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Bringing clarity to the inner workings of our legal system

How do federal inmates get to lower security prisons?

There are three factors that Correctional Service Canada considers when deciding whether to classify an inmate as minimum, medium, or maximum security:

Institutional adjustment: this refers to the inmate’s behaviour while incarcerated, and CSC will consider

  • Violent incidents while in custody
  • Reports from staff about the inmate’s behaviour
  • Behaviour while in intake and provincial/territorial custody
  • Membership in any gang/criminal organization
  • Transfers to higher security prisons
  • Mental health issues
  • Etc.

Escape risk: this (obviously) refers to the risk of the inmate escaping, and CSC will consider

  • Convictions for escaping, being unlawfully at large, breaches of trust, etc.
  • Time on bail
  • Length of the inmate’s sentence and time to serve before eligibility for unescorted temporary absences
  • Successful periods of parole or statutory release, and successful temporary absences or work release
  • Outstanding charges or appeals, including immigration/deportation proceedings
  • Etc.

Public safety: this refers to the risk that the inmate poses to public safety, and CSC will consider

  • History of violence (including nature, gravity, and number of prior offences)
  • Past performance on temporary absences and work releases
  • Mental health concerns and emotional stability/instability
  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Affiliations with criminal organizations/gangs, terrorist organizations, or radicalized groups
  • Notoriety of the inmate

To get to a lower security prison, offenders need to lower their scores in these areas. A parole officer may recommend lowering one or more of these scores when an offender has had a prolonged period of good behaviour, completed programming, successfully completed a temporary absences or work release, participated in counseling or treatment, etc.

To get to medium security, an offender needs to have a low/moderate escape risk and a moderate public safety risk OR require a moderate degree of supervision and control in the prison.

To get to minimum security, an offender must have low scores on institutional adjustment, escape risk, and public safety.

Past performance is not indicative of future results, and outcomes will vary according to the facts of individual cases. This site is intended for information purposes only. None of the information on this site should be considered “legal advice.” Information on this website (including blog posts and answers to frequently asked questions) is the opinion of the author only and is not warrantied or guaranteed to be an exhaustive, definitive, or accurate statement of the law. The proper interpretation and application of the law must always be done on a case specific basis; therefore, you should not rely on the general information on this site as a substitute for proper legal research or the advice of a licenced lawyer.