Correctional Service of Canada takes concrete actions in response to Board of Investigation results

From: Correctional Service Canada

“I want to extend my heartfelt condolences to the family, friends, and communities affected by this terrible tragedy, especially during this difficult week as we approach nearly one year since Ms. Levesque’s death. This is not an outcome any of us ever want to see and I am deeply sorry it happened.

Public safety is our business. It must guide every decision we make in the supervision of federal offenders in the community. It is extremely rare that an offender on day parole commits a violent offence but when a tragedy like this happens, we must do everything we can to learn from it and take actions that prevent it from happening again.

I appreciate the work of the BOI for contributing their expertise, objectivity, and hard work to this process, especially during this public health pandemic. I take their findings very seriously and accept all of their thoughtful recommendations. We took time to review and analyze them closely and developed an action plan to implement them in their entirety. Our actions cover the following themes, as specified in the BOI: information collection and sharing, community supervision and training.

We have a direct supervision model in Quebec that has existed for over 40 years where, under contract, community partners play an active role in the supervision and rehabilitation of offenders. They provide accommodation and support to offenders, while a small number of them, like Maison Painchaud, directly supervise offenders on conditional release in the community. CSC is moving to change this direct supervision model and make it consistent with our practice across Canada. While CRF caseworkers will no longer directly supervise offenders in the community, these facilities will continue to provide accommodation to offenders. We value these partnerships, as they are essential to supporting offenders in their transition from institutions to the community.

Key actions include:

· Strengthening information collection and sharing: revising CSC’s Information Collection policy to clearly define a serious offence for the purpose of information collection, specify which types of documents are required and relevant to an offender’s history, and implement a formal monitoring mechanism.

· Increasing consistency and accountability by having a single community supervision model for federal offenders across the country:

· Currently, CRFs provide accommodation and support to offenders, while some directly supervise a small number of offenders (approximately 155 out of 2000) on release in the community, in Quebec. By March 31, 2021, CSC will take over all aspects of community supervision from the Maison Painchaud CRF. In addition, CSC is reviewing all other contracts in Quebec with the goal of returning all direct supervision responsibilities for federal offenders back to CSC. These contractors will continue to house offenders, as is the case across the country.

· Strengthening community supervision policies and tools: this will ensure that consistent elements, such as collateral contacts (employer, family members, etc.), are regularly discussed during case conferences between Parole Officers and their supervisors to help re-assess an offender’s risk.

· Implementing new, mandatory Intimate Partner Violence training: this will complement existing training and become a core component of the Parole Officer Continuous Development Training. It will be required for all Parole Officers and their supervisors to support them in assessing and managing the risk of offenders.

I want to be clear that CSC does not condone offenders seeking sexual services or strategies that support this. In my 37 years with the Service, I can firmly attest to the fact that this is not something that we, as an organization, endorse in how we manage offenders. I have made this clear throughout my organization and immediately following this incident, ordered a nation-wide review of all community supervision strategies, which revealed no other similar cases. I also directed staff to ensure that all of our supervision strategies are sound, appropriate, consistent with legislation and policies, and serve to protect public safety. We are held to a high standard, as we should be, and must ensure that we take every measure possible to strengthen and protect the communities we serve.

I know this case has had a profound impact on our employees and community partners, especially those in Quebec. These situations are extremely rare, in part, because of the work they do day in and day out to supervise offenders in the community. Having said this, something went tragically wrong in this case and we owe it to Canadians to follow due process and properly examine the circumstances specific to those directly involved in the supervision and oversight of this case. This will help determine any additional accountability measures that are required.

As Commissioner of CSC, I am resolute in my commitment to working closely with our employees, community partners, and unions to implement all of the recommendations as presented to us. I believe this will lead to important changes in how we supervise offenders and deliver on our mandate to keep our communities safe.”

Quick facts

· Under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA), all offenders in federal custody, including those serving a life sentence, are eligible for parole consideration at some point in their sentence. The purpose of parole is to contribute to public safety through the gradual, managed, and supervised release of offenders into the community. Public safety is the paramount consideration in all aspects of an offender’s conditional release.

· Instances of an offender committing a violent offence while on day parole are extremely rare. In 2019-2020, 99.9 percent of offenders on day parole completed their supervision period without committing a violent offence.

· CSC manages a population of approximately 12,600 inmates in federal institutions and approximately 9,400 offenders in the community, approximately 2,000 of whom are in Quebec.

· Currently, eight community residential facilities in Quebec perform direct supervision and house approximately 120 offenders in the community. In addition, L’Agence St-Laurent, directly supervises every month approximately 35 offenders who do not reside with them.

· A separate criminal investigation into Ms. Levesque’s murder was carried out by the Service de Police de Québec. This led to charges of first-degree murder. On February 27, 2020, the offender (Eustachio Gallese) was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years. He is currently in federal custody.

· This National Joint BOI process was guided by requirements set out in the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. In the spirit of openness and transparency, the five-person Board included two external criminologists, who co-chaired the investigation.

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