The previous table shows that Correctional Services complaints rank high in terms of number of complaints. Of the 119 Correctional Services complaints received in 1997, and the 26 previously opened files, 124 files were closed in 1997. These figures, however, can be misleading, as many files in relation to Correctional Services are not investigated at all. Some are passed along down another avenue of appeal, and others are pushed forward into the following year. Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done to speed up the process. The average file takes 2 to 3 months to close, but, some files have been open for as long as 25 months. For an inmate, this could mean that they are released before a resolution is reached.

The following are examples of complaints from provincial inmates found in the 29th Annual Report of the Office of the Alberta Ombudsman;

Two inmates were refused access to a toll-free 1-800 number while incarcerated. One inmate was attempting to contact a lawyer who had set up the toll-free access for clients. The second inmate wanted to contact some family members who were hearing impaired and needed to access the 1-800 Relay Service number which is designed to assist people with this type of problem. Investigation determined this denial of the toll-free numbers was unfair. Recommendations were made to and agreed to by the Department to allow access and develop policy not only to these two issues but to all 1-800 number requests.

A federal inmate serving four and a half years was transferred from a federal institution to a provincial correctional centre (the Centre) under the Exchange of Services Agreement. Upon arrival at the Centre, based on a criminal background, the "historic practice" of a 90-day assessment for serious drug offenders was imposed. This meant the inmate would only be able to receive glass visits during that time period. It was argued that this was an internal method of controlling drugs being brought into the Centre and has worked quite effectively for years. A review of the policies and the legislation found no authority for the director to impose a 90-day assessment upon an inmate prior to that inmate having contravened any internal policy and procedure, rule or regulation within the Centre. As a result of this investigation, the Director immediately removed the unwritten policy. All inmates at the Centre now have the same privileges in accordance with policy and procedure guidelines. This change affected 17 other inmates as well. (Office of the Alberta Ombudsman, 29th Annual Report, 1995, p. 20)


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