Corrections Canada doesn’t seem concerned by a 45-per-cent increase in the rate of escapes from penitentiaries over the past three years. The rate in the 2015-16 fiscal year was 1.23 escapes per 1,000 inmates, up from 0.85 three years earlier, according to a departmental plan for 2017-18 recently tabled in parliament (read it in full after the jump). The prison service says that “in spite of the increase in the rate of escapes during the last three years, the results are still meeting CSC’s target.” It demonstrates that, if you set your expectations suitably low, any achievement is acceptable. This isn’t the only non-success at the $2.5 billion a year penitentiary service. In this three-year period, the rate of “non-natural and undetermined offender deaths in custody” rose by 60 per cent.
Corrections also doesn’t appear too concerned about the substantial increase in the rate at which prisoners are dying “non-natural deaths.”
“When dealing with non-natural deaths in custody, escapes, or drugs in institutions, CSC’s objective is zero,” the service states, in the document. “It is necessary, however, to put that objective in the context of reality; therefore, CSC’s results are compared with those from previous years and in relation to its current operational context.”
In the past decade, a litany of reports from the office of the correctional investigator, coroner’s inquests and CSC’s internal investigations exposed chronic problems related to deaths in custody that required urgent attention. The correctional investigator has repeatedly criticized Corrections for failing to incorporate past lessons and failing to respond to key recommendations.
Here’s the section from the Correctional Service’s 2017-18 plan, revealing the increases in escape and death rates:
The department plan notes that the prison service’s 2017-18 spending is expected to be $2.57 billion. In the past decade, the budget of the federal prison service has ballooned by more than $1 billion, an increase of more than 60 per cent since 2005-06, when the Harper-led Conservative government came to power with a tough-on-crime agenda that put more people behind bars for longer sentences.
Here’s the complete department plan document for 2017-18: