ARCHIVE - PHYSICAL INFRASTRUCTURE—YESTERDAY'S INFRASTRUCTURE DOES NOT MEET TODAY'S NEEDS
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We asked CSC to conduct a preliminary review of the cost benefits associated with the development of regional complexes versus making improvements to its current infrastructure, or maintaining the status quo. We asked Deloitte-Touche to review these cost estimates, particularly in light of the limitations imposed by time constraints and limited consultations. We believe that this initial information supports further investment to examine new approaches to facilities design and construction that provide increased opportunities to deliver more effective and efficient correctional services in safe, secure environments. The following chart looks at the two key issues impacting on current facilities, proposals to look at the operational and cost benefits of moving to a 'regional complex model.'
As the Panel toured a sampling of Canadian penitentiaries, we were impressed with the commitment of staff working in inadequate conditions. Many federal penitentiaries were built for a single homogeneous offender population. The Panel saw penitentiaries built in the 1800s and early 1900s where attempts had been made over the years to adapt them to the current realities. Other penitentiaries built in the mid-1900s reflect the correctional management philosophy of that era but assumed that all inmates could function as a homogenous group. There is even one penitentiary in which the cells lack toilets, so staff must release inmates individually to use the common facilities. (See a listing of federal penitentiaries by Region and Security Level in Appendix A.)
Irving Kulik, Executive Director of the Canadian Criminal Justice Association further describes the problem:
'Patching' has often been done in most existing CSC facilities, while in others some new units were added to the old, thus disrupting operations for years. In the end, few modern, functional and efficient institutions have been built in the last two decades. Old facilities are expensive to maintain and so when other budgetary considerations come into play, maintenance is delayed. Inevitably the organization has a huge collection of decaying buildings incorporating elements of new construction in an inefficient fashion.56
While the more modern facilities reflect more current thinking around correctional management, they are built on a model that assumes all individuals are able to function responsibly. This approach is proving to be problematic as CSC statistics indicate that inmate assaults occur in both maximum- and medium-security penitentiaries.
As indicated earlier, the multiplicity of subpopulations cannot be mixed, either because of their incompatibilities (i.e., gangs) or their vulnerabilities (i.e., mental illnesses).
The Panel has seen inconsistent institutional layouts that create significant discrepancies in how services are delivered. Of significant concern is how the physical layout of certain institutions creates environments that are very challenging for staff to interact with inmates in a manner that gives the proper balance of static and dynamic security. Some layouts make it difficult for CSC to provide an overall safe environment for staff.
On a practical level, many older institutions have "blind spots" or areas where the staff do not have a direct line of sight to offender activities. Consequently, there is high potential for assaults on staff or other offenders. Trying to rectify this situation in existing institutions, however, requires either very expensive construction in limited space, or a more expensive staffing option if construction is not possible.
The Panel has also noted that in some institutions the layout of control posts is not conducive to providing optimal security within certain living units. While staff and management at the local level try to identify workable solutions, it becomes a distraction to delivering effective correctional services and sometimes becomes a divisive issue between frontline staff and management.
Given all that the Panel has heard about the changing offender profile and the level of inmate-on-inmate assaults at the medium-security level, the Panel is concerned with achieving a proper balance between dynamic and static security within any newly built correctional living unit. The safety and security of staff and offenders is paramount, but if the balance is tilted towards static security a void is created between correctional staff and inmates, which is not conducive to the proposed integrated correctional management process. Equally, an environment that does not allow for the proper containment of a situation jeopardizes the safety of everyone. The Panel was surprised at the lack of barriers in some of the new medium security units that it saw at Springhill and Collins Bay. New penitentiaries must be designed to allow CSC to manage each population separately. This requirement was supported by UCCO-SACC-CSN who, in their brief to the Panel, stated:
Ideally, new construction would…give CSC the ability to physically separate the inmate populations according to their security classification and commitment to their correctional plan.57
The Panel recognizes that CSC has tried to address these shortcomings by renovating or replacing construction over time; however, the reality is that the Service's construction budget is not sufficient to address these issues in all institutions in a timely manner. As well, the continued tinkering with existing infrastructure within the confined space of existing facilities often unintentionally creates other issues or concerns.
While the physical infrastructure within the walls/fences is problematic, the Panel noted other factors that impact negatively on the delivery of effective correctional services. For example, the location, or more specifically, the isolation of certain penitentiaries from other institutions within a region makes it extremely difficult to capitalize on approaches to manage the diverse challenges presented by the offender population. If a penitentiary is having difficulties with a certain group or category of offenders, it is difficult to combine resources within a region when the facilities are separated by hundreds of kilometres. In a crisis situation or when there's a need to access professional services at a different institution, the geographical separation of the penitentiaries creates a unique set of problems.
It is clear to the Panel that the geographical separation of penitentiaries within a region does not allow for the implementation of a more effective and efficient correctional planning model. Currently, when an inmate is transferred from one penitentiary to another, there is no seamless continuum of care in place. In many cases, staff at the receiving penitentiary must re-start elements of the correctional planning process and valuable time is lost in managing the offender's sentence.
The Panel is also convinced that, by having a physical infrastructure strategy that maintains an approach of separation, economies of scale are lost by replicating identical management, administrative and operational structures in 58 penitentiaries across the country. While these approaches are necessary given the current approach and location of institutions, CSC cannot realize cost savings and reallocation opportunities through a more consolidated approach.
The Panel has heard from CSC how the shortcomings mentioned earlier could be addressed by building regional complexes across the country and moving away from a construction philosophy that relies on stand-alone facilities.
Discussions with the Panel centred around the fact that if CSC could utilize a regional complex approach to the construction of its institutions, a more effective correctional management strategy can be put into effect that addresses many of the concerns identified earlier.
Overall, a regional complex would comprise minimum-, medium- and maximum-security accommodation areas, appropriately separated within a common perimeter fence but sharing common services and/or space at different times. For example, common programming or vocational skills development space could be accessed separately by different segments of the population or food services could be provided from a common preparation unit.
The idea of complexes is not foreign to CSC. In its travels across the country, the Panel saw examples where quasi-complexes were already either in existence or underway (i.e., Ste. Anne des Plaines, Saskatchewan Penitentiary, Pacific Institution Regional Treatment Centre, although integration of management infrastructure, sharing of common services, etc. still operated in silos.
A regional complex approach would provide an opportunity to more effectively and efficiently manage larger groups of inmates and use a larger pool of resources to address the needs of the inmates in a more targeted manner.
The Panel has also noted that there needs to be a better targeted use of program resources and questioned the appropriateness of trying to offer many core programs at maximum security. A complex would certainly allow for a better concentration of staff to deliver select, targeted programs to offenders. It is reasonable to assume that waiting lists for programs could be reduced and that offenders would no longer have to wait, as they do in certain cases, to be transferred to another penitentiary before being able to access a program.
The Panel also sees the potential for being more effective in eradicating drugs from entering a complex. With four or five penitentiaries within one perimeter, CSC could invest in relatively sophisticated equipment to screen not only people but also vehicles entering the compound. Also, drug detector dogs could be used much more effectively as well.
Instead of groups of inmates with the same classification level being housed in institutions with capacities ranging from a few hundred to 500-600 offenders, a regional complex could house between 1500 and 2000 offenders. A regional complex would also be able to provide appropriate and separate accommodation for offenders at various security levels but provide a common management team to oversee the correctional plans and progress of offenders through their incarceration.
Resource utilization within a regional complex could be better maximized allowing CSC to easily shift specific capacities around within a common penitentiary perimeter without transferring inmates from a penitentiary in one city to one in another. This factor in itself would avoid unnecessary costs associated with transferring inmates, the gaps that are created by having a new case management team assume responsibility for an offender every time he/she is transferred, and worrying about having to duplicate an array of programming responses in each and every penitentiary, despite its size.
A significant advantage of a regional complex design is the ability to reinforce an overall correctional management model that stresses offender accountability to follow their correctional plans. No longer would CSC have to keep moving offenders between facilities within a province or across the country. Offenders would usually be maintained and managed within the complex but their overall location within the complex would be dictated by their motivation and participation in their correctional plans. Services and resources would be aligned within the complex based on inmate participation and motivation.
A regional complex would also provide an opportunity to focus resources to deal with distinct segments of the population or the distinct needs of segments of the population. For example, inmates who require ongoing physical health care needs could be housed in regional health care units thus avoiding high costs associated with prolonged stays in community hospitals. As well offenders with mental health care needs would have better access to services that are located in one facility and not thinly spread out between several penitentiaries.
This design would also provide an opportunity to more consistently address problems associated with having segregation units in every maximum- and medium-security penitentiary across the country. A common segregation unit within a complex would provide a more consistent approach to managing the behavioural problems that a small segment of the inmate population regularly presents. Common approaches by properly trained staff could provide a safer and more effective alternative to the smaller segregation units, which are not staffed properly, to motivate inmates to modify their behaviour in a positive way.
Furthermore, since the offender would, as a norm, remain in the same regional complex during the sentence, the potential of maintaining important family ties increases. This is noted by the Canadian Families and Corrections Network:
Complexes [should] be encouraged because of their potential to affect the geographical dilemma faced by families, to incorporate or address family quality of life issues and relationship maintenance need and to improve potential community support during reintegration.58
Although CSC has not had an opportunity to thoroughly identify overall cost savings associated with moving to a complex design approach, both the Panel and CSC believe this new approach would result in cost savings.
To validate the hypothesis as much as possible, the Panel contracted with Deloitte & Touche to independently estimate the costs of constructing and operating a new regional complex facility versus the status quo.
Overall, Deloitte & Touche concluded that although a significant level of rigour has been applied to developing several aspects of the cost estimates and that this has been conducted in a manner consistent with CSC's methodologies and practices, it may be possible that the analysis is overly weighted towards "business as usual." That is, although the capital, operating and lifecycle estimates are consistent with CSC methodologies, they may not represent the most advanced thinking, such as that available from other departments (for procurement timelines), jurisdictions or third- party advisors. The underlying assumptions for the analysis may be considered reasonable only to the extent that CSC baseline data and standards (such as resource indicators) are reasonable. In many respects, the complex may be considered a transformational business model, potentially requiring new operating approaches and standards. (See Appendix F for complete report).
- The Panel recommends that CSC pursue undertaking capital and operating investments in a new type of regional, penitentiary complex that responds to the cost-efficiency and operational-effectiveness deficits of its current physical infrastructure.
- The Panel recommends that CSC develop a 'project development proposal' for consideration which takes into account the recommendations of Deloitte's October 4, 2007 Independent Review of the cost estimate for the construction and operation of a new corrections facility which was commissioned by the Panel.
- The Panel recommends that in the interim, CSC institute clear criteria to minimize authorization of retrofit projects.
58 Submission to the CSC Review Panel, Canadian Families and Corrections Network, May 23,2007, page 4.
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