CAB Report 2015 - Central North Correctional Centre

Community Advisory Board Annual Report
2015


Central North Correctional Centre

Penetanguishene, Ontario

March 31, 2016


Preface

Legislative Authority

Ministry of Correctional Services Act, Section 14.1, 2000, c. 40, s. 4.

“The Minister may establish a local monitoring board for a correctional institution, composed of persons appointed by the Minister.”

Principal Duties of the Community Advisory Board

• To satisfy themselves as to the state of the institution premises, the administration of the institution, and the treatment of inmates;

• To develop effective relationships with the superintendent and share minutes from the Board meetings;

• To inquire into and report back on any matters requested by the minister;

• To direct to the attention of the superintendent any matter they consider expedient to report; and

• To report to the minister any matter which they consider expedient to report, normally achieved through the Annual Report or through exceptional situation reports.

Overview of the Annual Report

One of the required functions of the Community Advisory Board (CAB) is to develop and submit an annual report outlining and describing the Board’s activities of the previous year. The report will also contain observations and recommendations to the Minister, Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS), on aspects of the operation of the institution.

The annual report is submitted to the minister, with distribution to the institution superintendent. The annual report or excerpts may only be made public with the approval of the minister.

Objectives of the Annual Report

The purpose of the annual report is to highlight the work of the CAB and to identify any areas of concern and/or support for the operation of the institution. The annual report should include observations, findings and recommendations in the following areas:

• Advice to the minister on any aspect of the operation of the institution;

• Any observations communicated to the superintendent regarding the operation of the institution;

• Advice provided to the minister and superintendent regarding a community or citizens perspective on the operation of the institution;

• Observations communicated to the minister and superintendent, regarding the treatment of inmates in the care of the institution;

• Observations on the state of the institution and the administration of the facility; and

• The establishment of cooperative and supportive relationships with the superintendent, managers and staff of the institution.


Objectives and Goals

The main objective of the CAB is to see the existing Board vacancy be filled in this fiscal year.  With a full complement of board members it allows the CAB to tour Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC) with increased frequency. The goal of the CAB is to increase the number of site visits to facility. This will allow us to provide the higher quantity of accurate, succinct reports for CNCC. 


Community Advisory Board Members

Chair: Malcolm (Mac) D. McKinnon, appointed April2 1, 2005, term April 19, 2016

Board Members:

Robert C. Haley, appointed April 1, 2005, term April 20, 2016
Melanie Marchand, appointed Aug. 2, 2007, term July 31, 2016
Timothy Vaillancourt, appointed Dec. 15, 2010, term Dec. 14, 2016
Michael Gagnon, appointed Aug. 2, 2007, term July 31, 2018


Overview of CAB Activities for 2015

Number of CAB Meetings: 9

Summary

The Community Advisory Board (CAB) meets at the Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC) monthly with the exception of July and August. Meeting attendees include the CAB, superintendent and Deputies of Administration, Operations, Programs, Finance and Staff Services. Meetings are operated under the Roberts Rules of Order. CAB members will present their site visit reports and the Senior Administration will discuss their monthly statistics. This is an integral part for the success of the CAB. It allows everyone to be on an even playing field. All questions the members bring to the table are either answered by the senior team immediately at the meeting or they will follow up at a later date. The facility reports are beneficial for CAB members to be updated to the status of the institution. 

Number of Site Visits: 16

Summary

There were 16 site visits conducted by the members of the CAB. On February 24th, 2015 two CAB members conducted a joint site visit. The facility has allowed our member’s unfettered access for tours of the institution regardless of time of day, although security concerns are always the priority. All areas of the institution were toured throughout the year. 

Board members raised concerns that many members of facility do not know about the function of the CAB, or who the appointed members are. Board members have had numerous opportunities to engage in conversations with both facility staff and offenders. This communication is vital for members to review operations and access additional information on the institution. Information that is important is annotated in the site visit report and discussed at the next regular CAB meeting. Interactions with staff are vital to get the correctional officers perspective on operations within the facility.   

Monthly Reports provided to the CAB: 54

Number of Reports/Concerns that Required Action: 11

Number of Concerns Directed to the superintendent: 11

Summary

Mould remediation and duct cleaning needed to be completed in many of the living units throughout facility. Dust and lint like material was found coating the air intakes and covered the upper wall areas. This is affecting the air quality on these living units.

A staff member who had recently transferred to CNCC had commented on the Incident Management System (IMS) procedures that are used at this institution. Part of IMS is to provide standardized terminology for use in various situations. It was stated that calling of the IMS code is different from many of the other provincial institutions. The staff member found the current format confusing.

Overcrowding in the medical unit has been a concern with staff and the CAB. On occasion male offenders are double-bunked or even triple-bunked. 

Health care staff have expressed to the CAB that they feel overworked dealing with their patient load and delivery of medications to the living units. Staff vacancies for nursing and mental health providers have been taking longer to fill in this calendar year. 

Health care staff expressed a concern about a proposed plan to move nurses on to the living units rather than having them stationed in the medical unit. This was a proposal by the senior team but no definite plan had been instituted at this time.

Overcrowding in the female unit is discussed further in this report.

Staffing levels at CNCC were down again this year. Staffing levels are considerably lower at this institution than other provincial institutions of similar size.

There is a high number of staff that are required to complete community escorts. If there is not sufficient staff for this assignment, staff members may be seconded, leaving some units short of correctional officers. When this occurs, areas are normally locked down to maintain an appropriate level of security. This past year has seen lockdown numbers rise due to staffing, searches and weapons threat assessments. Lockdowns effect the inmate’s ability to receive programming, family visitations and regular recreation time. The superintendent has instituted planned lockdown schedules which has been working well. This allows inmates to contact family members to arrange visitation around scheduled lockdown days.

During a tour of community emergency personnel, it was observed that a doorway from the cell area leading to the visitation area was found to be insecure. The CAB was advised that operational training had taken place earlier in the day in that area. CNCC committed to reviewing this concern and report back to the CAB.

During the emergency personnel tour, firefighters noted that sprinkler shutoff valves required a ladder to access in its current locations. Midland Fire Services recommended it would be more advantageous to acquire shutoff valves that can be operated by a chain/pulley mechanism. This would be more efficient and safer to staff.

Staff training had to be rescheduled during labour issues with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU). Staff training personnel had stepped down from their positions. Training will not take place until a collective agreement reached between the employer and the union.

A concern was raised that correctional staff conducting tours at CNCC to members of the public be provided scripting to ensure that messages are presented in a concise, professional manner.  This will ensure that the messaging is consistent no matter which staff member is assigned this task. 

Number of Concerns Directed to the Minister: None


Presentations and Training

Number of Presentations made to the CAB: 4

Summary

See notes below

Number of Training Sessions Completed: Four

Summary

The CAB received a presentation by two correctional officers on gangs that operated within our institution. This overview covered gang lifestyles, groups operating in the province, tagging, alliances between active gangs and tattoos used by criminal groups. These correctional officers have taken this presentation to local school groups as a crime prevention tool. This has been extremely well received by community stakeholders.

The CAB was given a procedural overview of the Inmate Trust Program at CNCC. This presentation covered how inmate funds were received, credited to and debited from the trust fund for offenders to access items such as snacks from the canteen. It also demonstrated the process involved on returning funds to released offenders.

A presentation was given on the handling of inmate property at the facility. Information included how inmate property is collected, secured and stored at CNCC. Discussions covered the location where personal effects are secured and procedures to provide property to offenders for court appearances or on release.

An in service presentation was provided on responses to a disturbance at CNCC in June. Video tape from the living unit where the disturbance took place captured the entire incident. Senior staff provided commentaries on their roles during this incident. The CAB was able to review the incident in real time with respect to staff deployment, the handling of offenders and a successful outcome to this situation.


Observations

The Operation of the Institution

CNCC is a well-run facility. The superintendent has selected a strong team of Deputies to assist him with the general operations of the institution. The senior management team communicates well with each other ensuring all necessary tasks are completed with a successful outcome. This dynamic synergy between the superintendent, Deputies and the correctional officer’s cadre makes this institution a leader within the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services. 

Staff have commented to Board members on their confidence with the Senior Administration Team at CNCC. This has certainly been demonstrated with lower than average employee issues than at other institutions of a similar size.  There is an excellent relationship with the Senior Team and local OPSEU executive. Through effective communication between these parties many issues are resolved with face-to-face meetings rather than having items being escalated to more formal hearings. This not only reduces manpower resources but it assists in maintaining a higher level of staff morale.

Institution Impact on the Community

CNCC is the largest employer in the Midland-Penetanguishene area after the Waypoint Mental Health Centre. Many of the correctional officers and support staff live in this area. Economic gains to the community is substantial. Staff living in neighbouring communities contribute to the local economy through residential tax contributions. Retail merchants benefit not only from purchases made by staff members but also with the awarding of supply contracts for trade and services to the facility. The administration tries to use as many local services as possible when sourcing out tenders for services. CNCC was listed last year in the top 50 employers in the County of Simcoe.

During the period of the OPSEU labour unrest, many CNCC employees elected to reduce personal spending in the wake of a potential strike.  Many larger purchases were deferred in case a strike was called. This impacted negatively on the economic viability of the local retail sector. Since the labour issues were resolved many staff members have now felt more comfortable in pursuing those larger household purchases. 

It is common to see correctional officers out in the communities whether on community escorts, travelling to and from work or observed in local stores. The correctional officers and staff always conduct themselves in a professional manner when in the public’s eye. Community stakeholders view our correctional officers and staff in high regard. Members of the CAB do not routinely hear negative criticisms about employees at this institution.

CNCC is able to connect with community partners through volunteer based programming. In 2015, 136 community volunteers provided 5869.34 hours to support the offenders at this facility. The scope of programing ranges from Alcoholics Anonymous, Library Services and an exciting pilot project pet therapy service to offenders identified with special needs. A review of this pilot project at the end of 2015 has resulted in a second year at the status of “pilot project” in order to further review and gather statistics and input on the benefit this service provides the offenders.  Volunteers through Chaplaincy deliver an Alpha Program, Prayer Circle, Ministry materials delivery cart and worship services provided by volunteer clergy.

Overall, CNCC has had some challenges maintaining volunteers from 2011 to 2014. The volunteer roster had been reduced by 47 individuals.  At the end of 2015 there had been a slight increase in volunteers by six individuals or 4.6 per cent from last year. Volunteer hours have also increased slightly by 3.1, per cent. This represents an 8 per cent increase in the actual number of visits to the institution. The total number of visits that volunteers made to CNCC this year is 1682. This shows the number of visits increased by 124 in 2015. 

Community work programs (CWP) have allowed offenders to provide services to municipalities like Midland and Penetanguishene. Work crews have been utilized to assist the Park and Recreation Department to enhance the beautification of parks and community gardens. The CWP has also been used to provide snow clearing and other custodial services on CNCC grounds and inside the institution.  This has helped to reduce some of the operational costs at CNCC. Grounds maintenance provided by the CWP, for example, enhances the look of the institution with regular grass cutting, flower beds being attended to and parking areas being kept clean.  It shows the community that this facility has a sense of pride and commitment.

Administration of the Institution

The CAB is briefed on a monthly basis by the senior management team on the status of operations at CNCC. Situation reports cover operations, finance, programs, staff services and administration. Each Deputy reviews their portfolio, highlighting events or occurrences in their area of responsibility. Monthly statistic sheets are provided to CAB members at the monthly meeting. This allows the CAB to identify spikes in trends within the facility’s operations. It also provides a level of transparency between the facility and community members. If there are questions on the monthly summary by the CAB, the senior management team are present to discuss their reports. This is an important component of the CAB meetings.

The senior management team must be commended for their commitment to providing these detailed summaries. It allows the CAB to get a “snap shot” on the operation of the institution.  The CAB receives clear and concise answers to any questions brought up during the meeting.  Staff are able to follow up with board members on information that is not available at the time of the monthly meetings. It must also be noted that there is a high level of trust and transparency between the senior management team and all members of the CAB.

The employees of CNCC have discussed on numerous occasions that they respect the senior management team.  They recognise their efforts to engage the correctional staff by conducting management tours of the cell areas.  These tours allow the management team to meet staff, answer questions and keep the lines of communication open.  This is another important role that the management team has implemented at CNCC to enhance the level of transparency. 

The Treatment of Inmates

The CAB has had an opportunity to visit this facility at all hours of the day and night. With unfettered access to CNCC, board members have had an opportunity to see staff dealing with inmates on a regular basis. At no time during site visits or observing community escorts, has a concern been brought up with regard to poor treatment of an inmate.  Staff interaction with inmates has been professional from the time of admission, during their incarceration and finally their release. 

It must be noted as well that while the CAB was observing the video the June 2015 disturbance, all staff members including Institutional Security Teams responded quickly and professionally in order to quell the disturbance without incurring serious injury or damage to the facility.  Emergency plans implemented by the management team were adequate to deal with this particular situation.


Summary of Concerns and Recommendations

There have been concerns about accommodation in a female offender unit. In the past year, offender counts have been constantly on the rise.  A review of female admissions at this facility averages out to 47 offenders being lodged in a 12-month time period.  This is well over the existing capacity of the female unit. In order to cope, female offenders were double-bunked and at times triple-bunked. The female segregation area and two female beds in the medical unit were also utilized to house the general population when counts were high.

Offenders serving intermittent sentences on weekends is a major contributor to high inmate counts. The segregation unit is normally operated at full capacity.  Another reason the female segregation area is operated at such a high capacity is that these cells are used to house offenders with mental health issues. The CAB is concerned about the overcrowding of offenders in the female offender unit. With counts increasing, a contingency plan needs to be formulated to manage this growth. The overcrowding of offenders leads to increased anxiety and frustration which could manifest into increased violence between inmates or staff.

The CAB recommends that additional space be assigned within the existing infrastructure or building a new separate structure that will accommodate excess female offenders.

Approximately 30 per cent of offenders incarcerated in Provincial Institutions are identified with having mental health issues. They need to be provided more support in a timely manner. Triage tools are being implemented at the time of admission to identify inmates with mental illness. Currently there are not enough resources, including mental health nurses or correctional officers trained specifically to deal with inmates with psychological issues.

The Ministry has mandated that mental health training be rolled out province wide to all correctional officers. Due to labour issues, that training initiative was delayed because of availability of trained instructors. It is the CABs understanding the training module was to teach correctional officers how to deal with mental health offenders and provide tools to enable correctional staff to de-escalate situations. When this training is delivered it will be seen as a good first step.

The CAB feels that more in depth education should be provided to staff in units with higher levels of mental health offenders in their custody.

At a recent meeting, CAB members were discussing the need to continue to educate facility staff of the existence of the CAB and their role at the institution. There is an increased frequency of staff questioning board members on their role and terms of reference during site visits. The superintendent has forwarded internal memorandums to staff about the CAB and its members. It seems that more direct information needs to be passed along to the rank and file members.

It is recommended that this information should be provided during Correctional Officer Training and Assessment training, and also in more detail when new staff members are oriented at their home institutions where CABs operate.

One area that concerns the CAB and has been discussed at several meetings, is offenders incarcerated at CNCC who have been diagnosed with serious mental health issues. In these cases, behaviour can escalate to the point where they are constantly attempting suicide, assaulting staff members or acting out in an inappropriate manner. These offenders need to have assessments at schedule 1 mental health facility. While offenders are incarcerated when their mental health capacity diminishes, it appears the current medical staff have difficulty treating them. Mental health resources are limited for individuals with extreme disorders.

In these situations, could referrals for a Form 1 assessment be made with a mental health facility such as the Waypoint Mental Health Centre, adjacent to CNCC? This would ensure individuals are receiving proper treatment with a wider range of medications, programming and supervision by trained mental health professionals in a hospital setting.

Media releases to the community are very slow to non-existent especially in the wake of good new stories at CNCC. The current protocol is that the ministry’s Communications Branch is tasked to provide new releases to local media outlets. All too often by the time communication personnel vet non-urgent but time sensitive news items, timelines may have expired.

Not enough good news stories are being disseminated in our local media. For example, CNCC donations to community partners is seldom recognized. Volunteer recognition events are another worthy item that should receive media attention. With increased media exposure, there is an opportunity to showcase positive stories rather than the ever mounting negative stories disseminated about Correctional Services.


Appendix

List of Attachments

Community Board Minutes: 9

Submitted March 31 2016

_____________________________________

Malcolm D. McKinnon, Chair


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May 31, 2016

Mr. Malcolm McKinnon
Community Advisory Board Chair
Central North Correctional Centre

Dear Mr. McKinnon:

Thank you for your submission of the 2015 Community Advisory Board (CAB) Annual Report for Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC).

We appreciate the time the CAB has taken to put together such a comprehensive list of recommendations for the ministry based on your observations at the institution over the last year.

I have reviewed your report and appreciate the thoughtful comments you have made about CNCC. Associate Deputy Minister Marg Welch will be responding in detail to all of the five meaningful recommendations you have made.  

We are grateful to have such a dedicated group of volunteers that work diligently to help us improve operations and transparency in our institutions. The ministry values your input and will be working on addressing the recommendations from the Annual Report. I look forward to working with the CABs in the coming year, moving this innovative program forward and continuing to engage local communities to a greater degree. Please accept my sincere thanks for your work in this critical role and producing a valuable annual report.

Sincerely,
Yasir Naqvi
Minister

c: Ms. Marg Welch
Associate Deputy Minister of Correctional Services


ADM_Corr letterhead.png

August 25, 2016

Mr. Malcolm McKinnon
Community Advisory Board Chair
Central North Correctional Centre

Dear Mr. McKinnon:

Thank you for your submission of the 2015 Community Advisory Board (CAB) Annual Report for the Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC). The Annual Report has been reviewed by ministry staff and we are already working on the recommendations outlined in your report.

As the Honourable Yasir Naqvi, former Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, noted in his acknowledgement letter to you, the ministry is committed to implementing your recommendations and to the ongoing development of this innovative CAB program.

The transformation of Ontario’s correctional system is a top priority. Work is underway to further address capacity pressures, develop additional supports for inmates with mental illness, reform the bail and remand system, and review our segregation policies. We will continue to work with all our correctional partners as we move forward with our mandate to transform our correctional system to develop effective and lasting improvements.

I am pleased to provide the following responses and next steps for the recommendations put forward in the CNCC CAB Annual Report.

Recommendation 1: The CAB recommends that additional space be assigned within the existing infrastructure or building a new separate structure that will accommodate excess female offenders.

The ministry continues to assess capacity needs to ensure that beds are available where they are most needed in the province.

CNCC is responsible for female inmates with varying supervision types including but not limited to remand, provincial sentences, police lock-up, immigration holds, and intermittent sentences. On admission, CNCC must ensure that females are classified properly and located in the appropriate units such as general population, protective custody, intermittent units or health care. In addition to these concerns, CNCC must also manage female inmates with mental health concerns such as suicide watches and self-injurious behaviours. CNCC continues to manage the number of female inmates admitted on a daily basis.

There are no plans to expand the female unit at CNCC. However, the ministry is currently investigating ways to meet the unique environmental and programming needs of adult female offenders, including those who require specialized mental health services.

Recommendation 2: The CAB feels that more in-depth education should be provided to staff in units with higher levels of mental health offenders in their custody. 

The ministry, in partnership with the Centre for Addiction & Mental Health (CAMH), developed a mental health training program for institutional services staff called the Understanding and Responding to Inmates with Mental Health Challenges.

As of July 29, 2016, 352 CNCC staff have received the Understanding and Responding to Inmates with Mental Health Challenges training.

Recommendation 3: It is recommended that CAB information should be provided during Correctional Officer Training and Assessment (COTA), and also in more detail when new staff members are oriented at their home institutions where CABs operate. 

As CABs are not in place at all institutions, they are not part of the COTA curriculum. Rather, the introduction to CABs form part of the site specific orientation/training. Institutions with CABs will have information on hand which outlines the role and responsibilities of the CABs.

At CNCC, information on the CABs can be found in the institution’s standing orders and in the CAB Terms of Reference. As well, CAB pamphlets, posters and a banner are currently being developed in consultation with CAB chairs.

Information on the CABs can also be found online on the ministry’s website as well as on the Public Appointment Secretariat website.

Recommendation 4: Inmates diagnosed with mental health issues: treatment at a mental health facility such as the Waypoint Mental Health Centre, adjacent to CNCC.

All ministry inmates have access to a variety of services and supports regardless of a diagnosis of a specific mental illness. At CNCC, inmates have access to a multidisciplinary mental health team which includes primary care physicians, psychiatrists, mental health nurses, social workers and counsellors.

Once they have been sentenced, all inmates are assessed at admission to find appropriate facility placement options. Male inmates who have mental health conditions may be placed at the St. Lawrence Valley Correctional and Treatment Centre. If an inmate meets admission criteria, the inmate may be transferred for treatment. As noted in recommendation 1, the ministry is currently investigating ways to meet the unique environmental and programming needs of adult female offenders, including those who require specialized mental health services.

Referrals from CNCC to Waypoint’s forensic mental health programs are accepted as per a long-standing agreement between the ministry and the mental health centre, only through the court system or under the jurisdiction of the Ontario Review Board. As part of the transformation of correctional services, the ministry is examining how we currently support inmates with mental illness and is looking to improve and enhance our policies and procedures.

Recommendation 5: With increased media exposure, there is an opportunity to showcase positive stories rather than the ever mounting negative stories disseminated about Correctional Services.

The ministry is supportive of media attending events which create good news stories about corrections.

The Communications Branch is developing a communication strategy that will aim to raise the profile of the positive contribution CABs make to the correctional system. An update on proposed communications activities will be provided at the CAB annual conference later this fall.

I appreciate the CAB indicating in its Annual Report the many CNCC success stories such as the impact that CNCC has on the economy in the Midland-Penetanguishene area, the excellent working relationship between senior management team and local union executive and the positive reception by the community on the gang presentation provided by CNCC staff to local school groups as a crime prevention tool.

Thank you for all of the hard work that went into the development of your recommendations for the ministry. As volunteer members of the Community Advisory Board, you have gone above and beyond to provide meaningful feedback on the operations at CNCC. Please be assured that the ministry values your input and recommendations. The ministry will be working throughout the rest of the year to address as many of your recommendations as possible. I look forward to your ongoing support as we move forward with this very important work.

Sincerely,
Marg Welch
Associate Deputy Minister, Correctional Services