chaplains.
5. The CSC will provide orientation and education about the contracting process for
Religious Authority (contractor).
7. Chaplaincy managers (including the Director General, Chaplaincy, Associate Director
General and Regional Chaplains) and resource people (project officers) who comprise
the Chaplaincy Leadership Team (CLT) will hired as indeterminate employees of the
CSC. A member of the IFC (or an appointee) will be invited to participate in an
advisory capacity on each selection board for members of the CLT. The performance
review and personal appraisal of members of the CLT may involve the President of the
IFC or a representative. CLT members will be invited to share this appraisal with their
Religious Authority.
6. Given the isolation and emotional demands that characterize work in the correctional
environment, and with a view to reducing the toll that it takes on chaplains, CSC
provides opportunities at the regional and national levels for them to strengthen ties with
one another and to access resources that encourage them to find meaning and fulfilment
in their work.
Providing Chaplaincy Services
1. The provisions in this section apply to services provided to the entire offender
population, men and women. The CSC and the IFC recognize that specific skills and
services may be required depending on the specific needs of the people being served.
2. Chaplains will be guided in their work by the Handbook on Chaplaincy in the
Correctional Service of Canada and the Code of Professional Conduct for Contract
Chaplains, developed by the IFC and the CSC.
3. Chaplains will have access to orientation to the correctional and reintegration
environment provided by the CSC.
4. CSC encourages chaplains to participate in ongoing professional development according
to standards for their faith community; the contractors are responsible for these costs.
5. Institutional and community chaplains collaborate with each other to mobilise the faith
community by recruiting, training, deploying, supervising and evaluating volunteers as
an integral part of the provision of chaplaincy services and of preparing offenders for
release. The IFC plays a role in heightening the faith communities’ awareness of the
role of volunteers within the institutional and reintegration chaplaincy settings.
6. As part of its effort to integrate chaplaincy services within the fulfilment of CSC’s
mandate, chaplains and Chaplaincy leadership will provide presentations on religious
diversity to CSC personnel in order to raise awareness of offenders’ religious rights and
needs and those of their families.
B. Women Offenders
Responding to the needs of women offenders presents a unique set of challenges both in the
institutions and in the community. While Chaplaincy is an essential component of the
multidisciplinary team approach inherent in women’s institutions, the fact that there is only one
institution for women in each region contributes to the isolation that chaplains to women
experience. In addition, these institutions are all multi-level facilities, often requiring varying
types and/or duplication of services. In the community, the small number of women on release
makes it difficult to identify funding and establish services targeted to the specific needs of
1. Chaplaincy services to women offenders will reflect Chaplaincy’s commitment
to fulfil the principles of Creating Choices: The Report of the Task Force on
Federally Sentenced Women. This includes consultation with the Women
Offenders Sector concerning women offender issues and an acknowledgement of
women offenders’ unique needs and the requirement for appropriate levels of
resources to meet these needs.
2. In the regional facilities for women, CSC reaffirms the policy of providing at
least 1,717.5 hours of chaplaincy services per year (the equivalent of one
institutional chaplain).
3. The IFC and the CSC affirm the research that indicates that women offenders
require a higher level of intervention (time and resources) on conditional release
in the community, given their increased responsibility on release (i.e. the
resumption of their parental responsibility as primary caregiver, often as
single parents, of their children.)
4. CSC and the IFC affirm and support the need of both institutional and
community Chaplains working with women to gather on an annual basis.
Aboriginal Offenders
Given Canada’s history, responding to the spiritual needs of Aboriginal offenders, be they First
Nations, Métis, or Inuit, requires a specific focus. It is well documented that there is a
disproportionate number of Aboriginal offenders in corrections and that specific needs exist
within this community. Perhaps less documented, but equally true, is that there are First
Nations, Métis and Inuit churches in almost every Aboriginal community across Canada and
that a significant number of Aboriginal offenders in the CSC self-identify as being Christian.
As the Aboriginal Initiatives Branch oversees all issues related to Aboriginal offenders (e.g.
including the practice of traditional Aboriginal Spirituality), the Chaplaincy Branch will consult
with the Aboriginal Initiatives Branch about meeting the needs of Aboriginal offenders and
inmates seeking the support of the Christian community.
CSC and the IFC are committed to providing culturally appropriate chaplaincy services. This
means working with faith communities wishing to actively engage in this work. We affirm the
need for the following initiatives:
1. Chaplaincy and IFC will seek guidance from the Christian Aboriginal
Community in order to enhance Christian Aboriginal Chaplaincy services.
3. CSC will make appropriate financial resources available for Christian Aboriginal
chaplaincy services.
2. Safe transition to communities by Aboriginal offenders requires culturally
appropriate accommodation. Chaplaincy will provide assistance in developing
the network of Christian Aboriginal community resources and building
community capacity to enhance appropriate re-entry opportunities, including
release opportunities outlined in section 84 of the CCRA.
C. Institutional Chaplaincy Services
1. The provision of institutional chaplaincy services is carried out through the
collaboration of on-site chaplains, visiting representatives from various religious
traditions and volunteers recruited from faith communities. Volunteers play a key role
in creating links between those who are incarcerated and resources in the community.
2. Subject to contract provisions, contract chaplains shall have access to all locations
within the institution and freedom to respond to the needs of staff and inmates at all
3. In institutions for men, CSC reaffirms the policy of providing 1,717.5 hours of
chaplaincy services per year (the equivalent of one institutional chaplain) for every 150
to 200 inmates. The designation of more than 2 institutional chaplains is to be
determined by particular pastoral needs of the institutions.
4. A member of the IFC (or an appointee) will participate in an advisory capacity in the
process of reviewing submissions to identify chaplains when chaplaincy services are
required in specific CSC institutions.
5. In order to affirm the importance of community in the spiritual growth of the offender,
the present policy of providing both Roman Catholic and Protestant chaplaincy services
in each institution is affirmed.
6. The CSC will implement the recommendations on service standards for offenders
belonging to minority religious traditions in accordance with the Report of the Task
Force on Services Standards for Minority Religions (March 2003).
7. The primary point of contact for institutional chaplains will rest with the Assistant
Warden level or above.
8. From time to time the IFC may make a pastoral visitation to an institution to
complement the process of evaluating chaplaincy services.
9. Institutional Chaplaincy Teams have a role in attenuating the isolation that chaplains
experience by ensuring that issues of self-care and wellbeing are addressed in their
annual pastoral plans.
10. In specific situations, after consultation between the CSC and the IFC, some
institutional chaplains may be indeterminate employees of the CSC. The Director
General, Chaplaincy through the Regional Chaplains, will ensure that institutional
chaplains on indeterminate status receive performance reviews and personal appraisals
by line and functional authorities. The chaplains will be invited to share this appraisal
with the leadership of their faith group.
D. Community Chaplaincy Services
Chaplaincy services offered in the community are unique. They emerged out of institutional
chaplaincy in order to enhance a continuity of service, but operate in a very different context
and provide substantively different services compared to institutional chaplaincy. In
conjunction with the mission of Canadian faith communities to serve marginalized Canadians,
it recognizes the inter-relatedness of victims and offenders within society and promotes a vision
of “shalom” (peace and community wholeness) that touches all Canadians..
Faith communities, of which Chaplaincy is part, have pioneered creative restorative justice
initiatives such as Community Chaplaincy, Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA),
Open Circle Visitation program, Man to Man/ Woman to Woman (M2/W2), Victim Offender
Reconciliation Program (VORP), and others. They have reduced and prevented further
victimization, thereby contributing to the Canadian government’s goal of reducing the social
costs of crime and assisting communities to become safer and more just and secure. This in
turn has enhanced the quality of life for all Canadians and strengthened the fabric of the
In order to maintain strong and appropriate community-based alternatives to incarceration the
IFC and CSC affirm the importance of establishing community capacity to support them. This
includes secure funding, adequate human resources and effective intervention strategies. When
these are not available, the perception of community safety is threatened and the demand for
incarceration increases. It is, therefore, essential to ensure the viability of secure and stable
chaplaincy services in the community.
1. Community Chaplaincy
a. Due to the specialized nature of the work with offenders, CSC and faith communities
will partner to provide services to those who are returning to society after a period of
c. Subject to approval and availability, CSC’s contribution to the partnership will
include financial and/or in-kind support through contracts for services. CSC will
provide financial resources for community chaplaincy and COSA at least to the level of
institutional chaplaincy as itemized for women and men offenders in Paragraph V.C.2
and V.E.3, above.
b. In order to assist political and other community leadership CSC and the IFC will
support chaplaincy services in the community such as community chaplaincy and
Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA). The provision of these services will be
structured in an accountable way with an identifiable pastoral animator or chaplain.
Persons chosen to provide chaplaincy services to ex-offenders in the community will
have an interest in meeting the needs of ex-offenders and a concern for community
development and the healing needs of victims.
d. The presence of community chaplains within the institutions constitutes an integral
part of their work and denotes the pastoral identity they share with institutional
chaplains. To the extent possible and with the agreement of the institutional chaplains,
community chaplains promote a continuity of care model by making contact with
offenders in the institutions prior to their release and making information about
community resources available to them.
e. Community chaplains will establish ties with parole officers and halfway houses in
order to encourage referrals of offenders over and above those whom they encounter
prior to release.
2. Circles of Support and Accountability
Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA) enhance the parole service of the CSC,
particularly in the reintegration process, by supporting effective and positive socialization,
reducing dynamic risk factors, and assisting overall in the successful completion of the
correctional plan. The result is safer communities, fewer victims and lower costs of
a. To enhance the continued success of COSA, IFC and CSC affirm the need to
maintain community ownership and community direction of COSA and the need to fund
these community initiatives at an appropriate level.
b. Given the intensive nature of COSA (i.e. high risk and high needs offenders) and that
the primary target group is individuals who are reaching their Warrant Expiry Date,
CSC is committed to the ongoing development of training resources and to conducting
c. Recognizing the developmental nature of COSA, CSC and Chaplaincy are
encouraged to explore and expand the model for other types of releases.
Effective and Completion Dates
This MOU will come into force upon signature and will be reviewed every five years.
Amendments and changes can only be undertaken upon written invitation by either party to
consultation and agreement by both parties.
It may be terminated by either one of the parties by consultation and mutual consent or six
months' written notification to the other party.
Done in three copies at Ottawa, Ontario
day of May
in the English and French languages, each text being equally authentic.
For the Correctional Service of Canada
For the Interfaith Committee on Chaplaincy
Appendix I: List of Member Organizations in the IFC
Active member organizations for 2005-2006
The Anglican Church of Canada
Buddhist Society
Canadian Baptist Ministries
The Canadian Council of Churches
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
The Christian and Missionary Alliance
The Church of the Nazarene, Canada
The Council of the Muslim Community of Canada, Ottawa-Carleton Muslim Association
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada
The Jain Society
The Lutheran Council, Canada
The Mennonite Central Committee, Canada
The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada
The Presbyterian Church in Canada
The Religious Society of Friends
The Salvation Army
The United Church of Canada
The Apostolic Church of Pentecost
The Canadian Jewish Congress
The Christian Reformed Church, Canada
The Federation of Sikh Societies of Canada
The Fellowship of Evangelical Baptists
The Islamic Coordinating Council of Imams
Active in the past (no delegated representative for 2005-2006)
The Seventh Day Adventist Church
The Wesleyan Church
Active non-voting members
4 Chaplain Representatives
The Church Council on Justice and Corrections
Appendix II: List of Related Documents
Preamble and Purpose
Canadian and International Mandate
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Canadian Corrections and Conditional Release Acts
Canadian Corrections and Conditional Release Regulations
Mission of the Correctional Service of Canada
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
United Nations Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners
IFC/CSC Relationship
Constitution and By-Laws of the Interfaith Committee on Chaplaincy
Statement of Principles
List of Member Organizations in the IFC (see Appendix 1, above)
Agreed Policy and Practice
Contract for Services
Creating Choices
Partners in Mission: Information Pertaining to Protestant Chaplaincy
Partners in Mission: Information Pertaining to Roman Catholic Chaplaincy
Statement of Work for Contract Chaplains
Code of Professional Conduct for Contract Chaplains
Handbook on Chaplaincy in the CSC
Treasury Board Contracting Policy
Report of the Task Force on Service Standards for Minority Religions
(March 2003)
Appendix III - Glossary
The terms defined in this glossary are found within the text of the foregoing Memorandum of
Understanding. Many of the terms have very different connotations in the context of the
various faith traditions represented on the Interfaith Committee. Conversely, some of the terms
may not be used within some of these traditions. It would be impossible to find terms that do
not conflict with specific definitions of some faith groups; neither can a separate MOU be
written to contextualize the terms within each tradition.
The following definitions, therefore, do not reflect the viewpoint of any particular religious
tradition. It is understood that each faith group will apply the definitions required by their
polity and practice.
Aboriginal Initiatives Branch
The office within the CSC’s Corrections and Operational Programs Sector mandated to create
partnerships and strategies that enhance the safe and timely reintegration of Aboriginal
offenders into the community.
Accommodation (Religious Accommodation)
Providing access to an adequate level of resources (leadership, opportunities for worship,
educational resources, religious articles, dietary requirements) to allow offenders to practise
their religion or spirituality as fully as they desire (up to a level that is generally available to
people in the community) within the correctional setting.
People who are called by a faith community to offer pastoral care and religious and spiritual
services in a specialized setting. Chaplains work from an inclusive and holistic framework to
facilitate the practice of their own faith as well as religious expressions other than their own.
1. an organization or a model of service provision dedicated to addressing the pastoral care
needs of a group of people in need in a specialized setting;
2. the overall management of religious and spiritual service delivery within CSC.
Chaplaincy Leadership Team
The management (Director General, Associate Director General, Regional Chaplains) and other
staff as determined by management at National and Regional Headquarters who provide
oversight of Chaplaincy services within the CSC
Chaplaincy Branch
The organizational unit at CSC’s National and Regional Headquarters responsible for
implementing the MOU, administering the budget for chaplaincy, developing policy and
resources, and ensuring the delivery of chaplaincy services
Correctional setting
The context of ministry, whether in CSC institutions or in the community, in which people are
dealing with incarceration and reintegration issues
Circles (CoSA)
An intentional initiative which seeks to support offenders returning to the community by
matching them with two or more volunteers who enter into a relationship of covenanting,
meeting, accompaniment and accountability.
CSC Chaplaincy defines a "Circle of Support and Accountability" as a group of 4-7 primarily
faith-based community volunteers, who are committed to enhancing public safety by supporting
community re-entry through: covenanting, meeting and walking daily in friendship with a
person who has been detained to the end of his sentence because of a sexual offence history.
Circles of Support, Circles of Care, Support Circles, Family Support Circles and Circle
Sentencing projects describe various other modes of working with different groups of
individuals, each of which fulfills an important need.
Community Chaplain
A person who fulfils the role of chaplain in a community setting, generally across
denominational and religious lines, to assist ex-prisoners to integrate into the faith community
of their choice and to deal with related spiritual, emotional and social reintegration issues.
The faith community that holds a contract with the CSC to provide chaplaincy services in the
institutional and/or community setting.
Faith Community(ies)
A faith community is group of people who identify themselves as sharing a common faith.
Usually a faith community is a local manifestation of a religion. For example, in Christianity,
the Anglican Communion, the Roman Catholic Church, the United Church would be "faith
Holistic Approach
A model of care that addresses spiritual issues within the context of promoting a person’s
emotional, physical and mental wellbeing. This approach can be taken irrespective of the
person’s faith tradition and seeks to strengthen the person within their chosen faith tradition.
Indeterminate employees
Persons hired to a permanent position by the government through a Public Service Commission
competition process
Institutional Chaplains
Fulfil the role of chaplain (offering pastoral care and religious and spiritual services) within
CSC institutions with responsibility to support minority faith groups and to ensure that freedom
of religion and mutual respect are practised by all.
Interfaith Chaplaincy
Caring response to the needs of people regardless of their religious beliefs and in collaboration
with leaders of diverse faith expressions
The document issued by the faith group to which the chaplain belongs that authorizes the
chaplain to provide chaplaincy services on behalf of the organization.
“Minority” Religious Traditions
The term 'minority religion' or 'minority tradition' refers to a recognised religious and/or
spiritual tradition with which a minority number of inmates is affiliated. The term in no way
suggests that these traditions or the people affiliated with them (in the institution or the
community) have reduced status or lesser importance within CSC's mandate to accommodate
religious needs and rights.
Multilevel Institutions
CSC institutions that house groups of offenders classified at more than one security level and/or
providing specialized services (such as psychiatric treatment or health services)
Information (sessions) offered by the CSC to familiarize staff and contract service providers
about the correctional setting
The person who gathers and guides a community of people who share the same faith, usually
offering pastoral care, religious education and leadership in worship (Originally from the
Christian tradition, 'Pastor' is used in some churches as a title to designate the ordained
Pastoral Care
A response to people in need which aims to bring greater meaning and wholeness to individuals
and communities
Prophet / prophetic
A person who speaks the truth in difficult situations, holding people who exercise power over
others accountable and challenging society to a higher standard of justice
Religious Authority
The organization (or person representing the organization) who presents chaplains to fulfil the
terms of a contract for chaplaincy services; the organization to which the chaplain belongs and
is answerable to in terms of faith and practice.
The spiritual beliefs, teaching and practice shared by a group of people
Restorative Justice
Restorative justice is a non-adversarial, non-retributive approach to justice that emphasizes
healing in victims, meaningful accountability of offenders, and the involvement of citizens in
creating healthier, safer communities. Crime is a violation of people and relationships.
Restorative justice works to repair the damage and promote healing and growth caused by
crime by providing tools to find more peaceful and collaborative ways of resolving conflicts in
our society. It strives to offer support and opportunities for voluntary participation and
communication between those affected - victims, offenders, and community - to encourage
accountability, reparation, and movement towards understanding, feelings of satisfaction,
healing and closure.
Shalom comes from the Hebrew verb Shalom meaning to be complete, perfect and full. When
used as a noun in the bible, it can convey any of the following meanings: completeness,
wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness,
fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord.
That which pertains to or derives from the human spirit
Statement of Work
Description of the work to be accomplished by the person fulfilling the contract for services
Courses or programs designed to impart knowledge and/or skills required to fulfil a Statement
of Work
People from the community who give of their time and talent to provide support to chaplains,
offenders, staff and their respective families in the fulfilment of Chaplaincy’s mandate.
Appendix IV – ACRONYMS
CCRA The Corrections and Conditional Release Act - The legislation governing the CSC.
CCRR The Corrections and Conditional Release Regulations - The legislated guidelines for
carrying out the CCRA
COSA Circles of Support and Accountability (see Glossary for definition)
CLT Chaplaincy Leadership Team (see Glossary for definition)
The Correctional Service of Canada
The Interfaith Committee on Chaplaincy in the Correctional Service of Canada
MOU The Memorandum of Understanding
The United Nations
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