Corrections - Overview of Inmate and Offender Programs

Policies and Guidelines

Overview of Inmate and Offender Programs

The following information is a summary of Correctional Services inmate and offender institutional and community programs.

There are a variety of programs available to inmates and offenders who are sentenced in provincial correctional facilities or are under community supervision through probation and parole.

Correctional programming is designed to assist inmates and offenders to correct or change attitudes and behaviour related to their offending in order to hold them accountable, provide valuable work skills and work experience, and to promote community safety through effective rehabilitation and successful reintegration into the community.

Programs vary across institutions and in communities. Those interested in programs provided by Correctional Services are advised to contact the local institution or their probation and parole officer.

Correctional Services offers four main types of programming intended to affect positive inmate and offender behavioural change:

  • Life Skills
  • Rehabilitative programs to address issues such as substance abuse, anger management, etc.
  • Education and literacy
  • Workplace

Life Skills

Life Skills programs address a variety of healthy living needs through short, often one session programs. Life Skills programs are available to inmates at institutions and to offenders at probation and parole offices. These programs are delivered by trained ministry staff, contract agencies and volunteers. Life Skills programs include:

  • Core Life Skills, including budgeting, goal setting, problem solving, supportive relationships, dealing with gambling addictions and problem gambling, and substance use
  • Employment related sessions, including basic computer skills and job search techniques
  • Parenting

Rehabilitative

Rehabilitative programs address criminal behaviour and factors that can contribute to re-offending. These programs are available for inmates as well as offenders in the community and include programs for:

  • Anger management
  • Anti-criminal thinking
  • Substance use
  • Domestic violence
  • Sexual offending

There are different levels of rehabilitative programs for each of the five areas:

  • Orientation or introductory level programs
  • Intensive programs
  • Maintenance programs

Matching an inmate or offender to a program level is based on a number of things including their level of risk, motivation and legal status.  

Specialized treatment programs are one type of rehabilitative program to address specific offender criminogenic risk factor(s) – which are problems or issues of an individual that directly relate to the likelihood to re-offend. Treatment programs are available to address significant mental health issues, sexual offending, domestic violence and substance abuse, among others. These programs are offered to inmates at selected institutions where inmates can apply to attend, and where clinical staffing is in place. These specialized treatment programs are not part of the probation and parole service delivery model.

Education and Literacy

Education and Literacy programs are available to inmates through a variety of partnerships, including the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, community colleges, local school boards and community literacy organizations. Education programs are delivered by teachers, continuing education instructors, literacy instructors and ministry volunteer literacy tutors.

Offenders in the community should talk to their probation and parole officers about accessing adult education and literacy programs and services available to them in their local communities.

Individual Correctional Services’ educational programs are available for:

  • Individuals with no or limited reading and writing skills
  • Individuals working towards acquiring secondary school credits leading to a Grade 12 Ontario Secondary School Diploma
  • Individuals wanting to enroll in high school, community college or university correspondence courses, or prepare for the General Education Development (GED) testing program
  • Individuals interested in other education programs such as English as a Second Language

Limited Reading and Writing Skills

Adult Basic Literacy programs are provided to inmates and are delivered by literacy instructors employed by school boards, community colleges or community literacy organizations, or by trained ministry volunteer literacy tutors.

Working Towards Secondary School Credits

Inmates have access to high school credit courses delivered by qualified teachers employed by school boards.

High School, Community College or University Correspondence Courses, or Preparing for GED

A variety of self-study programs are available. Application and administrative fees and learning materials for these programs are paid for by the individual.

Other Education Programs

Programs such as English as a Second Language, other types of specialized language instruction and the Academic and Career Entrance Program, which is a high school equivalency program for adult learners, are available at some institutions.

Work Programs

Work programs are intended to provide practical skills in a real life environment in order to assist inmates to prepare for their return to the community.

All institutions provide work programs such as kitchen work, laundry, cleaning, landscaping and grounds maintenance, etc. Some institutions provide industry programs such as Cook Chill (the preparation and cooking of meals that then undergo rapid freezing for storage and distribution to other institutions), woodworking and carpentry, gardening, license plate manufacturing, metal fabrication and textiles.