As time progressed, a higher degree of incentive for inmates was sought, and the creation of remission for good conduct occurred, known as "time off for good behaviour." By demonstrating good behaviour and participating in institutional programs, inmates today could earn up to 15 days of remission off his or her sentence every month.
In the early days of imprisonment, inmates had no rights other than to be held in custody without being wilfully put to death and to be released upon expiration of their prison terms. All of an inmate's civil rights were extinguished upon being incarcerated (Gosselin, 1982). The offender's stay in prison was to be as unpleasant as possible, for it was only right that he should live a life inferior to the "poorest free man" (Calder, 1985, p. 298). This attitude toward inmates most likely developed due to criticisms from the public who believed that prisoners led a better life than many other individuals.
Today's inmates have more rights. Rights are guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The rights specified under the Charter have the greatest degree of procedural safeguards of all rights given to inmates (Correctional Service of Canada, 1997). The Charter outlines rights pertaining to the freedom of conscience and religion; freedom of expression; freedom of peaceful assembly; freedom of association; life, liberty and security of the person; protection from arbitrary detention and imprisonment; reasons for detention; right to counsel; validity of detention; protection from cruel and unusual treatment or punishment; equality; and language.
The Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA) also guarantees certain rights to inmates. These rights include: the right to safe and humane custody; the right to be dealt with in the least restrictive way; the residual rights which are those of any member of society, except those necessarily restricted or removed by virtue of incarceration; the right to forthright and fair-decision-making and to an effective grievance procedure; the right to have sexual, cultural, linguistic and other differences and needs respected; and the right to participate in programs designed to promote rehabilitation and reintegration (Working Group on Human Rights, 1997).