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Statistics from the Office of the Correctional Investigator in Canada show that nearly 8,000 complaints are lodged annually by individual prison inmates. It is the duty of the Correctional Investigator -- a specific career in the Canadian justice system -- to handle each complaint and deal with it accordingly. The job of Correctional Investigator is one of power, influence and responsibility that can influence Canadian prison policies and the ways that Canadian prisoners are treated.
Appointment and Background
As noted by the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, a correctional investigator is appointed in his or her position by the Governor in Council to a first term of no longer than five years. Based on the qualifications of Howard Sapers, the Correctional Investigator since 2004, a future candidate for correctional investigator will benefit from a university education in criminology, teaching experience, previous work in crime prevention and politics, and time served on legislative committees.
The mission statement of the Office of the Correctional Investigator notes that a correctional investigator must work to keeping "an accessible independent avenue of redress for offender complaints." In this role, the correctional investigator must actively address complaints from offenders, analyze specific concerns and make recommendations when necessary in a non-discriminatory fashion that is seen as respectful and transparent toward the individuals. In keeping with this approach, institutions must respect the decisions and recommendations of the correctional investigator.
Inquires and Investigations
The nature of an individual prisoner complaint can trigger an initial inquiry or a full-blown investigation, led by the correctional investigator. In the instance of an investigation, the correctional investigator has the power to lead hearings and necessitate the full truthful cooperation of the powers and individual parties involved. The findings of an investigation are not influenced by existing laws and the recommendations of the correctional investigator can be passed through governing channels to modify or create new laws if needed.
The volume of complaints received by the correctional investigator requires a support team to handle a number of elements in each investigation. The correctional investigator makes the final recommendations, but leaves it to the support team to conduct regular interviews with inmates and prison officials. The duties of the support team also include regular meetings with specific inmate groups and individual meetings with inmates when needed.
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Kyle Walsh has been writing professionally since 1997. He served as the editor of a monthly newsletter for a market research firm in Vancouver and writes lifestyle articles for online publications. Walsh holds a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University of Victoria.