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Manitoba Auditor General: Report on adult corrections, in full

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[Edit, note on March 20, 2014: I erroneously assumed the AG's findings, presented below, were the full meal deal on the Adult Corrections departmental audit. This was incorrect. The full, full report is embedded below. Thanks to collegue Bruce Owen for the correction and the link. -- JT.]  

So, the auditor general of Manitoba dropped this today. I highly reccomend reading it in full.

Special attention required in section on "adult offenders in the community" section. 

Among the biggest concerns among the many raised that I can see: "In 2012, citing unmanageable workloads, the Department reduced offender supervision standards in 3 regions, allowing staff to meet less frequently with offenders and for shorter periods of time than would otherwise be required."  

Or:

In general, the Department had no means of determining if rehabilitation programs were achieving positive outcomes for offenders. Tracking of program offerings, enrolments, completions, and outcomes was limited and, in some cases, non-existent. (H/T Mike McIntyre)

From the report:  

"Chapter 6: Managing the Province's Adult Offenders

The Department of Justice manages approximately 10,000 adult offenders. About 24% are in provincial correctional centres; the other 76% are supervised in the community. The audit examined how adequately the Department managed adult correctional centre capacity, adult offenders in the community, adult rehabilitation programs, and related public performance reporting.

The audit found that the Department's management of its adult correctional centre capacity was inadequate for its long-term needs. Although it had increased capacity by 52% since 2008, overcrowding in centres was on-going; offender population forecasts were not always reliable; there was no comprehensive long-term capital plan to address either the forecast bed shortfall or the deterioration in aging correctional centre infrastructure; and initiatives to help reduce bed demand required greater attention.

There were also problems in managing adult offenders in the community. While the Department had a number of policies in this area, the audit found that offenders were not always adequately supervised; their rehabilitation plans needed improvement; supervisors were not regularly reviewing staff's work to ensure it complied with standards; and management had reduced offender supervision standards in 3 regions to resolve workload issues.

In addition, there were gaps in planning and monitoring adult rehabilitation programs, and limited public information provided on how well the Department was managing its adult offenders.

Taken together, these issues affected the Department's contribution to public safety and reduced the likelihood of successful offender rehabilitation.

A more detailed listing of findings in each area follows:

Adult correctional centre capacity

The Department was struggling to deal with a growing offender population. The overall occupancy rate in correctional centres on May 15, 2013 was 126% (and ranged from 110% to 145% in different centres) - even though the Department had increased capacity by 52% since 2008, adding 651 beds at a cost of $182 million. Measures to accommodate overcrowding (such as double-bunking, triple-bunking, and adding dorm-style bunk beds in space previously used for recreation and treatment programs) had several negative impacts, such as restricting offenders' access to rehabilitation activities and increasing security risks.

The Department's system of ad hoc capital planning was inadequate for its needs. It had no system-wide, clearly defined accommodation standards and the rated capacity of centres was determined subjectively. Offender population forecasts were not always reliable or sufficiently detailed for management purposes. There was no comprehensive long-term capital plan to address the shortage of 2,744 beds anticipated by 2019/20, the deterioration in aging correctional centre infrastructure, or the likely significant costs. And the Department did not use a rigorous or transparent process in the recent selection of a new correctional centre site.

The Department also needed to give greater attention to initiatives with the potential to reduce bed demand, such as those reducing the average time to trial and case disposition, diverting offenders with drug and mental health problems to treatment programs, and supporting lower risk offenders in meeting bail requirements.

Adult offenders in the community

The Department had a number of policies in place for managing offenders in the community, but they were not always embedded in operational practice. There was a lack of effective and consistent supervision of offenders, affecting the Department's contribution to public safety. And deficiencies in case management decreased the potential effectiveness of offenders' rehabilitation plans.

While risk assessments were prepared for all offenders in the files examined, 34% of those completed in the community were late, causing some offenders to initially receive less supervision than they otherwise would have. In several cases, probation officers were not scheduling on-going meetings with offenders as frequently as required by Department policy for offenders' risk profiles. They were also sometimes inconsistent in monitoring offenders' conditions (such as attendance at programs), verifying offenders' self-reports about compliance, and responding to offender non-compliance. Case management plans were present in only 63% of the files examined; were not always done within required timeframes; and often lacked meaningful or measurable goals, specific planned interventions, or timeframes for achieving these. And supervisors were not regularly reviewing staff's work to ensure it complied with standards.

In 2012, citing unmanageable workloads, the Department reduced offender supervision standards in 3 regions, allowing staff to meet less frequently with offenders and for shorter periods of time than would otherwise be required. Tracking additional data related to caseloads and the use of probation officers' time would improve the Department's ability to assess workload reasonableness.

Adult rehabilitation programs

The Department offered various adult rehabilitation programs through its correctional centres and community supervision offices, but gaps in the planning and monitoring framework for these programs hindered their potential effectiveness. The Department had started to provide more consistency and central direction, but more work was needed to identify offender needs and then align rehabilitation programs accordingly. The Department also needed to work with Aboriginal stakeholders to ensure that rehabilitation materials were culturally appropriate and met the unique needs of Aboriginal offenders, who accounted for about 60% of the adult offender population. And inter-agency coordination needed strengthening, particularly for shared, very high-risk clients.

In general, the Department had no means of determining if rehabilitation programs were achieving positive outcomes for offenders. Tracking of program offerings, enrolments, completions, and outcomes was limited and, in some cases, non-existent. And a broader range of recidivism measures about the level of re-offending was needed for management purposes, including tracking results over longer times, for specific programs, and by offender risk categories.

Public performance reporting

The Department provided little public information on its management of adult offenders. This limited the ability of legislators and citizens to assess the results being achieved. Some jurisdictions reported much more information, particularly on overcrowding levels and impacts, and rehabilitation programs and outcomes."

Chapter 6 Managing the Provinces Adult Offenders Web

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