Data collection and information reporting

Reported incidents

The Independent Review Team analyzed ministry data and found that the largest number of reported inmate-on-staff incidents across all provincial institutions in 2017 was attributable to threats, followed by attempted assaults and physical assaults.footnote 14 The Case Study: Toronto South Detention Centre allowed for the distribution of incidents at Toronto South Detention Centre (TSDC) to be compared against the rest of the province. It was evident that TSDC reported a smaller proportion of threats compared to the rest of the province, but a larger proportion of throwing-related incidents (i.e., throwing items, liquid, or bodily substances) (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Reported inmate-on-staff incidents by type, 2017 at TSDC and rest of provincial institutions

This image displays the breakdown of reported inmate-on-staff incidents of violence in 2017 by type for Toronto South Detention Centre (TSDC) and the remaining (24) provincial institutions. The breakdown (number of incidents; %) for TSDC is: threat (66; 26.2%); attempt assault (50; 19.8%); spit or attempt spit (21; 8.3%); throw item/liquid (41; 16.3%); throw bodily fluid/substance (22; 8.7%); and physical assault (52; 20.6%). The breakdown for the rest of the provincial institutions is: threats (455; 40.6%); attempt assault (219; 19.5%); spit or attempt spit (98; 8.7%); throw item/liquid (110; 9.8%); throw bodily fluid/substance (29; 2.6%); physical assault (211; 18.8%).

It is clear that a province-wide analysis of incidents of inmate-on-staff violence is ineffective at identifying the specific issue(s) experienced by a particular institution. Local analyses are necessary to understand the type, frequency, and severity of incidents that occur at specific institutions in order to tailor a localized operational response that mitigates the risk of future incidents.

Reporting process

The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services’ (MCSCS) current policy mandates that incidents of workplace violence must be reported by the employee to a manager or supervisor either verbally or in writing.footnote 15 Correctional employees report incidents of threats and assaults (including attempted assaults) that occur in institutions using a ministry-specific process (Figure 3). Any involved correctional employee(s) will complete an Occurrence Report (OR), which is reviewed by the direct manager of the employee, but is kept locally at the institution. It is the Inmate Incident Report (IIR) – which contains a consolidated explanation and is completed by the sergeant or manager involved in, or who attends, an incident – that is forwarded to the respective regional office and the Information Management Unit (IMU) where it is eventually used for ministry tracking.footnote 16

Figure 3. MCSCS incident reporting paperwork process

This figure displays the paperwork process for reporting an incident within MCSCS. First, a correctional employee completes an Occurrence Report following an event. A sergeant or manager then determines whether or not to complete an Inmate Incident Report with key information from the Occurrence Report summarized. This newly created Inmate Incident Report is forwarded to the Regional Office and the Information Management Unit. The Information Management Unit will record inmate-on-staff incidents on a separate provincial tracking sheet.

The Independent Review Team previously reported that the IMU database that records inmate- on-staff incidents is outdated and that this precluded efforts to conduct any high-level analyses.footnote 17 Ministry data collection practices as they relate to incident tracking and, more broadly, institutional violence must be restructured to assist with policy developments and revisions. The Institutional Violence in Ontario: Interim Report highlighted the MCSCS Modernization Division’s ongoing efforts to streamline data collection through digitizing IIRs. At the time of writing the present report, the digital reporting platform was undergoing select user testing that will include seven facilities as well as all four regional offices and the IMU. Testing of a first iteration of the platform is planned for four institutions in late-January 2019.

Implementation of a more robust, efficient, and digital infrastructure for data relating to institutional violence is essential to identify any patterns that can inform quality decision- making and policy changes that impact institutional operations and standing orders. In addition, the TSDC Case Study identified many instances of locally tracked inmate-on-staff occurrences that were not reported to the IMU by sergeants on IIRs, and thus were never considered for inclusion in the ministry’s list of inmate-on-staff incidents. It is unknown whether this issue is unique to TSDC or if similar patterns would emerge at other provincial institutions. It is necessary to ensure that sergeants and other managers are adequately trained in completing the IIRs in this new digital platform. Furthermore, it is essential that the ministry standardize the process for selecting when ORs can simply be filed for local records retention purposes, and when, and how, ORs become IIRs that are forwarded to the regional offices and IMU.

The TSDC Case Study also revealed that there is no consistency in terms of how correctional employees involved in incidents are identified on IIRs. Current, there is no ministry policy that identifies a requirement for involved correctional staff beyond direct victims of reported assaults to be named on IIRs;footnote 18 ORs will capture this information as each involved correctional employee is required to complete and sign an OR. However, as IIRs are utilized as the main incident-related document for ministry tracking, it would be advisable that information pertaining to all involved staff is provided on the IIR. At present, the method to identify how frequently correctional employees are involved in incidents is paper-based and cumbersome. Once the Modernization Division’s digital platform is fully functional, it should be possible to conduct analysis on a variety of data variables, such as whether/when certain staff members are repeatedly involved in inmate-on-staff incidents at institutions. This is desirable and would result in greater transparency and accountability and could also be informative for management at the institution. For example, if a certain correctional employee is frequently involved in inmate-on-staff incidents, that may be indicative of improper behaviour that is escalating a situation with an inmate (with implications for more training, or temporary changes to work posts), or that a particular employee is more often exposed to volatile inmates or units that have a higher risk for inmate-on-staff violence. In such cases this may help identify correctional employees that would benefit from additional work or psychological supports to cope with the heightened exposure to violence.

In addition to IIRs, the Independent Review Team identified data entry errors and/or inconsistencies regarding misconduct dispositions in the Interim Report and further investigated these concerns.footnote 19 Though misconducts increased over time in the province’s institutions, so did the number of misconducts for which no disposition information was available in the Offender Tracking Information System (OTIS). The TSDC Case Study allowed for an in-depth review of the 89 violent misconducts that occurred at the institution in 2017 and for which there was missing disposition information. The search revealed that, in the majority of cases, paperwork related to the misconduct either could not be located or, when located, forms were incomplete and missing disposition information. This could signal poor filing and record-keeping practices at TSDC, a miscommunication between the correctional employee proceeding formally with a misconduct and the correctional employee entering information into OTIS, or both. Any database system in place for record-keeping must be reliably operated by correctional employees to be useful in trend analysis, investigations of staff concerns, and operational management.

Information sharing

The Interim Report underscored the current lack of communication between the ministry’s corporate offices and institutions due to the aforementioned absence of trend analyses regarding reported incidents of violence at corporate and institutional levels.footnote 20 Despite the notable effort of IMU staff to generate provincial tracking reports for corporate offices in MCSCS, it was unclear what, if any, analysis was being conducted of the data beyond a simple review of the numbers. Further, reporting and sharing of information to management or local union representatives at institutions appeared discretionary and inconsistent. This contributes to a disconnection with institutional frontline staff and fuels animosity toward management and corporate leadership.

Presently, OTIS is available as a ministry-wide database holding pertinent information regarding any individual who has ever been supervised by MCSCS in the community or in one of Ontario’s provincial institutions. As previously noted, OTIS can only be an effective tool for information sharing if the information entered is reliable. Incomplete and/or unverified information (e.g., missing disposition information; active alertsfootnote 21 that are subjectively applied by correctional employees) compromise the information sharing function of this tool within MCSCS.

The digital inmate incident reporting platform under development by the Modernization Division should allow for data to be extracted and analyzed on a number of variables, including allowing for institution-specific analysis. This would be a useful tool for institutions and would foster better understanding of incident-related trends at local sites, at comparable institutions (e.g., similar size or inmate demographics), and across the province.

Data collection and information reporting recommendations:

Institutional culture and staffing

Correctional work environment

Characteristics of modern correctional practice include comprehensive correctional care interventions, validated security classification, and evidence-based risk management. Within this environment, correctional officers find themselves working at the intersection of care and custody, negotiating the tensions between rehabilitation and security as well as assuming the role of ‘peacekeeper’footnote 22 during everyday interactions between inmates, colleagues, and management. Jails and prisons can be volatile environments with a potential for violence. This contributes to an atmosphere of vigilance, diminished trust, anxiety, and stress. These pressures are felt by both the keepers and the kept and these realities make correctional work unique. Studies consistently confirm the importance of staff quality of life in the work environment and the prison quality of life as experienced by inmates.footnote 23 This research indicates that when the staff quality of life is positive, correctional officers exhibit working attitudes that emphasize a rehabilitative vision of corrections – rather than punitive or discipline-oriented ones – a contributing factor to successful reintegration.footnote 24 In other words, efforts to reform correctional work environments should begin by emphasising the cascading effect of improving staff quality of life and the proven impact it can have on inmate rehabilitation and, ultimately, public safety.footnote 25

We need to understand and recognize what didn't work and what is not working today in order to move forward. Not only do staff need to be safe, they need to work smart and sometimes common-sense goes a long way. We need leaders who are experienced and know the business. If not they will not be respected by the Inmates or the front line staff. I will reiterate not only do the staff need to feel safe the inmates need to feel safe as well. You can't make positive change when inmates are in fear of the predatory element among its population.

Senior Administrator, Eastern Region

While it is the case that some inmates can be violent – and should be classified and housed as such – it is ultimately difficult to perfectly predict instances of violence in correctional settings. Research on strategies for reducing institutional violence refute claims that it is dependent on the degree of dangerousness of inmate populations, rather, it is a “direct product of prison conditions and how [government authorities] operate [their] prisons.”footnote 26 The conditions of confinement directly impact correctional operations and work environmentsfootnote 27 including: staff morale,footnote 28 institutional security,footnote 29 recidivism,footnote 30 and community safety.footnote 31 Empirical literature continuously demonstrates that humane conditions of confinement ease both inmate and staff experiences of correctional environments and institutional misconducts including violence.footnote 32 Moreover, much of the “institutional climate” that influences conditions of confinement in correctional facilities is shaped by the philosophies, behaviours, and practices of correctional employees.footnote 33 This point is significant as it is a theme that emerged in the Independent Review of Ontario Corrections’ previous three reports as well as in contemporary research on best practices in corrections: conditions of confinement directly impact institutional and community safety.

We are dealing with people and should not be warehousing them. […] Many individuals should not even be incarcerated. There should be more assisted living/social intervention prior to even coming into custody.

Sergeant, South West Detention Centre

The Independent Review Team’s findings on institutional violence flow directly from engagement with frontline staff, managers, and senior administrators, who provided a candid glimpse into correctional work culture. Much of the feedback from correctional employees revealed deeply held concerns by frontline staff regarding their working environments, relationships with management, training, professional development, and mentorship opportunities for new staff. Feedback provided to the Independent Review Team identified occupational stress associated with employee safety concerns as well as the lack of recognition by management as having a negative impact on correctional officers’ perception of their jobs and further widening discontent with upper management.

Working with managers who are incompetent and make poor decisions with disregard for staff safety makes for a stressful work environment.

Correctional Officer, Maplehurst Correctional Complex

Daily worries about job safety, dangerousness, and fear has been shown to contribute to an increase in occupational stress and “negative job satisfaction” for correctional officers.footnote 39 Research has demonstrated that working on the frontline of corrections requires both an elevated physical stamina as well as an increased mental alertness to respond to inconsistent demands of managing and caring for inmates who may be unpredictably disruptive, resistant to orders, and, occasionally violent.footnote 40 The evidence on occupational stress and the prevalence of mental health disorders among correctional officers suggests that they are at a heightened risk of stress-related burnout and other symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).footnote 41 As indicated in the Interim Report, the Independent Review Team received numerous written statements from correctional officers across the province expressing concerns with occupational safety and mental health. This concern with safety was reiterated in the IROC Institutional Violence Survey. As one sergeant stated:

I am happy that I am coming to an end of my career with 20 shifts left to work before retirement. I will miss my life long [sic] career but will be pleased to be free of the day-to-day stress that it brings […] My suggestion to you going into the future is help with the day to day stress. […] just responding [to a code] is a "stressor" for many staff.

Concerns regarding safety varied considerably by position. Of correctional officer respondents, 53%footnote 42 expressed that they did not feel safe working in their institution. In contrast, 66%footnote 43 of respondents in all other positions (i.e., excluding those who identified as correctional officers) reported that they did feel safe working in their current institution.

Respondents were also asked if and how often they worried about being assaulted by an inmate (see Appendix B, Tables B-2 and B-3). Of correctional officers, 44% reported that they worried about being assaulted once a day and an additional 22% worried at least once a week.

Crisis in Corrections is an orchestrated tempest in a teapot. Hopefully this fools no one.

Sergeant, Northern Region

Only 13% of correctional officer respondents indicated that they never worried about being assaulted by an inmate. In contrast, only 27% of respondents in all other employment positions indicated that they worried about being assaulted by an inmate at least once a week, and nearly half (44%) of those respondents indicated that they never worried about being assaulted. This variation in responses among different positions is of particular interest considering that many of the employees who are not correctional officers, such as sergeants and programs and health care staff, also have frequent direct contact with inmates.

Relationships with managers

Research on correctional staff culture in Canadian jurisdictions has documented a significant concern with staff-management relationships,footnote 49 and this theme emerged in the IROC Institutional Violence Survey. Of correctional officer respondents, 38% indicated that they did not feel supported by frontline sergeants in their institution, and 41% did not feel supported by their direct manager (see Appendix B, Table B-1). Notably, 67% disclosed that they did not feel supported by senior administrators.

I have only been employed a little over 2 years. I already have a strong distrust of management. I felt this distrust when I had one year in. I feel management doesn't work with frontline staff, with hold [sic] information, and try and get new staff to do things they shouldn't but they don't know any better.

Correctional Officer, Maplehurst Correctional Complex

In written responses, many correctional officers directly or indirectly referred to a disconnection between management and frontline staff. For instance, one correctional officer commented, “staff morale is at an all-time low […] We need upper management that cares about the staff, actually takes the time to talk to the staff, even introducing themselves!!” One sergeant echoed this sentiment, “due to the lack of support from senior management as well as the lack of transparency, equality, and fairness the staff moral [sic] is low. In this institution[,] opportunities are given to people who are in cliques and not because they know the job or are familiar with the area.”

Any ministry efforts to mitigate institutional violence must consider how the frontline staff- management relationship functions in correctional facilities in Ontario. As noted in the Interim Report, the lines of communication – whether formally through the chain of command or informally between staff – must be strengthened in order to establish clear directives, expectations, and accountability. In the IROC Institutional Violence Survey, though 58% of correctional officer respondents felt that there was good communication among colleagues, only 13% felt that there was good communication between staff and management at their institution (see Appendix B, Table B-1). Strong standards of communication signal a commitment to transparency in decision making, policy changes, and implementation efforts. Further, moral competency has been shown to be a key requirement of senior administrators and management in organizations that emphasize “strong moral identity” in employee directives and policies.footnote 50 Again, the ministry must consider the way in which organizational accountability and moral competency cascades through operational policy, standing orders, and the working relationship among frontline staff, managers, and senior administrators, and how overall correctional officer wellness influences daily interactions with inmates.footnote 51

Perspectives and attitudes toward correctional work

A common theme that emerged from correctional officers’ responses to the IROC Institutional Violence Survey was a general punitive and discipline-oriented philosophy. Written responses to the survey often highlighted ongoing grievances about violent inmates in correctional institutions across Ontario and depicted them as unpredictable, insubordinate, and dangerous. Correctional officers identified recent ministry efforts to reform segregation and use of force policies and increasingly violent inmate populations as contributing to the rise of reported incidents of violence. To gain a sense of correctional officers’ perspectives and attitudes towards their role and correctional work broadly, the IROC Institutional Violence Survey prompted respondents with questions examining their interactions with inmates, the purpose of corrections, and perspectives on power (Table 2).

Our ability to physically discipline Inmates has been taken away […] Murderers, Rapists, Pedophiles, Child Pornographers, ISIS Terrorists, Blood and Crip Gang Bangers [don’t] deserve more human rights than the general public and the Correctional staff that watch over them.

Correctional Officer, Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre
Table 2. IROC Institutional Violence Survey – responses from correctional officers and sergeants (including staff sergeants)
StatementAgree or strongly agreeNeither agree nor disagreeDisagree or strongly disagreeNo answerNot applicableTotal responses to question
I have a good relationship with individuals in custody in my current institution.499
The purpose of incarceration is rehabilitation and eventual reintegration.496
Friendly relationships with individuals in custody undermine staff authority.248
Individuals in custody should be under strict discipline.670
I try to build trust with individuals in custody.689
Individuals in custody take advantage of you if you are lenient.730
Individuals in custody have too much power in my current institution.773
Staff have too much power in my current institution.23
I believe that most individuals in custody in my current institution should be in custody.644
It is important to take an interest in individuals in custody and their problems.415

Written feedback provided further evidence of strong ‘Us vs. Them’ attitudes. For example, one correctional officer noted:

Our "clients" don't seem to mind jail. As a new [correctional officer], I see inmates don't mind spending time here with all of the benefits of jail, better meals than I eat, television, healthcare, yard, supplies, and assaulting a peace officer resulting in no additional jail time - why do they eat delicious meals when the person they killed is dead.

As noted, relationships between correctional staff and inmates can be positively influenced by individualized correctional work environments. Of correctional officers and sergeants (including staff sergeants) surveyed across the ministry, over half (55%) indicated that they had a good relationship with individuals in custody. Moreover, 76% reported that they tried to build trust with individuals in custody throughout their work.

The largest proportion of correctional officer and sergeant (including staff sergeant) respondents (40%) felt that friendly relationships with inmates did not undermine staff authority, though the majority supported the notion that inmates should be under strict discipline (74%) and that inmates “would take advantage of you if you are lenient” (81%). These responses further suggest that while correctional officers and sergeants might perceive that relations can be friendly, friendly relationships are considered as only possible under compliance and discipline regimes.

I was seconded [… to a] maximum security environment [where] I applied the interaction techniques I used at OCI. I also [wore] a name-tag. I found that the offenders responded very well to my positive and respectful attitude and were significantly more open once they saw my name-tag… The Officers I was working with thought I was hilariously kind to offenders… Direct supervision works. But you can’t get jail guards to buy into it.

Correctional Officer, Ontario Correctional Institute

Overall, punitive views prevailed across institutional employees in regard to correctional work. With respect to discipline, 67%footnote 52 of respondents felt that inmates should be under strict discipline, and when controlled for correctional officer respondents, this number increased to 76%.footnote 53 Favourable views regarding the use and conditions of restrictive confinement emerged in feedback from several correctional employees, including one officer who suggested, “placing an inmate in segregation with all of their belongings hardly seems like a punishment.” Another frontline officer indicated:

The inmates know that they can assault staff, threaten staff, intimidate staff with no punishment and it is getting worse by the day. The elimination of segregation punitive reasons has been the worst decision made. If your child spit on you would you not take away there [sic] privileges and put them in time out, if they hit another family member would the same thing not happen.

Similar sentiments were previously expressed by staff in the Interim Report, reflective of the lack of coherent and coordinated ministry direction to operationalize the MCSCS 2016 directive on segregation reform.footnote 54 The elimination of “loss of all privileges” (LOAP) in close confinement was misinterpreted by some staff to mean that inmates in disciplinary segregation must have access to all privileges, and neglected the intention of the initiative to withhold privileges on an individualized, case-by-case basis.

The punitive views and disciplinary philosophy were also reflected in the responses that correctional employees – and in particular, correctional officers – provided to the IROC Institutional Violence Survey regarding which measures would most increase staff safety at their institution (Appendix B, Table B-5). For instance, the most commonly selected measures from a list of options were: mandatory minimum sentences for assaults on staff (72%footnote 55); more disciplinary sanctions (53%footnote 56); higher staff to inmate ratio (43%footnote 57); more experienced staff (35%footnote 58); and additional staff training (35%footnote 59). When controlled for correctional officers, mandatory minimum sentences were selected by 81%footnote 60 of respondents, and the remaining top choices shifted towards more punitive measures: disciplinary sanctions (59%footnote 61); higher staff to inmate ratio (48%footnote 62); more restrictive confinement (40%footnote 63); and tasers (31%footnote 64). The overwhelming support by respondents for mandatory minimum sentences is concerning, given that empirical evidencefootnote 65 consistently undermines their effectiveness and utility to deter crime and violence.

Similarly, a number of correctional staff voiced frustration with the apparent lack of criminal repercussions for inmate-on-staff incidents. For example, one officer noted, “MANY times [incidents] are dealt with in house and the police are not contacted and charges not laid. When they are the charges are thrown out or the sentence is served concurrently so there is zero reprocussions [sic] for assaulting a staff member.” Similarly, a sergeant expressed discontent, noting that:

Penalties and sanctions are way to [sic] lenient. If an individual walked up to a police officer, or for that matter [any] member of the general public and assaulted them that person would receive serious charges. Why when it happens behind facility walls does is it feel like it is more accepted? Police, Crown attorneys and the judiciary seem to feel like it’s part of our job.

Discussions with police services revealed that corrections and police procedures are, at times, in conflict. For example, police indicated that:

When correctional staff respond quickly to a disruptive inmate, they may clear the scene without preserving the integrity of evidence, which hinders police investigations. Consequently, the evidentiary requirements necessary to pursue a criminal charge may not be satisfied. This may contribute to correctional staff’s dissatisfaction with the police response and criminal sanctions following an inmate-on-staff incident.footnote 66

In consultation with the Independent Advisor, some police expressed favourable attitudes towards implementing dedicated police units responsible for investigating incidents at correctional facilities. These specialized officers would become familiar with correctional settings and develop working relationships with correctional staff. Similarly, correctional employees would have an identified police resource to enhance their understanding of criminal procedure and evidentiary requirements.

A strong belief in discipline was explicitly evident in responses to the IROC Institutional Violence Survey pertaining to use of force. Numerous correctional officers expressed a reliance on use of force as a disciplinary measure. Over one-quarter (26%footnote 67) of survey respondents advised that staff use of force was one key mechanism that contributed most to safety at the institution, although only 17%footnote 68 selected that more use of force was a main element that would enhance safety (see Appendix B, Tables B-4 and B-5). One way in which correctional officers indicated that use of force contributed to safety was by enabling staff to “protect themselves” and others. For instance, a new recruit with less than a year of experience asserted:

As for USE OF FORCES, it is a jail. USE OF FORCES occur for a reason whether it is to stop individuals from causing excessive harm to another or defending an employee from assault. There should not be a ‘bad look’ towards use of forces as they are what keep our institutions in order when it is needed.

The revised Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners – the Mandela Rules – adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, restricts use of force on inmates to cases of self-defence, attempted escape, and active or passive resistance, though force must be “no more than is strictly necessary”.footnote 69 One example of alignment with the Mandela Rules is seen in the mandate and expectations by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons for England and Wales: “Force is only used against prisoners as a last resort and never as a punishment.”footnote 70

MCSCS policy also prohibits use of force as punishment, stating that “Force is not intended to be, and must never be used as a means of punishment”footnote 71, though it also allows for use of force when “required in order to enforce discipline and maintain order within the institution.”footnote 72 The distinction between ‘discipline’ and ‘punishment’ is unclear, and the lack of additional guidance and definitions in ministry policy risks conflating the two terms, which could result in staff misinterpreting when use of force is appropriate. Ambiguity in ministry policy is problematic as it could lead to an interpretation that is inconsistent with international minimum standards of inmate treatment, and potentially positions use of force as a punitive measure to manage inmate behaviour. For example, one officer stated:

Many inmates understand only one thing - force. Unfortunate as it is - it is a fact. Placating inmates with food and other items for simple things such as leaving a cell, only empowers them to continue the behaviour. It is a simple fact that sometimes minor force must be used. Making staff write reports and forbidding them to handle a misbehaving inmate only makes the staff and the whole system impotent. If the inmates see that there are consequences to misbehaviour then maybe they will learn and not have to come back. But then that is why they are there in the first place.

Some of the responses that the Independent Review Team received from frontline staff expressed concern with the ministry’s investigation and review processes following use of force incidents. For instance, one officer asserted, “[w]e have good officers wanting to give up, not showing up for work, because Ontario corrections have people undermining them… or judging a [person’s] use of force incident without ever being in a use of force” while another affirmed, “officers are now to the point where they hesitate to use force on [an] inmate when it is justified because they fear suspension”. Despite claims that correctional officers were reluctant to use force, and in spite of a declining provincial inmate population, the Independent Review Team found that reported use of force incidents actually increased from 1,249 incidents in 2013 to 2,490 in 2017.footnote 73

The TSDC Case Study supported these findings as reported use of force incidents at the institution increased between 2014 and 2017.footnote 74 Interestingly, the TSDC Case Study revealed that 27 incidents (approximately 11% of all reported incidents) involved a use of force by a correctional employee before the reported inmate-on-staff violence occurred. In these instances it is worth considering that the physical interaction initiated by the correctional officer actually may have escalated the situation to a point of violence, which arguably therefore could have been avoided by employing verbal de-escalation or defusion skills.

The Independent Review Team further found that there is a lack of research evaluating the effectiveness of use of force models in correctional settings within Ontario and in other provinces and countries. Both the effectiveness of the use of force training and the current MCSCS Correctional Services’ Use of Force Model in Ontario must be reviewed against evidence-based best correctional practices. The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) has recently adopted an Engagement and Intervention model to replace their previous use of force model. Though the effectiveness of this new model has not been evaluated, the Office of the Correctional Investigator recognized it as “an important change in officer conduct and, just as importantly, a major shift in culture within CSC”.footnote 75

Training and hiring correctional staff

The ministry acknowledged that the current Correctional Officer Training and Assessment (COTA) program was outdated and in need of revision,footnote 76 however, the prioritization of new correctional officer recruitment resulted in efforts being focused on hiring instead of the necessary curriculum redevelopment.

I feel it would be very useful to frontline staff to receive (any) training on de- escalation techniques. I don’t believe humans are born with the skill level required to defuse the high tension levels that we reach in the jail setting. By the time the crisis negotiator (the only one with any training in this) arrives the situation has already gotten out of hand. Telling us to “use your de-escalation techniques” is not training.

Correctional Officer, Central North Correctional Centre

During preparation of the Interim Report, the Independent Review Team consulted with the Ontario Correctional Services College (OCSC) regarding the current curriculum taught to new recruits in an effort to understand where effort is being concentrated in regard to training and shaping new cohorts of correctional officers. The Independent Review Team was provided with course outlines and student manuals and found that, of the 12 hours dedicated to defensive tactic training, only 90 minutes are dedicated to defusion of hostility whereas 4.5 hours are dedicated to the use of restraints, aerosol weapons, and expandable batons.footnote 77 The Independent Review Team requested further information from the ministry on current or future initiatives on defensive tactic training (including details on defusion of hostility techniques, de-escalation, and communication). The ministry indicated that efforts are underway for a broad curriculum redesign, however, no specifics were provided.

If staff could be trained in communication skills more. Staff get 40 hours of use of force training every two years but no communication skills training. Most situations can be diffused [sic] by communication but no training in that field.

Senior Administrator, Northern Region

In response to requests from the Independent Review Team, the ministry’s Modernization Division advised that developments are underway to design a “work integrated learning” model that combines theoretical learning with on-the-job learning components to meet the current needs of correctional officers. The COTA redesign is also to include a mental health component, but little information is available on whether this would include a very necessary component on self-care. At the time of this report, no changes to the COTA curriculum have been implemented. Appropriate communications training, both formally through COTAand informally through local mentorship and job shadowing, has direct implications on operational outcomes including interactions with inmates. The ability to defuse a situation before using physical force is crucial to mitigating institutional violence. In updating the course curriculum, it is crucial to ensure that COTA graduates receive sufficient training in human rights, correctional law, and self-care and resiliency for dealing with workplace stress. Training must be applicable to the day-to-day situations that correctional officers face in their work environments when dealing with inmates.

I feel that the correctional officer training curriculum needs an overhaul to change the way that officers view and treat inmates, particularly those with mental illnesses, which makes up the vast majority of our inmate population.

Senior Administrator, Northern Region

Overwhelmingly, senior administrators told the IROC Institutional Violence Survey that correctional officers lack sufficient training in the areas of conflict de-escalation and communication. One senior administrator from Central Region noted, “[w]e need to hire staff that have the capacity and demonstrated ability to be effective communicators and are [able] to deal and work with conflict.” Another senior administrator offered:

The lack of experience for the new staff being hired and the sheer numbers of new staff leaving gaps in experienced officers working with inmates, and the inability for the ministry to recruit and retain skilled competent managers has lead [sic] to a crisis in succession planning. Ontario has fallen behind in the compensation area and the disparity in the pay scale has driven skilled competent officers away from promotion when they can make more money in their current roles. Their [sic] is a crisis in retaining managers in the workplace creating gaps in supervision and management of officer performance and mentorship.

Between 2009 and 2013, there was a moratorium on all correctional officer recruitment. This impacted operations in all of Ontario’s correctional facilities, resulting in staff shortages and deterioration in the conditions of confinement including more time restricted to cell, reduced programming and recreation and an increased number of institutional lockdowns. Once the moratorium was lifted, in 2016, the ministry announced a commitment to hire 2,000 correctional officers over the next three years.footnote 78 Figure 4 displays the recent influx in new hires in Ontario’s correctional institutions; notably, nearly 40% of all new hires in 2017 were assigned to TSDC.

All the new hires in such a short span of time makes for an extremely dangerous workplace due to all the inexperience[d officers] working units with dangerous offenders.

Correctional Officer, Maplehurst Correctional Complex

Figure 4. MCSCS new hires in select Ontario correctional facilities, 2014-2017

This figure displays new hires at Ontario institutions between 2014 and 2017. There were 774 new hires in 2016 and 896 in 2017. Of the 2017 new hires, 355 were at Toronto South Detention Centre. Note: New hires includes correctional officers recently graduated from the Correctional Officer Training and Assessment (COTA) program, re-hires (former officers who left their positions), and those who transferred from youth corrections following 'conversion training'.

Note: new hires includes correctional officers recently graduated from the Correctional Officer Training Assessment (COTA) program, re-hires (former officers who left their positions), and those who transferred form youth corrections following "conversion training".

I am disappointed with the way I was hired and trained. I started when Direct Supervision was a year old and had a slide show and small section of my training binder. I did not see the inside of South West Detention Centre until I arrived on unit for my 2 x 60 hour work weeks of training and my 4 hour orientation my first day. My training binder is still not complete and [it has] been 3 years.

Correctional Officer, South West Detention Centre

Over two-thirds (70%) of all correctional employees who responded to the IROC Institutional Violence Survey selected “experienced staff”, and 43% selected “staff training”, as key elements that contribute to staff safety in their institution.footnote 80 However, nearly half (48%) of correctional officer respondents indicated that they did not feel prepared to start working following graduation from the OCSC. Similarly, most correctional officer respondents did not feel prepared to start working immediately after being hired (52%), and were not satisfied with the local training provided at their institution (55%) (see Appendix B, Table B-6). In addition, over half (58%) of correctional officers were not satisfied with the mentorship or job shadowing opportunities at their institution, and 61% were not satisfied with local professional development opportunities. The TSDC Case Study provided further insight into correctional employees’ concerns regarding the lack of localized training, mentorship, and job shadowing opportunities. Although some local initiatives exist, they appear to be largely volunteer-based and dependent on the availability and willingnes

These days staff are being hired by the dozens, unfortunately are not getting the one-on-one assistance from the more experienced staff. Therefore, the new staff are training the newer staff, so much is lost in why we do things a certain way. New staff are fearful because they haven’t learned how to build a respectful relationship with clients. Mentorship is important, and communication is essential.

To provide support to both institutional managers and frontline officers, the introduction of a correctional officer position in a senior or supervisory role could offer skilled and motivated staff with developmental incentives and meet the current need for peer mentorship. At present, the ministry utilizes two correctional officer classifications: Correctional Officer 1 and Correctional Officer 2. All new correctional officer hires begin their employment with the ministry as Correctional Officer 1 and “based on accumulated hours and satisfactory job performance they can eventually progress to Correctional Officer 2 classification.”footnote 81 Progression between the correctional officer classifications is currently seniority-based, and not on demonstrated skills, merit, and training certification. The creation of a supervisory correctional officer position could provide a new opportunity for experienced staff members with relevant education and skills to pass along their knowledge, model desired behavior and participate in meaningful personal and professional development. This initiative could also contribute to enhancing Ontario Corrections’ response to meeting the rehabilitative needs and specialized care of the most challenging inmates.

Staff are not trained appropriately or supported to deal with mental health inmates. There should be special hand-selected/hired staff to handle mental health inmates as they do not fit the role of traditional Correctional Officer and did not necessarily sign up for that role or understand how to deal with it. There also needs to be a way to effectively weed out correctional officers that are problematic working with inmates.

Sergeant, South West Detention Centre

Institutional culture and staffing recommendations:

Operational practices

For the majority of men and women in custody in Ontario’s correctional institutions, an act of violence is not listed as their most serious offence (MSO) in the Offender Tracking Information System (OTIS).footnote 82 Between 2010 and 2017, the number of individuals in custody for violent offences in Ontario’s correctional facilities has remained stable, yet, due to the overall declining inmate population, the proportion of inmates in custody for violent offences increased slightly (39% in 2010 to 42% in 2017).footnote 83 Moreover, while violent misconducts increased during 2010 – 2017, there was no relationship found between being in custody for a violent charge and actual involvement in violent misconduct.footnote 84

In the Toronto South Detention Centre (TSDC) Case Study, it was found that the inmate population during 2017 was mostly young (40% under age 30 and 71% under age 40), held on remand (83%), and half were in custody for a violent charge as their MSO.footnote 85 Similarly, the 145 individual inmates involved in reported inmate-on-staff incidents at TSDC in 2017 were mostly on remand (85%), but a larger proportion was young (nearly 60% under age 30 and 83% under age 40) and 62% were in custody for a violent charge as their MSO (Figure 5).footnote 86 The TSDC Case Study further explains the limitations on forming conclusions based solely on MSO data, due to the lack of comparable information pertaining to the inmate population not involved in reported inmate-on-staff incidents, that charges alone do not equate to convictions, and the violent/non-violent categorization is incompatible with the current OTIS ranking system of charge types (see Section A-II. Inmate-on-Staff Incidents, 2017 In-Depth Analysis, Inmates Involved in Incidents).

Figure 5. Age, holding type, and most serious offence for inmates at TSDC in 2017

This figure compares the inmate characteristics of an average TSDC inmate population and the group of inmates involved in reported inmate-on-staff incidents at TSDC in 2017. Over 80% of either group was in custody on remand. A larger proportion of inmates involved in incidents were under age 30 (about 60% under age 30 compared to about 40% in the average TSDC inmate population), and a larger proportion were in custody for a violent offence as their most serious offence (62% vs. 50%).

In the Interim Report, the Independent Review Team examined the control mechanisms that are currently available to correctional employees, as well as tools not currently available but that have been proposed by frontline staff. Control mechanisms reviewed in the Interim Report included disciplinary segregation, conducted energy weapons (CEWs), and cell door meal hatches with a ‘sally port’ function. Additionally, operational practices including security classification, inmate housing, and programming were examined.

Control mechanisms

The Interim Report found that the number of misconducts issued in provincial institutions increased between 2010 and 2017. Further, with respect to disciplinary segregation imposed following a misconduct, the Independent Review Team discovered that, while Ontario correctional institutions experienced a decrease in disciplinary segregation placements following the release of a ministry directive in October 2016, segregation continued to be frequently used as a disciplinary tool. The TSDC Case Study provided additional evidence that disciplinary segregation was not only utilized, but was actually employed in the large majority of formal misconducts against staff with guilty findings in 2017. At TSDC, of 102 misconducts with findings of guilt linked to reported inmate-on-staff incidents of violence in 2017, 75 (74%) resulted in a close confinement (i.e., disciplinary segregation) sanction.

Some frontline correctional staff and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) members of the Provincial Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee (PJOHSC) have proposed CEWs as an option to respond to institutional violence. The Independent Review Team conducted a jurisdictional scan to examine the use of CEWs in correctional facilities across Canada and discovered that, in each jurisdiction where the use of CEWs were piloted or implemented, they are either rarely used or use has been discontinued entirely due to a lack of evidence linking their use to a reduction in institutional violence.footnote 87 Moreover, some research indicates that individuals experiencing behavioural and health disorders (such as mental health and substance use disorders) are more likely to have their behaviour perceived as resistance by those armed with CEWs, and, as a consequence, disproportionately have CEWs used against them.footnote 88 In spite of this evidence, as well as research showing that there is a high potential for abuse when CEWs are implemented in correctional settings – which has resulted in numerous inmate fatalities and wrongful death lawsuitsfootnote 89OPSEU members of the PJOHSC remain convinced that Ontario’s experience would be different and advocate for the implementation of these weapons in provincial institutions.

Correctional officers have also suggested implementation of specialty cell door meal hatches to prevent violent incidents that occur through open hatches. While 19%footnote 90 of respondents across Ontario’s institutions expressed this view, it was especially common at TSDC, where 42%footnote 91 of respondents indicated that implementing this measure would most increase staff safety. The Independent Review Team canvassed the jurisdictional and academic literature to identify best practices and assess the viability of adopting this strategy in Ontario’s provincial institutions. The Independent Review Team was unable to identify any research examining the use of cell door meal hatches with a ‘sally port’ function and their utility as a means of reducing institutional violence has not been established.footnote 92

Currently, the ministry does not collect data pertaining to whether or not reported inmate-on-staff incidents occurred through the cell door meal hatch. The Independent Review Team was able to conduct this specific analysis on reported incidents at TSDC in its in-depth Case Study, and found that not including threats, 80 reported inmate-on-staff incidents (43%) in 2017 occurred through the cell door meal hatch. As expected, the large majority (79%) of all throwing-related incidents (i.e., of items, liquids, or bodily fluids/substances) occurred through the cell door meal hatch. The majority of incidents that occurred through these hatches occurred in a Segregation Unit, and large proportions of the remaining incidents occurred in a Special Handling Unit or Mental Health Assessment Unit. The TSDC Case Study data suggests that cell door meal hatch-related incidents may be restricted to a subgroup of the inmate population that could be appropriately identified, allowing for precautionary measures to be adopted to avoid such incidents.

While the widespread implementation of cell door meal hatches with a ‘sally port’ function would be ill-advised given the lack of evidence supporting their effectiveness, it may be advisable to consider retrofitting a very limited number of cell door meal hatches in some of Ontario’s institutions for appropriately classified inmates housed on specific units (e.g., Behavioural Care Units). It would be important to ensure that this strategy be implemented alongside other measures (e.g., multi-security units, evidence-based security classification tools, inmate programming, and additional staff training) and implemented after the development of ministry policy governing the proper use of these hatches. Furthermore, rigorous data collection during this pilot study is essential to allow for the assessment of this strategy and its potential benefits and shortcomings. Evaluation of the pilot study must consider demographic information pertaining to the inmates whose cell door(s) is equipped with these specialty meal hatches, other interventions initiated (i.e., programs, additional clinical supports), and outcomes while the specialty hatch is and is not in use (including reported inmate-on-staff violence and inmate-related outcomes such as self-harm or distress).

Inmate intake assessment and classification

The inmate population varies substantially across institutions, based on many factors including geographic location (e.g., urban centres or rural areas) and purpose of the facility (e.g., sentenced or remand centre). As a result, the services required for each institution’s inmate population will vary as well. It is essential that classification, housing and programming needs be tailored to the risk and needs of the inmate population and that consideration be given to overrepresented and vulnerable populations.footnote 93

Presently, one indicator of behavioural risk is the presence of an active alert(s) in the Offender Tracking Information System (OTIS). Alerts can be added to an inmate’s information in OTIS by most frontline correctional employees. Some alerts have automatic expiry dates following release from custody (e.g., suicide risk alert), but other alerts do not (e.g., gang affiliation). For alerts that do not automatically expire, the onus is on correctional employees to access OTIS and remove an active alert that is no longer relevant. Thus, it is possible that some alerts unnecessarily remain active. This can be particularly problematic, as the current practice for determining custody rating, housing assignment, program access, institutional work assignment, and other elements of sentence management is largely based upon notes in OTIS.footnote 94

It is essential that OTIS alerts be structured around an evidence-based tool of risk classification; at present, however, it appears that inmates may be assigned a particular OTIS risk alert based solely on the discretion of correctional employees. For OTIS alerts to be effective, they must be accurate and verified; for example, an inmate assigned a Mental Health alert should have this status confirmed by a clinician and not just be dependent on the observation of any correctional employee who may lack clinical training. OTIS is a database accessible across institutions and can play an important role in relevant information sharing in real-time, particularly as individuals may be transferred from one facility to another or be released and supervised in the community. However, lacking verification, the standardization of alerts, and quality control to ensure that only the most relevant alerts remain active in OTIS, the system will continue to lack the reliability necessary for it to be utilized as a classification and management tool.

The Interim Report emphasized the importance of effective risk management through evidence-based classification and risk analyses to determine institutional security and inmate housing needs. The Independent Review Team found that the MCSCS does not conduct regular security risk or classification assessments despite evidence-based research and policies across Canada and much of the world suggesting that regular assessment and proper classification of inmates can reduce institutional violence.footnote 95

In response to the IROC Institutional Violence Survey, 25%footnote 96 of respondents selected “internal inmate classification” as one of their top five elements that would enhance staff safety at their current institution. The benefits of appropriately screening and classifying inmates were reflected in the sentiments expressed by frontline staff, including one officer who stated:

I truly believe that if we can properly implement and appropriately classify the inmates in our care to the best of our abilities institutional violence can be mitigated. It is understandable that in our line of work an individual may become angry, agitated, or have a crisis. These individuals may have violent and unpredictable outbursts […] If we can identify those inmates who are more prone to have violent outbursts then we can classify them appropriately and provide proper alternative housing and specialized clinical and correctional teams to better implement functional programming to these individuals.

The ministry has acknowledged the need to implement an evidence-based security screening tool and has created an Advisory Group to develop a risk-based security classification instrument to “sort inmates into security levels based on their likelihood of institutional violence, frequent misconduct, and/or escape”.footnote 97 The ministry has procured the services of an academic advisor to support the development of a security classification process and tool, however, to date, no such instrument has been implemented. This lack of a province-wide solution has resulted in localized efforts being developed and applied at various institutions.

For example, as the first direct supervision facility in Ontario, it was imperative that TSDC develop an internal classification system and it is one of the few provincial institutions that actively uses an internal screening tool to classify inmates based on housing needs.footnote 98 Currently, TSDC relies upon the Internal Placement Report (IPR) to classify inmates and to determine their institutional placement (e.g., direct supervision vs. indirect supervision).footnote 99 The TSDC IPR is divided into eight sections and scores inmates on a number of behavioural measures (e.g., whether the inmate follows direction, is cooperative, has positive interactions with authority and other inmates), past and current violent offences, previous dispositions, behaviour management concerns (e.g., previous institutional misconducts, assaults on staff/police or inmates), and considers any accommodation issues and programming needs. The current IPR in use at TSDC is not evidence-based and has not been evaluated nor validated.footnote 100

Ideally, inmates at TSDC are classified within days of arriving at the facility, although the institution advised the Independent Review Team that “there is not a set timeframe” and the classification process can be lengthy and may be influenced by lockdowns, institutional staffing, safety concerns, inmate court dates, and other relevant classification factors such as gang affiliations, non-associations, and ‘keep separates’.footnote 101 Following the completion of the IPR assessment, inmates are housed on one of TSDC’s direct or indirect supervision units.

I honestly believe that the Direct Supervision [DS] model is the way to go however there has to be […] proper internal and external classification of all inmates on an ongoing basis - there also has to be conditions set where an inmate can be deemed ‘Not DS suitable’ and alternatively housed in a non-DS facility as we all know not every inmate is suitable for DS

Correctional Officer, South West Detention Centre

While some staff expressed concern with the current IPR classification tool and the operational processes being implemented to assess and classify inmates at TSDC, it is worth noting that the Independent Review Team found that fewer incidents of reported inmate-on-staff violence occurred on direct supervision units.footnote 102 The TSDC Case Study revealed that, although about 43% of a snapshot of the inmate population from 2017 was housed on a general populationfootnote 103 direct supervision unit, only about 10% of all reported inmate-on-staff incidents (26 of 252) in that year occurred on such units. Other unit types (e.g., Segregation, Special Handling Unit [SHU], Behavioural Management Unit [BMU]) were overrepresented in reported incidents, given the proportion of the inmate population that is housed in them. While not conclusive, these findings support the belief that a subgroup of the inmate population may be more likely to engage in institutional violence, which, in turn, point to the benefits of appropriate classification and housing of inmates.

Multi-level housing units

Once classified, it is imperative that inmates are appropriately housed based on their identified security risk and programming or treatment needs. A number of correctional employees indicated that the availability and proper use of alternative housing was integral to the success of institutional operations. For instance, 14%footnote 104 of respondents to the IROC Institutional Violence Survey believed that alternative housing contributed to staff safety at their current institution while 18%footnote 105 felt that safety could be enhanced by more alternative housing. Correctional officers, sergeants, and senior administrators from various correctional facilities across Ontario reported that inadequate “housing alternatives” or “lack of options to house problematic inmates” hindered the success of the supervision model at their institution.

The ministry has recently made efforts to standardize institutional housing units throughout the province. For instance, the Correctional Services and Reintegration Act, 2018, which received Royal Assent in May 2018, distinguishes between general population housing (“housing for inmates within a correctional institution, other than alternative housing”) and alternative housing (“housing for inmates who require accommodation or services that cannot be provided within the general inmate population, and includes prescribed types of housing”).footnote 106 The new legislation further defines segregationfootnote 107 as a condition of confinement, rather than a housing unit.

Changes to ministry policy governing the placement of special management inmatesfootnote 108 have also been implemented. In January 2018, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario issued a Consent Order that stemmed from an earlier agreement to implement public interest remedies in settlement of a complaint brought by Christina Jahn.footnote 109 The Consent Order required that the province define and set out in policy a definition of segregation by June 29, 2018.footnote 110 The Order further mandated that Ontario “identify and categorize all housing placements other than general population (“alternative housing”) based on the conditions of confinement therein” and stipulated that definitions of alternative housing be included in relevant policy by June 29, 2018, and applied across the provincial correctional system by December 31, 2018.footnote 111 In complying with the Order, the ministry released its revised policy regarding the placement of special management inmates in July 2018. The policy outlines two distinct categories of housing options, each of which is further divided into a number of sub-categories (Textbox 6).footnote 112

Unfortunately, there has been a lack of guidance on how to operationalize these units, and, despite the recent policy revision, Ontario’s provincial facilities continue to operate an array of housing units with different names and various operational procedures. The TSDC Case Study (Appendix A) revealed that the institution has a number of specialty units including intake, segregation, special handling, behavioural management, mental health assessment, special needs, medical, and infirmary. The names and current operating procedures of these units are not yet consistent with the July 2018 ministry policy revisions.

Correctional officers at TSDC indicated in the IROC Institutional Violence Survey that “step- down units” and the use of segregation and other restrictive units were positive means to manage “inmates that are not suitable” for direct supervision, thereby contributing to the success of the inmate supervision model. However, as noted earlier, although this may contribute to fewer reported inmate-on-staff incidents on direct supervision units, reported inmate-on-staff incidents in fact increased on these specialized units at TSDC in 2017. This underscores the need for additional resources and supports, and highlights that restrictive or alternative housing alone will not prevent institutional violence.


Identifying appropriate institutional placement based on security risk classification and inmate need is the first step in smoother institutional operations. Aligning individual treatment and programming needs to correspond with institutional housing placements is the next logical step in fostering rehabilitation and reintegration efforts. Providing and ensuring access to appropriate programming for inmates has been recognized in the empirical literature as a crucial component of evidence-based correctional practice, and has been linked with benefits such as reducing the potential for institutional misconducts and violence among inmates.footnote 114

The Interim Report further examined incidents of reported inmate-on-staff violence at Ontario’s three correctional treatment facilities and highlighted the Ontario Correctional Institute (OCI) as having the lowest reported incidents of inmate-on-staff violence between 2012 and 2017 (total of six reported incidents).footnote 115 OCI is a 186-bed facility that houses provincially-sentenced male inmates who have been deemed to be compatible with the medium-security environment and treatment programs offered at the institution. Typically, inmates must have a sentence of six months or more in order to be admitted to OCI​.

OCI is commonly viewed as a unique correctional environment by virtue of its more available clinical resources, engaged correctional staff, emphasis on inmate programming, a pre- screening process prior to admission, assessment during orientation that includes determination of individualized programming needs, employee and inmate relationship, and working environment. In the IROC Institutional Violence Survey correctional employees at OCI acknowledged these features and also offered “extra freedoms”, “good food”, “ample recreation time”, “open setting/no cells/no bars” and “case management” as aspects that facilitate the success of the institution’s inmate supervision model. These are all elements of evidence-based correctional practices,footnote 116 many of which can be – and are currently being – replicated in other provincial institutions.

OCI is a unique facility that is supported by its physical design, relationship custody, programming, clinical resources and engaged Correctional Staff. When there is a deficit in any of these areas the OCI model suffers.

Senior Administrator, Ontario Correctional Institute

Perhaps unsurprisingly, in response to the IROC Institutional Violence Survey, 93%footnote 117 of correctional employees from the OCI​ reported that they felt safe working at that institution while over half (63%footnote 118) advised that they never worried about being assaulted by an inmate. In addition, a number of respondents from other provincial correctional facilities listed OCI​ as an institution they would like to work at, and would feel safer working in compared to their current institution.footnote 119

Figure 6. Inmate recreation areas, OCI

From left to right: recreation area with two billiard tables available for inmate use; section of gymnasium with stationary exercise bicycles and table tennis equipment.
From left to right: recreation area with two billiard tables available for inmate use; section of gymnasium with stationary exercise bicycles and table tennis equipment.

Figure 7. Communal living and dining areas, OCI

From left to right: single-bed dorm with individual desks and lockers; communal dining room with numerous moveable metal tables and chairs.
From left to right: single-bed dorm with individual desks and lockers; communal dining room with numerous moveable metal tables and chairs.

Other institutions that have established inmate programs include Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC), which employs eight teachers from Simcoe County District School Board who facilitated the continuing education program offered at the facility. The institution reported that it is the largest adult learning centre in Simcoe County and an audit of the most recent school year, which ran from September 2017 to August 2018, revealed that 90 inmates graduated and that a total of 2,149 credits were earned. Moreover, CNCC employs a dedicated skills and trade manager, a program manager for vocations and industries, and two trade instructors who provide vocational learning and skills supervision. All of these positions facilitate programming designed to enhance employability following release from custody and enable inmates to develop vocational skills while under the ministry’s care. Some of the courses offered at CNCC between September 2017 and August 2018 included “Intro to Business Computers”,footnote 120 “Communications Technology”,footnote 121 and a carpentry program. The institution reported that 51, 37, and 25 inmates, respectively, were enrolled in these courses between September 2017 and August 2018.

Figure 8. Inmate program areas, CNCC

From left to right: inmate carpentry workshop for skills and trades training at CNCC with access to power tools; Trilcor Industries’ knitting and weaving workshop for inmate vocational training related to fabrics and textiles, with access to sewing machines and large tables.
From left to right: inmate carpentry workshop for skills and trades training at CNCC with access to power tools; Trilcor Industries’footnote 122 knitting and weaving workshop for inmate vocational training related to fabrics and textiles, with access to sewing machines and large tables.

Similarly, the St. Lawrence Valley Correctional and Treatment Centre (SLVCTC) has adopted several evidence-based correctional practices. SLVCTC is designated as a Schedule 1 hospital and, in essence, functions as a hospital within a correctional facility for provincially-sentenced males with major mental illness.footnote 123 SLVCTC has 100 bedsfootnote 124 and residents are housed in single occupancy rooms on one of the institution’s four self-contained living units after undergoing security classification. SLVCTC enables inmates to “access needed psychiatric treatment in a safe and secure environment while providing needed correctional intervention aimed [at reducing] future involvement with the criminal justice system”. The institution offers a number of programs and treatment options (including psychological and pharmacological) and has the capacity to provide non-consensual treatment to residents.

Figure 9. Resident room, SLVCTC

This image is of a standard single occupancy room at St. Lawrence Valley Correctional and Treatment Centre. It has an unobstructed window with curtains, a desk with moveable chair, and a personal wardrobe.
This image is of a standard single occupancy room at St. Lawrence Valley Correctional and Treatment Centre. It has an unobstructed window with curtains, a desk with moveable chair, and a personal wardrobe.

Unlike OCI, CNCC, and SLVCTC, the Kenora Jail houses both sentenced and remand inmates. The district jail offers an impressive selection of programs, many of which are founded on partnerships with the community. Furthermore, social workers at Kenora Jail frequently attend programming with female inmates in the community. It is common for escorted temporary absences to be granted to the female population in Kenora to enable women housed at the institution to access programs that are only offered in the community.

The importance of inmate programming was reflected in the views expressed by several correctional employees. For instance, one correctional officer stated, “until we maintain discipline and order with better programs that give individuals the ability to succeed in society corrections today is a fail”. Similarly, a sergeant with over 15 years of experience working for the ministry reported:

over my years working with both male/female young offenders, and adult male offenders, they thrive on keeping busy, rules, regulations and consistency. They like to know what their day looks like, they enjoy routine, even if it’s just staff enforcing the same rules day in and day out. Programming needs to happen, outside time needs to happen, telephone calls, showers need to happen.

Programs are essential and should be mandatory. If programs do not happen there should be reports as to why and efforts to ensure the issues are addressed.

Social Worker, Central Region

More broadly, the Independent Review Team found that the majority of correctional employees (58%footnote 125) believed that the purpose of incarceration was rehabilitation and eventual reintegration. Interestingly, while empirical evidence suggests that programming is key to rehabilitation and can mitigate institutional violence,footnote 126 only 14%footnote 127 of respondents prioritized programming as a key aspect that contributed most to staff safety at their institution and only 16%footnote 128 felt that additional programming would most increase staff safety.

Some frontline staff expressed concern regarding the programming currently available to inmates at their institution. One seasoned officer wrote, “it seems to me that the successful model for female inmates was abolished when the original Vanier in Brampton closed. There were work programs available to provide the women with skills and keep them productive. Additionally the women had liberal access to educational programs and liberal access to fresh air”. The officer further advised that, “at [my] current location [inmates] have limited access to these. Due to the crisis in staffing over the past years inmates are subjected to extended lockdowns and have limited access to what few available programs we have. More life skill programming would be an asset”. Similarly, another respondent reported that, “we current[ly] allow inmates out of their cells for 6 hr per day […] What kind of treatment is this? [...] I would like to see the changes to the amount of time inmates are allowed out of their cells. This allows for the initiation of more programs geared toward rehabilitation (school, trade). Zero rehabilitation happens at this jail”. Lastly, a veteran officer submitted, “we lack any sort of meaningful programming. Addiction is a huge problem that we are ignoring”, while a recreational officer advised, “that recreation can have positive impacts of reintegration… [but there were] huge limitations given our available space and condition of the jail” and that “programming is inconsistent, irregular and not available enough to make a difference”.

[…] institutions require more resources and physical space to carry out the appropriate programming to assist with inmate rehabilitation – the union needs to get onboard with rehabilitation.

Sergeant, Northern Region

In addition to limitations on the availability and delivery of inmate programming due to space, financial resources, and staff shortages, which may result in lockdowns that hinder consistency, some correctional employees advised that staff attitudes may adversely impact operations. For example, one respondent emphasized the value of inmate programming and suggested that “perhaps include this [information] in basic [correctional officer] training as they seem to think that programming is just ‘arts and crafts’ and not important”. Similarly, one social worker wrote, “more often than not guards have a power trip over controlling access program staff have with inmates, limiting our ability to perform our jobs and provide essential rehabilitative supports to inmates”.

The negative attitudes that undermine successful inmate programming were apparent in some of the feedback received from frontline correctional staff. One seasoned correctional officer asserted that “the only special programs should be those that deal with mental health issue…all others are a waste of time and focus”. Another officer stated, “the government forgets (or just doesn’t care) that inmates aren’t housed in jails because they are good people. The powers that be are so focused on programming and inmate rights that they have forgotten about their front line correctional officers”.

I am shocked at the lack of respect [correctional officers] have for program staff and the role they have. [Correctional officers] often have no idea what our job entails and have no motivation to support us in completing our jobs. Access to inmates is controlled by [correctional officers] and they take advantage of that and deny access for program staff they do not like.

Social Worker, Eastern Region

The Independent Review Team’s in-depth investigation of TSDC provided considerable insight into many issues related to inmate programming at that institution and that may exist at others as well, though further study is warranted. The programming offered at TSDC generally falls into four categories: institutional work, educational, spiritual, and general interest.footnote 129 Given that the institution primarily houses individuals on remand, the catalogue of activities and programs, including many supported by volunteers, appears impressive.footnote 130 Nonetheless, most of the programs do not focus on rehabilitation or treatment, and their delivery is dependent on non-contracted community organizations or volunteers, which, consequently, make them vulnerable to cancelations due to staff shortages, lockdowns, and competing operational demands.

The Independent Review Team was advised that TSDC offers a single institutional work program with a maximum capacity of 40 inmates at any given time and, while the facility does not track the total number of annual participants, staff estimated that 180 inmates participated in 2017.footnote 131 Currently, TSDC only has one fee-for-services contract with the Toronto District School Board to deliver a credit-based educational program for inmates and the institution advised that, in 2017, only 73footnote 132 inmates participated in the program. TSDC had an average inmate population of 873 in 2017 and saw 7,012 admissions to custodyfootnote 133 during that same year. Granted, many of these admissions may be for a short duration and include individuals who enter into custody multiple times; nevertheless, they equate to a large number of opportunities for entry into treatment or programs both within the institution and the community.

Presently, TSDC offers only twofootnote 134 ministry-developed and ministry-facilitated programs, one of which was not delivered during the 2017 Case Study review period, and the other was not developed with the intention of rehabilitating or providing treatment to inmates. TSDC reported that both volunteer- and ministry-run programs are evaluated, however the measures were ambiguous, such as to “only look at client interest and attendance”, whether “program delivery is done professionally”, and whether “the volunteer is comfortable in [the institutional] environment”.

TSDC initially advised the Independent Review Team that all inmates had access to the programs offered at the facility. However, upon further investigation, it became apparent that inmate access to programming can be restricted by a number of operational factors, including staff shortages, lockdowns, and the unit on which an inmate is housed. For example, TSDC reported that, in 2017, all of the facility’s course offerings were on direct supervision units; in other words, inmates being housed on more restrictive units were less likely to be able to access institutional programming.

This finding is not unique to TSDC. In fact, other institutions further restrict inmates from participating in specialized programs based on their custodial status. For instance, the admission requirements for the inmate work program at Maplehurst Correctional Complex preclude inmates on remand and those being held pursuant to an immigration deportation order from participating. These operational practices do not align with well-recognized programming principles, including that individuals with the highest risk should be provided with more frequent and intensive programming based on their individual need(s), and that programming can also be successful when accessed in the community.footnote 135

TSDC also advised that some programs are impacted by the institutional staffing complement. Some are delivered by program officers, that is, correctional officers who have expressed an interest in program delivery and have been temporarily assigned these positions within the institution. While it is commendable that dedicated positions have been allocated for the purpose of delivering programs to inmates, assigning this duty to correctional officers is associated with certain challenges. For instance, these officers are not clinicians and they have not been specially trained in the Risk-Needs-Responsivity model.footnote 136 Moreover, programs are vulnerable to cancelations due to staff shortages, given that program officers are reassigned to fill in for absent correctional officers when the facility is short-staffed.

Operational practices recommendations


  • footnote[14] Back to paragraph IROC, Interim Report, supra note 9.
  • footnote[15] Back to paragraph Following the report of workplace violence, a written review is then conducted by the manager/supervisor including recommendations for steps to take to prevent future workplace violence.
  • footnote[16] Back to paragraph At times the IIR may be completed by a staff sergeant if the sergeant/manager is otherwise occupied and unable to complete the IIR.
  • footnote[17] Back to paragraph IROC, Interim Report, supra note 9 at 16.
  • footnote[18] Back to paragraph There is a Procedural Checklist of information to include when completing an IIR. This checklist acts as guidance material for sergeants/managers completing the IIR, and when elements are missing, staff at the IMU will attempt to follow-up with regional offices or institutions to obtain the missing information.
  • footnote[19] Back to paragraph IROC, Interim Report, supra note 9 at 16.
  • footnote[20] Back to paragraph Ibid.
  • footnote[21] Back to paragraph Alerts refer to notifications that can be recorded in OTIS by correctional employees. These alerts can include categorization by substance abuse, mental health, management risk, suicide risk, and security threat group.
  • footnote[22] Back to paragraph Hans Toch, Peacekeeping: Police, Prisons, and Violence (Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1976); See also, Alison Liebling and Deborah Kent, “Two Cultures: Correctional Officers and Key Differences in Institutional Climate” in John Woolredge and Paula Smith (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Prisons and Imprisonment (Oxford UP, 2018), 208-234 (hereafter, Liebling and Kent, Two Cultures).
  • footnote[23] Back to paragraph Alison Liebling, Susie Hulley and Ben Crewe, "Conceptualising and Measuring the Quality of Prison Life," The Sage Handbook of Criminological Research Methods (2011); Ben Crewe, Alison Liebling and Susie Hulley, "Staff Culture, Use of Authority and Prisoner Quality of Life in Public and Private Sector Prisons," Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology 44, no. 1 (2011) (hereafter, Crewe et al.., Staff Culture); Alison Liebling, “Moral Performance, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Prison Pain,” Punishment & Society 13, no. 5 (2011) (hereafter Liebling, Moral Performance); Alison Liebling, “Why Prison Staff Culture Matters,” in James Byrne, Faye Taxman, and Donald Hummer (eds.), The Culture of Prison Violence (Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon, 2008), 105-122; Alison Liebling, “Distinctions and Distinctiveness in the Work of Prison Officers: Legitimacy and Authority Revisited,” European Journal of Criminology 8, no. 6 (2011) (hereafter, Liebling, Distinctions).
  • footnote[24] Back to paragraph Jill A. Gordon and Amy J. Stichman, “The Influence of Rehabilitative and Punishment Ideology on Correctional Officers’ Perceptions of Informal Bases of Power,” International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology 60, no. 4 (2016); See also, Liebling, Moral Performance, supra note 23.
  • footnote[25] Back to paragraph Crewe et al., Staff Culture, supra note 23.
  • footnote[26] Back to paragraph Donald Specter, “Making Prisons Safe: Strategies for Reducing Violence,” Washington University Journal of Law & Policy 22, no. 1 (2006): 125.
  • footnote[27] Back to paragraph Liebling, Moral Performance, supra note 23.
  • footnote[28] Back to paragraph Liebling, Distinctions, supra note 23.
  • footnote[29] Back to paragraph Crewe et al., Staff Culture, supra note 23.
  • footnote[30] Back to paragraph For research examining the impact of the principle of restraint and least restrictive measures (conditions of confinement) and recidivism, see: James Bonta and Paul Gendreau, “Reexamining the Cruel and Unusual Punishment of Prison Life,” Law and Human Behavior 14, no. 4 (1990) (hereafter, Bonta and Gendreau, Cruel and Unusual); Paul Gendreau and Claire Goggin, “The Effects of Prison Sentences and Intermediate Sanctions on Recidivism: General Effects and Individual Differences,” Public Safety Canada (Government of Canada, 2002); Francis T. Cullen, Cheryl Lero Jonson and Daniel S. Nagin, “Prisons Do Not Reduce Recidivism: The High Cost of Ignoring Science,” The Prison Journal 91, no. 3 (2011) (hereafter, Cullen et al., Prisons); William D. Bales and Alex R. Piquero, “Assessing the Impact of Imprisonment on Recidivism,” Journal of Experimental Criminology 71, no. 8 (2012).
  • footnote[31] Back to paragraph Ibid.
  • footnote[32] Back to paragraph French and Gendreau, Reducing Misconducts, supra note 11; Campbell et al., Prediction of Violence, supra note 11.
  • footnote[33] Back to paragraph Liebling and Kent, Two Cultures, supra note 22 at 225.
  • footnote[34] Back to paragraph Prior to the 1970s, women in corrections were hired as matrons (working as correctional officers within correctional institutions for women), clerks, and administrative support workers.
  • footnote[35] Back to paragraph Maeve McMahon, Women on Guard: Discrimination and Harassment in Corrections (University of Toronto Press, 1999) in Freda Burdett, Lynne Gouliquer, and Carmen Poulin, “Culture of Corrections: The Experiences of Women Correctional Officers,” Feminist Criminology 13, no. 3 (2018): 329-349 (hereafter, Burdett et al., Culture of Corrections).
  • footnote[36] Back to paragraph MCSCS data; Burdett et al., Culture of Corrections, ibid at 332.
  • footnote[37] Back to paragraph Jill A. Gordon, Blythe Proulx, and Patricia H. Grant, “Trepidation Among the “Keepers”: Gendered Perceptions of Fear and Risk of Victimization Among Corrections Officers,” American Journal of Criminal Justice 38, no. 2 (2013): 245-265.
  • footnote[38] Back to paragraph Jill A. Gordon and Thomas Baker, “Examining Correctional Officers’ Fear of Victimization by Inmates: The Influence of Fear Facilitators and Fear Inhibitors," Criminal Justice Policy Review 28, no. 5 (2017): at 463 (hereafter, Gordon and Baker, Officers’ Fear); See also, Burdett et al., Culture of Corrections, supra note 35.
  • footnote[39] Back to paragraph Gordon and Baker, Officers’ Fear, ibid.
  • footnote[40] Back to paragraph Gaylene S. Armstrong and Marie L. Griffin, “Does the Job Matter? Comparing Correlates of Stress Among Treatment and Correctional Staff in Prisons,” Journal of Criminal Justice 32, no. 6 (2004). See also, IROC, Interim Report, supra note 9; Rose Ricciardelli, Nicole Power and Daniella Simas Medeiros, “Correctional Officers in Canada: Interpreting Workplace Violence,” Criminal Justice Review (2018) (hereafter, Ricciardelli et al., Correctional Officers in Canada).
  • footnote[41] Back to paragraph Abdel Halim Boudoukha et al., “Inmates-to-Staff Assaults, PTSD and Burnout: Profiles of Risk and Vulnerability,” Journal of Interpersonal Violence 28, no. 11 (2013); See also, R. Nicholas Carleton et al., Mental Disorder Symptoms among Public Safety Personnel in Canada, supra note 2 (this study has shown that alongside police officers and paramedics, correctional officers are most likely to experience mental disorder from work-related stress, including symptoms associated with PTSD).
  • footnote[42] Back to paragraph Based on 412 (of 781) correctional officer respondents who either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement “I feel safe working at my current institution”.
  • footnote[43] Back to paragraph Based on 255 (of 388) respondents who did not indicate that they were correctional officers and either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “I feel safe working at my current institution”.
  • footnote[44] Back to paragraph Christina Howorun, “Inmates, Staff in Ontario Jails Still Getting Hurt with Contraband Weapons,” CityNews, December 1, 2017. Online:; CBC News, “7 Inmates at London, Ont. Jail Overdose Within Minutes of Each Other, Police Say,” CBC News London, August 9, 2018. Online:
  • footnote[45] Back to paragraph As of November, 2018, Fort Frances Jail does not have an operational body scanner.
  • footnote[46] Back to paragraph Ian Burns, “Body Scanners to be Installed at CNCC in Penetanguishene,” Simcoe News, May 4, 2016. Online:
  • footnote[47] Back to paragraph For instance, those monitoring the scans may have difficulty distinguishing foreign objects from human anatomy if not adequately trained in interpreting the digital scanner images.
  • footnote[48] Back to paragraph Christina Howorun, “How Toronto South Detention Centre Became Ontario’s Most Violent Jail”, Toronto Star, November 21, 2018. Online:
  • footnote[49] Back to paragraph Ricciardelli et al., Correctional Officers in Canada, supra note 40; For Ontario see: Larocque, Penal Practices, supra note 10; Burdett et al., Culture of Corrections, supra note 35; IROC, Interim Report, supra note 9.
  • footnote[50] Back to paragraph Katherine A. DeCelles, D. Scott DeRue, Joshua D. Margolis and Tara L. Ceranic, “Does Power Corrupt or Enable? When and Why Power Facilitates Self-Interested Behaviour,” Journal of Applied Psychology 97, no. 3 (2012).
  • footnote[51] Back to paragraph Scott J. Reynolds, Keith Leavitt and Katherine A. DeCelles, “Automatic Ethics: The Effects of Implicit Assumptions and Contextual Cues on Moral Behavior,” Journal of Applied Psychology 95, no. 4 (2010); Frank V. Ferdik and Hayden P. Smith, “Correctional Officer Safety and Wellness Literature Synthesis,” (National Institute of Justice, Washington, DC, 2017).
  • footnote[52] Back to paragraph Based on 813 (of 1,214) respondents who strongly agreed or agreed with the statement “Individuals in custody should be under strict discipline.”
  • footnote[53] Back to paragraph Based on 614 (of 806) correctional officer respondents who strongly agreed or agreed with the statement “Individuals in custody should be under strict discipline.”
  • footnote[54] Back to paragraph IROC, Interim Report, supra note 9 at 26.
  • footnote[55] Back to paragraph Based on 819 (of 1,130) respondents who selected “mandatory minimum sentences for assaults on staff” as one of their top five choices of additional measures that would most increase staff safety (Appendix B, Table B-5).
  • footnote[56] Back to paragraph Based on 602 (of 1,130) respondents who selected “more disciplinary sanctions” as one of their top five choices of additional measures that would most increase staff safety (Appendix B, Table B-5).
  • footnote[57] Back to paragraph Based on 491 (of 1,130) respondents who selected “higher staff to inmate ratio” as one of their top five choices of additional measures that would most increase staff safety (Appendix B, Table B-5).
  • footnote[58] Back to paragraph Based on 398 (of 1,130) respondents who selected “more experienced staff” as one of their top five choices of additional measures that would most increase staff safety (Appendix B, Table B-5).
  • footnote[59] Back to paragraph Based on 391 (of 1,130) respondents who selected “additional staff training” as one of their top five choices of additional measures that would most increase staff safety (Appendix B, Table B-5).
  • footnote[60] Back to paragraph Based on 612 (of 758) correctional officer respondents who selected “mandatory minimum sentences for assaults on staff” as one of their top five choices of additional measures that would most increase staff safety (Appendix B, Table B-5).
  • footnote[61] Back to paragraph Based on 447 (of 758) correctional officer respondents who selected “more disciplinary sanctions” as one of their top five choices of additional measures that would most increase staff safety (Appendix B, Table B-5).
  • footnote[62] Back to paragraph Based on 365 (of 758) correctional officer respondents who selected “higher staff to inmate ratio” as one of their top five choices of additional measures that would most increase staff safety (Appendix B, Table B-5).
  • footnote[63] Back to paragraph Based on 302 (of 758) correctional officer respondents who selected “more restrictive confinement” as one of their top five choices of additional measures that would most increase staff safety (Appendix B, Table B-5).
  • footnote[64] Back to paragraph Based on 237 (of 758) correctional officer respondents who selected “tasers” as one of their top five choices of additional measures that would most increase staff safety (Appendix B, Table B-5).
  • footnote[65] Back to paragraph Anthony N. Doob, A Values and Evidence Approach to Sentencing Purposes and Principles (Research and Statistics Division, Department of Justice, Ottawa, 2016); Anthony N. Doob and Cheryl M. Webster, “Sentence Severity and Crime: Accepting the Null Hypothesis,” Crime and Justice 30 (2003); Anthony N. Doob, Cheryl M. Webster and Rosemary Gartner, “Issues Related to Harsh Sentences and Mandatory Minimums: General Deterrence and Incapacitation” Research Summaries Compiled from Criminological Highlights (Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies, University of Toronto, Toronto, 2014); Raymond Paternoster, “How Much Do We Really Know About Criminal Deterrence?” The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 100, no. 3 (2010): 765-824.
  • footnote[66] Back to paragraph IROC, Interim Report, supra note 9 at 71.
  • footnote[67] Back to paragraph Based on 290 (of 1,130) respondents who selected“use of force” as one of their top five choices of measures that contribute most to staff safety at their institution (Appendix B, Table B-5).
  • footnote[68] Back to paragraph Based on 188 (of 1,130) respondents who selected “more use of force” as one of their top five choices of additional measures that would most increase staff safety at their current institution (Appendix B, Table B-5).
  • footnote[69] Back to paragraph United Nations, The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules), resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 17 December, 2015, Seventieth Session, Agenda item 106, UN General Assembly (2015).
  • footnote[70] Back to paragraph HM Inspectorate of Prisons, Our Expectations: Managing Behaviour, United Kingdom: Crown Copyright (05 July 2017). Online:
  • footnote[71] Back to paragraph MCSCS, Institutional Services Policy and Procedures Manual: Security and Controls: Use of Force (Government of Ontario, December 2013): at 3.1.7.
  • footnote[72] Back to paragraph Ibid, at 3.1.4.
  • footnote[73] Back to paragraph IROC, Interim Report, supra note 9 at 33.
  • footnote[74] Back to paragraph There are other considerations that may contribute to increased reported use of force incidents provincially and at specific institutions, including better reporting practices and an influx of new staff or inmates.
  • footnote[75] Back to paragraph Office of the Correctional Investigator, Annual Report for 2017-2018 (Ottawa, ON: Government of Canada, 2018) at 36.
  • footnote[76] Back to paragraph The ministry procured a third party to review the COTA program and materials in May 2017.
  • footnote[77] Back to paragraph As noted in the Interim Report, the Independent Review Team was advised that a theme of de-escalation is embedded in other training modules in the curriculum. However, these informal means are dependent on the instructor facilitating the training, and it is not possible to measure the degree to, or consistency with, which this de-escalation is promoted across COTA cohorts. See: IROC, Interim Report, supra note 9.
  • footnote[78] Back to paragraph MCSCS, “Ontario to Hire 2000 New Correctional Officers: Hires Will Support Transformation, Help Ensure Staff and Inmate Safety,” Newsroom (Government of Ontario, March 21, 2016). Online:
  • footnote[79] Back to paragraph MCSCS, “Correctional Officer Self-Assessment Questionnaire,” Government of Ontario, (February 2016).
  • footnote[80] Back to paragraph Based on 788 (of 1,130) and 484 (of 1,130) respondents, respectively.
  • footnote[81] Back to paragraph MCSCS, “Becoming a Correctional Services Officer,” Government of Ontario, (January 2017). OPSEU, “Collective Agreement between The Crown in Right of Ontario and Ontario Public Service Union made on the 18th day of November 2016,” OPSEU, Correctional Division, (2016). Online:
  • footnote[82] Back to paragraph IROC, Interim Report, supra note 9 at 35. MSO categorization included “homicide and related”, “serious violent”, “violent sexual”, and “assault and related” offences.
  • footnote[83] Back to paragraph Ibid.
  • footnote[84] Back to paragraph Ibid.
  • footnote[85] Back to paragraph The TSDC inmate population is a representation based on averages that were calculated using monthly snapshot data of the TSDC inmate population – not including inmates housed in the Toronto Intermittent Centre – during 2017.
  • footnote[86] Back to paragraph The MSO for each inmate on the date of the inmate-on-staff incident was verified in OTIS. For the majority of inmates involved in multiple incidents, the MSO for which they were in custody on the date of the incident was violent for all incidents, or non-violent for all incidents. There were seven inmates involved in multiple incidents during multiple periods in custody where the MSO for each custody term was at times for a violent offence and at other times a non-violent offence. These inmates were included in the “MSO-violent” category to identify a presence of a violent charge at any point in 2017.
  • footnote[87] Back to paragraph IROC, Interim Report, supra note 9 at 67-68.
  • footnote[88] Back to paragraph Melissa S. Morabito et al., “The Nature and Extent of Police Use of Force in Encounters with People with Behavioral Health Disorders,” International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 50, (2017): 31-37.
  • footnote[89] Back to paragraph Peter Eliser, Jason Szep and Charles Levinson, “Inmate Deaths Reveal "Torturous" Use of Taser” Reuters, December 6, 2017. Online:
  • footnote[90] Back to paragraph Based on 211 (of 1,130) respondents who selected “cell hatches with sally port function” as one of their top five choices of measures that would most increase staff safety at their current institution (Appendix B, Table B-5).
  • footnote[91] Back to paragraph Based on 110 (of 262) TSDC respondents who selected “cell hatches with sally port function” as one of their five potential choices of measures that would most increase staff safety at TSDC (Appendix B, Table B-5).
  • footnote[92] Back to paragraph IROC, Interim Report, supra note 9.
  • footnote[93] Back to paragraph Independent Review of Ontario Corrections, Corrections in Ontario: Directions for Reform (Ottawa: Independent Review of Ontario Corrections, Government of Ontario, September 2017). Online:
  • footnote[94] Back to paragraph The ministry conducts a Level of Service Inventory – Ontario Revision (LSI-OR) assessment for inmates provincially sentenced for 30 days or longer, and an Adult Institution Initial Assessment and Placement Report (AIIAPR) for inmates sentenced to less than 30 days. The LSI-OR informs the Program Plan for inmates serving sentences of more than six months, though the Independent Review Team reported in the Corrections in Ontario: Directions for Reform report that most institutions are not using Program Plans and staff members, when interviewed, were generally unaware of the obligation to do so.
  • footnote[95] Back to paragraph Ryan M. Lebrecque and Paula Smith, “Reducing Institutional Disorder: Using the Inmate Risk assessment for Segregation Placement to Triage Treatment Services at the Front End of Prison Sentences,” Crime & Delinquency (2017) (hereafter, Lebrecque and Smith, Reducing Institutional Disorder); IROC, Interim Report, supra note 9; Paul Gendreau and David Keyes, “Making Prisons Safer and More Humane Environments,” Canadian Journal of Criminology 43, no. 1 (2001).
  • footnote[96] Back to paragraph Based on 277 (of 1,130) respondents who answered the question (Appendix B, Table B-5).
  • footnote[97] Back to paragraph June 5, 2018 Inmate Risk Assessment Slide Presentation for the Risk Based Screener for Classification: Advisory Group.
  • footnote[98] Back to paragraph The Toronto South Detention Centre, South West Detention Centre, and Vanier Centre for Women are the only provincial correctional facilities in Ontario to use internal classification tools.
  • footnote[99] Back to paragraph Direct Supervision (“DS”) refers to a supervision model where correctional officers are stationed inside inmate living units in order to promote direct, continuous interaction with inmates. Through these interactions, correctional staff takes charge of the unit and are able to actively manage behaviour and address minor issues before they become more significant problems. The model is also predicated on physical plant requirements to reduce problematic behaviour by housing inmates in more normalized units with access to programs and activities designed to keep inmates meaningfully engaged throughout the day. The majority (32) of inmate living units at TSDC are designed to support the direct supervision inmate management model while the remaining units (11) operate using the indirect (remote) supervision model.
  • footnote[100] Back to paragraph For further description of the development of the IPR, see Appendix A. Case Study: Toronto South Detention Centre.
  • footnote[101] Back to paragraph According to the ministry’s Offender Non-Association policy, non-association between two offenders is “only recorded in OTIS if it is court ordered and/or a decision is made by senior management for administrative reasons”. In circumstances where local managers determine that two inmates need to be kept apart from one another, the institution will identify these inmates as ‘keep separates’ and put a non-association alert into OTIS. The term ‘keep separates’ does not appear in the Institutional Services Policy and Procedures Manual.
  • footnote[102] Back to paragraph Ministry data suggests that inmate-on-inmate violence may be less prevalent in direct supervision facilities as well. In 2017, there were 269 reported inmate-on-inmate assaults at TSDC, while other institutions with comparable or smaller inmate populations but operating under indirect supervision models reported more inmate-on-inmate assaults (e.g., 423 at Central East Correctional Centre, 368 at Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre, 316 at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre).
  • footnote[103] Back to paragraph It was not possible to obtain an average inmate count by unit for TSDC in 2017, therefore a breakdown of inmates by unit type was based on a randomly chosen daily count from TSDC on October 30, 2017. It was necessary to exclude inmates housed in protective custody on direct supervision units due to the inconsistency in number of hours of unlock that these inmates received during 2017. For a more detailed explanation of TSDC hours of unlock by unit, please refer to Appendix A. TSDC Case Study.
  • footnote[104] Back to paragraph Based on 156 (of 1,130) respondents who selected “alternative housing” as one of their top five choices of measures that contribute most to staff safety and their institution (Appendix B, Table B-4).
  • footnote[105] Back to paragraph Based on 206 (of 1,130) respondents who selected “more alternative housing” as one of their top five choices of additional measures that would most increase staff safety at their current institution (Appendix B, Table B-5).
  • footnote[106] Back to paragraph Correctional Services and Reintegration Act, 2018, Part V (received Royal Assent May 2018).
  • footnote[107] Back to paragraph Segregation refers to “any type of custody where an inmate is highly restricted in movement and association with others for 22 hours or more a day”.
  • footnote[108] Back to paragraph “Special management inmate” is defined in ministry policy as “an inmate who requires special care services, including physical, mental, and behavioural (i.e., those whose behaviour or potential behaviour could be harmful to the inmate or others which may require minimal contact with other inmates)”. See MCSCS, Institutional Services Policy and Procedures Manual: Inmate Management: General Inmate Management: Placement of Special Management Inmates (Government of Ontario, July 2018) at s. 4.16 (hereafter, MCSCS: Placement of Special Management Inmates).
  • footnote[109] Back to paragraph In October 2012, Christina Jahn filed a human rights complaint regarding her detention in segregation and receiving inadequate mental health care. In September 2013, the Government of Ontario agreed to settle Jahn’s claim, including ten public interest remedies. Between 2014 and 2016, MCSCS completed a range of reports and policy changes to fulfill the public interest remedies.
  • footnote[110] Back to paragraph Ontario Commission of Human Rights v. Ontario (Community Safety and Correctional Services), 2018 HRTO 60 (hereafter, OCHR v. Ontario).
  • footnote[111] Back to paragraph Ibid.
  • footnote[112] Back to paragraph MCSCS: Placement of Special Management Inmates, supra note 108.
  • footnote[113] Back to paragraph Ibid.
  • footnote[114] Back to paragraph French and Gendreau, Reducing Misconducts, supra note 11; Huebner, Inmate Violence, supra note 11.
  • footnote[115] Back to paragraph IROC, Interim Report, supra note 9.
  • footnote[116] Back to paragraph Bonta and Gendreau, Cruel and Unusual, supra note 30; Cullen et al., Prisons, supra note 30; French and Gendreau, Reducing Misconducts, supra note 11.
  • footnote[117] Back to paragraph Based on 39 (of 42) respondents from OCI​ who either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “I feel safe working at my current institution”.
  • footnote[118] Back to paragraph Based on 25 (of 40) respondents from OCI​ who indicated that they “never” worried about being assaulted by an inmate.
  • footnote[119] Back to paragraph IROC Institutional Violence Survey respondents were asked, “If you would want to work at another institution, please indicate which institution(s)” and “If you would feel safer working at a different institution, please indicate which institution(s)”.
  • footnote[120] Back to paragraph CNCC advised that the course introduces students to Microsoft Office, including Excel, and offers instructions on résumé writing and drafting business correspondence.
  • footnote[121] Back to paragraph CNCC advised that the course provides instruction on digital imagery and web design.
  • footnote[122] Back to paragraph Trilcor Industries provides work experience for sentenced inmates at four provincial institutions, Central East Correctional Centre, CNCC, Maplehurst Correctional Complex, and Monteith Correctional Complex.
  • footnote[123] Back to paragraph Major mental illness refers to a “primary diagnosis of psychotic disorder, major mood disorder, or major anxiety disorder”.
  • footnote[124] Back to paragraph The institution advised that there are an additional eight special purpose beds.
  • footnote[125] Back to paragraph Based on 703 (of 1,215) respondents who agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “the purpose of incarceration is rehabilitation and eventual reintegration”.
  • footnote[126] Back to paragraph French and Gendreau, Reducing Misconducts, supra note 11; Huebner, Inmate Violence, supra note 11.
  • footnote[127] Back to paragraph Based on 159 (of 1,130) respondents who selected “programming” as one of their top five choices of measures that contribute most to staff safety at their institution (Appendix B, Table B-4).
  • footnote[128] Back to paragraph Based on 186 (of 1,130) respondents who selected “additional programming” as one of their top five choices of additional measures that would most increase staff safety at their current institution (Appendix B, Table B-5)
  • footnote[129] Back to paragraph TSDC advised that it offered: one work program, three educational programs, 16 spiritual programs, and 24 general interest volunteer programs.
  • footnote[130] Back to paragraph Some of the volunteer programs currently being offered include: Alcoholics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Storybook Parents, Amadeusz, Literal Change, and Forgiveness Project.
  • footnote[131] Back to paragraph Note that this figure does not include inmates who were re-admitted over the course of the year.
  • footnote[132] Back to paragraph Note that there were “some additional clients doing college and university level work” but they were excluded from this tally “based on the assumption that credit based implied high school credits”.
  • footnote[133] Back to paragraph Figures exclude intermittent inmates typically housed in the Toronto Intermittent Centre.
  • footnote[134] Back to paragraph Currently, Life Skills and Change is a Choice are offered to inmates by TSDC. Life Skills educational sessions are used to provide inmates “with relevant information about criminogenic targets and behaviour”. There are 17 one-hour sessions covering topics such as substance use, anger management, goal setting, problem solving, use of leisure time, finding and maintaining employment, and budgeting. Each session “provides an overview of the topic including a general concept of the problem, its relationship to criminal behaviour, and options to address the problem”. The Change is a Choice series are “five 1.5 hour sessions offered to [inmates] that offer a more intensive overview of some of the Life Skills sessions.” Topics covered in this series include anger management, substance use, connections (cognitive behavioural therapy), and healthy relationships. Change is a Choice was not offered at TSDC in 2017.
  • footnote[135] Back to paragraph For example, see: James Bonta and D. A. Andrews, “Risk-Need-Responsivity Model for Offender Assessment and Rehabilitation,” Public Safety Canada (Ottawa, ON: 2007) (hereafter, Bonta and Andrews, RNR model); James Bonta et al., “The Strategic Training Initiative in Community Supervisions: Risk-Need-Responsivity in the Real World 2010-01,” (Public Safety Canada, Government of Canada, December 2015); Ministry of Justice, British Columbia Corrections Branch, “Strategic Training Initiative in Community Supervision” (Government of British Columbia).
  • footnote[136] Back to paragraph The Risk-Need-Responsivity (RNR) model is used by correctional authorities to help develop recommendations for how inmates should be assessed in order to receive treatment to target and reduce risks of reoffending. It is based on three principles: (1) the Risk principle: that criminal behaviour can be reliably predicted and therefore treatment should target high risk inmates – treatment should be matched to the risk the individual poses; (2) the Need principle: which focuses on the importance of assessing criminogenic needs and targeting them in treatment; and (3) the Responsivity principle: which describes how treatment should be provided in order to maximize the intervention – tailoring to the learning style, motivation, abilities, and strengths of the individual. For more information see: Bonta and Andrews, RNR model, supra note 135.