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Human Rights Compliance and the Role of External Prison Oversight

NCJ Number
Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice Volume: 48 Issue: 2 Dated: April 2006 Pages: 127-140
Ivan Zinger
Date Published
April 2006
14 pages
This article assesses the Correctional Service of Canada's (CSC's) compliance with international human rights standards for prisoners and proposes mechanisms that will increase the monitoring of and accountability for compliance with these standards.
At the Federal level, where there is an inmate population of approximately 12,500, the CSC receives nearly 23,000 complaints and grievances from prisoners every year. The Office of the Correctional Investigator (OCI) receives between 7,000 and 8,000 complaints annually. Since 1987, the OCI's annual reports have expressed concerns about the effectiveness of the CSC's internal grievance process. These statistics and related reports do not show an offender population that is housed and managed in accordance with model human rights law and policy. Stronger external oversight is required to change the CSC's often ineffective, bureaucratic, and costly response to inmates' human rights grievances. At the provincial level, ombudsman offices receive a large number of complaints from inmates, indicating a widespread human rights problem throughout correctional facilities in Canada. These problems persist and have even intensified over the years because correctional services do not designate a separate entity within its organizational structure that has the authority to develop regulations on human rights in the management of offenders, monitor their implementation, and hold managers and staff accountable when they do not comply with these regulations. Such reform would make it clear to staff and managers what is expected of them and what will be monitored, rewarded (job appraisals and performance pay where applicable), and subject to disciplinary action. 5 notes and 20 references