Prison expansion plans won't be effective long term: Auditor general

A corrections official walks through the maximum security Edmonton Institution, Jan. 10, 2011. The...

A corrections official walks through the maximum security Edmonton Institution, Jan. 10, 2011. The Federal government announced, Jan. 10, 2011, that the Edmonton Institution is among three federal prisons in Alberta and Saskatchewan that will undergo a $55 million expansion. (DAVID BLOOM/QMI AGENCY FILE PHOTO)

Jessica Hume, National Bureau

, Last Updated: 12:13 AM ET

OTTAWA — Lack of planning and oversight at Correctional Service Canada (CSC) means efforts to reduce overcrowding in prisons won't be effective in the long term, the auditor general says in a new report.

CSC wants to add 2,700 cells to 37 facilities by 2015 to try to reduce overcrowding — levels of which vary regionally — and increase efficiency.

Auditor General Michael Ferguson wrote the "CSC's updated population projection shows that it will again be at or over capacity within a few years of completing construction."

Ferguson also notes that some prisons aren't following some of CSC's own policies because of poor planning.

Double bunking, for example, is "a temporary measure that normally should only occur in approved areas and normally should not exceed 20% of the in-custody population."

But Ferguson found double bunking occurs 26% of the time in Ontario and the prairies — where prison populations are growing the most — and the practice is happening "in segregation cells and in cells smaller than five square meters, which is contrary to the intent of CSC policy."

Plans to expand facilities seem poorly planned, the report says.

Ferguson asked CSC officials for the information on which they based their decisions to expand, including assessments of the ages and conditions of the facilities, existing capacity pressures and the long-term effects of their expansion decisions.

"The officials were not able to provide us with these details and informed us that the primary factor for determining which penitentiaries to expand was the availability of land within the secure perimeters of existing institutions," the report says.


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