"They’ve provided us with helpful advice on where to focus our efforts in terms of reducing the number of individuals entering the corrections system and reducing recidivism through support for community integration," Swan said in a statement.
The rate of mental illness among inmates was identified as an area of concern by the review committee. In the months ahead, Manitoba Justice will be working on enhanced mental-health programming, Swan said.
He also said Manitoba Justice will create an advisory group to look at future planning for correctional facility construction.
It will focus on creating safer work environments for staff and ensuring that inmates get the programming they need to succeed in the community upon release.
Recommendations of the Adult Corrections Capacity Review Committee report on the Dauphin Correctional Centre and other issues such as bail reform, gangs and treatment of mentally ill offenders:
1) the Dauphin Correctional Centre is well beyond its structural usefulness, and needs to be replaced.
2) the situation of those awaiting trial in the North especially in Thompson needs to be addressed.
3) a reduction in the use of remand custody should free up space for sentenced offenders given the possibility of an increased provincial custody population with the reduction in conditional sentences predicted as a result of Bill C-10. With proper management in the community of more of those awaiting trial, new beds should not be necessary if the number of sentenced offenders incustody increases.
4) we are not convinced that the approach of locking up on remand a large majority of those charged with offences is the best one to take. We are, however, convinced that it is the most expensive one. It is the committee’s firm view that no expansion of prison beds for remand offenders should be undertaken unless and until all alternatives have been explored, including appropriate cost analysis.
These alternatives include community risk management, bail support and supervision and other similar programs along with methods for greater efficiency in the court process.
5) we recommend that Manitoba Justice re-examine the recommendations from the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry and the subsequent AJI implementation commission to see what may be done to assist in reducing the number of Aboriginal offenders in Manitoba Correctional Centres.
6) we cannot expect prisons to solve the problem of why there are more female and Aboriginal female offenders coming into the system. This requires abroader approach to the issues that are bringing increasing numbers of women, n particular Aboriginal women, into conflict with the law and into custody.
7) it is the view of the committee that the best strategy for dealing with gangs is to work to reduce the reasons for their existence in the first place. This would include addressing the factors of economic and social marginalization while providing opportunities for developing a sense of belonging to the wider society through community development, education and job training. These are complex issues and those which imprisonment will not resolve nor is it correct in any sense to expect it would.
8) there is a need for other government departments and agencies that deal with our mentally ill offenders such as Manitoba Health, Manitoba Family Services and Housing, to work with Manitoba Justice and the Canadian Mental Health Association/Manitoba branch to develop an integrated approach to community based service delivery for mentally ill offenders.