The management of long term inmates in Canadian correctional institutions has been an issue of considerable importance in recent years. The ranks of long term prisoners have been rising slowly but steadily since the death penalty was abolished in 1976, and new strategies will have to be implemented to deal effectively with federal inmates serving sentences of ten years or more. In response to this concern, the Task Force on Long-Term Offenders submitted a report to the Correctional Service of Canada and the National Parole Board on February 23, 1997 which made recommendations on the implementation of the Life-Line program in federal penitentiaries, which is a strategy designed to improve long term prisoners' chances for success once released into the community. Other strategies designed to lessen the negative effects of imprisonment, such a those implemented by the five new federal institutions for women, which include mother-child programs and communal living arrangements, can also increase the potential for successful rehabilitation and reintegration of long term prisoners.
Because most long term inmates, including those serving life sentences, will eventually be released, it is in the best interest of the Canadian people to ensure that such programs are in place to combat the negative effects, as identified by the sociological research, that living in isolation can have on inmates. Research on the effects of incarceration is not conclusive, but the results of many studies point to the potential psychological harm that long term incarceration can cause. These findings are critical to policy makers who must decide how best to deal with long term inmates so that when they are released, they can return to the community as productive, law abiding citizens.