Provincial institutions.
   
For inmates serving sentences in provincial institutions, the grievance process is somewhat different:
 
 
  • The inmate should try to resolve matters by talking with correctional staff.
  • If the problem cannot be resolved by involving correctional staff, the inmate must write to the Director of the institution.
  • If the inmate does not agree with the decision from the Director, he/she can file a complaint with the provincial Ombudsman.

External Grievance Procedures

  The Correctional Invrestigator.
   
Attempts were made in 1978 to instate a chief ombudsman for Canada, but the government was not interested in the idea of a federal ombudsman and so it has not been formally pursued again. Although there is no official federal ombudsman, the government has in place three 'specialized' federal ombudsmen. They are known as the Commissioner of Official Languages, the Privacy Commissioner and the Federal Correctional Investigator. It is the latter, the Correctional Investigator, that this paper will examine next.

The office of the Canadian Federal Correctional Investigator was established in 1973 and deals exclusively with the complaints of federal inmates across Canada. The current Correctional Investigator is Ron Stewart, who was appointed to office in 1977. The Investigator's role is to make recommendations based on investigative field work. The role of the correctional investigator is to receive, investigate and report on complaints by inmates, on his own initiative or on request from the Solicitor General of Canada. The Correctional Investigator is, in essence, an Ombudsman for approximately 15,000 federal inmates (Barrados & Chen, 1997, p. 2).

The office of the Correctional Investigator is located in Ottawa, with no branch offices in western Canada. However, the Correctional Investigator makes regular visits to more than 40 federal institutions. These visits are announced to the inmates, and private interviews are arranged for those wishing to speak to the Investigator. In 1996-97, 2,092 interviews were conducted (Correctional Investigator Canada, 1997, p. 19). The Investigator can also carry out unannounced visits to the penitentiaries at any time and has authority to perform an inspection of an institution. The Correctional Investigator also can "recommend changes to applicable law, practices or policies" (Barrados & Chen, 1997, p. 1).

An offender is not required to exhaust all internal avenues before turning to the Correctional Investigator, but it is suggested that the inmate first discuss the problem with correctional staff or pursue the internal grievance process. The Correctional Investigator prefers to be used as a last resort.


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