One of the management techniques used has been termed “time framing.” Inmates who demonstrate the motivation and interest are encouraged to embark on a training or education program geared to qualify them to perform a certain function within the institution. Part time study while working at a regular inmate job is another option. Inmates could also be trained as institution hospital orderlies and inmate jobs could be developed to provide service aids or resource people to augment the services otherwise provided by CSC staff. Interviews with inmates convicted of second degree murder are serving life sentences almost unanimously identified education as one of the most important needs of lifers. These inmates clearly indicated that learning a trade can be a way for lifers to challenge themselves, to have something to look back on with satisfaction and to get involved in something that has immediate rewards. There are major obstacles to overcome, however. Inmates must somehow be convinced to trust the system and the staff. Some politicians and groups argue that we should abolish inmate post-secondary education. However, others such as Edward Parker, an inmate of 20 years, stated that those who ultimately complete university (with a bachelors or masters degree) spend between 6 and 10 years working extremely hard to reach these academic goals. This type of commitment should illustrate the value of college programming as a rehabilitative tool (Parker, 1996).

Many inmates realize that idleness may become their worst enemy and take on a different attitude. An opportunity should exist for program enhancement whereby such roles as tutors, mentors, coaches, teacher aids or peer counsellors are a foreseeable opportunity for lifers. Lifers are known to provide a stabilising effect and they often influence other inmates in the penitentiaries. These offenders often act as the unit representative or inmate-staff liaison. They represent a stable and dependable workforce for CORCAN, which is a federal corrections initiative. CORCAN was created in 1980 to serve as the production arm of the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC). Lifers also involve themselves in public education, community awareness and community projects (Correctional Service of Canada, 1996). It has been suggested that the possibility of conditional release is the only thing that provided hope and motivation to change (D’Arcy, 1997).

The Lifeline Project, operated by St. Leonard’s House in Windsor, Ontario, represents one concrete attempt to provide an inmate management program that addresses the specific needs of both lifers on full parole and those still incarcerated. Started in 1982, the Lifeline Project is a long term initiative aimed at giving lifers new hope in the form of guidance, programs and, eventually, a halfway house designed to meet their particular needs. The program has also been a response to what some of its supporters maintain is a major issue concerning management of the growing population of inmates serving life sentences who are rapidly reaching their parole eligibility dates. Lifers could represent about two in five inmates by the end of the decade. This situation presents a problem that communities are going to have to recognize soon: an increasing number of lifers are being paroled after long periods behind bars, ill-equipped to meet the challenges of living on the outside.