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Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) issued the following statement on the issue of Sexual Coercion and Violence (SCV) in federal corrections:

“CSC has zero tolerance for any form of violence in federal corrections. The safety and security of people in our institutions is a top priority and nobody who lives or works in those facilities should ever have to fear for their safety.

The core mandate of our correctional system is to rehabilitate and safely reintegrate offenders into our communities. We focus on providing safe environments to support inmates in becoming law-abiding citizens. This is our fundamental responsibility.

The incidence of Sexual Coercion and Violence in our institutions is an issue that we take very seriously. We are taking a number of actions to address it and provide the necessary support to those in our care and custody, and we know there is more to do.

CSC is developing a standalone policy specific to SCV. We currently have various requirements related to SCV throughout a number of our policies; the new, dedicated Commissioner’s Directive specific to SCV will focus on the prevention of sexual violence and coercion by providing tools for staff and offenders, including addressing the reluctance of victims to come forward. We have also strengthened the language in our policy (Commissioner’s Directive 060 Code of Discipline) that reinforces to staff and offenders the obligation to report criminal allegations.

Offenders have a number of avenues to report inappropriate behaviours as either victims or witnesses, including the offender complaint and grievance system, which contributes to safer institutions by helping staff identify and respond to issues quickly. We are also working on increasing prevention and awareness through educational information in order to prevent these situations from occurring and ensuring inmates know how to come forward if they feel they are being victimized. Inmates also always have access to the Office of the Correctional Investigator’s (OCI). The OCI’s phone number is programmed into their phone accounts where they can confidentially place a call for assistance in these matters.

All Correctional Officers employed by the CSC are trained on inmate sexual assault, including what to do if this occurs and outlining their obligations to act in these types of situations. All allegations of sexual assault, violence or coercion must be reported and investigated. Employees, and specifically Managers, have an obligation to contact the police immediately regarding any incidents or allegations of misconduct that could constitute a criminal offence.

We track and monitor all employee cases of misconduct, and inmate cases of SCV. This data will help inform the development of evidence-based strategies to better work towards the prevention of SCV, especially for those who may be more vulnerable.

We know that more needs to be done to address SCV in our federal institutions. The CSC has been working in collaboration with Public Safety Canada and are in the process of engaging our partners in the International Corrections and Prisons Association and in the provinces to conduct research and learn from their practices. This will help strengthen our approach and response to SCV going forward.

We have been working actively and constantly to build a culture of respect, and environments that are free of harassment, discrimination and violence of any kind. Our employees are required to follow the law and CSC policies. CSC employees are expected to carry out their duties with utmost professionalism and consistently with the Service’s policies, professional code of conduct and code of discipline, and mission. We do not tolerate any breach of our policies and allegations are thoroughly investigated. If findings of misconduct are determined, a range of disciplinary measures can be taken, up to termination. For criminal matters, CSC fully cooperates with the police in their investigation.

We are committed to taking the necessary actions to strengthen our approach to this important issue. The safety and security of our institutions is key to successful rehabilitation of offenders and is fundamental to the work we do to uphold public safety.”