Corrections and Criminal Justice Policy

Public Safety Canada provides advice and support to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness on legislation and policies governing corrections and criminal justice, including:

Strengthening the federal correctional system:

The Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA) and the associated Corrections and Conditional Release Regulations establish the legal framework for the correctional and conditional release systems for federal offenders.

The Department works with the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) to provide a safe and secure environment for staff and inmates at federal correctional institutions. This helps rehabilitate and reintegrate offenders, reducing the risk of reoffending and keeping our communities safe. Public Safety Canada participates in the Heads of Corrections (HOC) forum, which provides leadership and direction to initiatives that enhance collaboration between federal, provincial and territorial governments (FPT) on correctional matters.

In 2019, the CCRA was amended to introduce Structured Intervention Units (SIUs). These units provide a safe living environment for inmates who cannot stay safely within a mainstream inmate population for security or other reasons. While in an SIU, inmates have the opportunity for meaningful human contact, and an opportunity to access programs and services that respond to the inmate’s specific needs and risks. The SIUs provide an opportunity for targeted interventions, programs and healthcare to support inmates’ safe return to the mainstream inmate population as soon as possible.

There is external oversight and monitoring of SIUs:

  • The Minister has established an external SIU Implementation Advisory Panel to monitor and assess CSC’s overall SIU implementation.
  • The Minister has also appointed Independent External Decision-Makers (IEDMs) who work at arms-length from CSC to, in certain circumstances, provide oversight and ongoing assessments of an inmate’s conditions and duration of confinement in an SIU. In certain circumstances, the IEDMs have binding authority to determine that an inmate should not remain in an SIU or order the conditions of confinement in the SIU to be altered.
International transfer of offenders:
Public Safety Canada is responsible for the International Transfer of Offenders Act (ITOA), which governs the transfer of Canadians imprisoned abroad who are seeking to return to Canada as well as foreign offenders in Canada seeking to return to their country of citizenship. The Department provides advice to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, who is the sole decision-making authority on requests for transfer. CSC is responsible for the implementation of the International Transfers of Offenders.
Independent oversight of the federal correctional system:
The Office of the Correctional Investigator (OCI) is mandated to act as ombudsman for offenders in the care and control of CSC and, as such, is a completely independent and autonomous agency. Public Safety Canada acts as the liaison between the OCI and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergence Preparedness. The OCI publicly releases annual and special reports, in which it makes recommendations for improvements to the federal correctional system.
Record suspensions (formerly known as pardons) and the release of suspended/pardoned criminal records:

Public Safety Canada is responsible for the Criminal Records Act (CRA) and associated regulations, which govern the record suspensions program. It works closely with the Parole Board of Canada (PBC), who administers the program, as well as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), who maintains the National Repository of Criminal Records.

An Act to provide no-cost, expedited record suspensions for simple possession of cannabis came in effect on August 1, 2019, expediting the record suspension process for people convicted only of simple possession of cannabis, eliminating the $644 application fee and the up to 10-year wait period. To learn more about the application process, Canadians can visit Canada.ca/cannabis-record-suspension.

High risk offenders:
Public Safety Canada is responsible for the Sex Offenders Information Registration Act and works closely with the RCMP, who administrates the National Sex Offender Registry. In addition, Public Safety Canada engages with provinces and territories on high risk offender matters, including participating in the Coordinating Committee of Senior Official’s High Risk Offender Working Group and administering the National Flagging System Class Grant Program.
Expungement of historically unjust convictions:
The Expungement of Historically Unjust Convictions Act allows for the permanent destruction of judicial records of unjust convictions. Learn about the eligibility criteria and how to apply for the expungement of one or more convictions. As the organization responsible for the Act, Public Safety Canada works closely with the PBC, the RCMP, the Department of Justice, and the LGBTQ2 Secretariat within the Privy Council Office.

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