Fonds consists of records created and/or maintained by the Correctional Service of Canada and its predecessors, including operational records of the CSC headquarters, regional, and district parole offices, penitentiaries and other penal institutions, and selected inmate case files. Records of the various institutions reflect their role in the Canadian penal system, and the care and custody of inmates serving sentences (including health care, education, training and employment, and counselling and personal development programs). Researchers are cautioned that unprocessed textual records and records in other media are not reflected in this description. Moving images are found in the series entitled Documentaries from the Correctional Service of Canada.
Correctional Service Canada: In 1831, a Commission of Inquiry into the penal system appointed by the Legislature of Upper Canada recommended that a penitentiary be built in Kingston, Ontario, as an alternative to the death penalty, corporal punishment, payment of fines, transportation, and imprisonment in local jails. Kingston Penitentiary, which was opened in June 1835, was modelled after Auburn Prison in New York State, where inmates worked together during the day at hard labour under enforced rules of silence and spent their nights alone in separate cells.
In 1867, the Government of Canada became responsible for the maintenance and management of the Kingston Penitentiary by virtue of Section 91 of the British North America Act. The penitentiary was authorized to receive offenders sentenced to terms of more them two years who mainly came from the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. The Penitentiary Act of 1868 (31 Victoria Chapter V) established a federal penitentiary service under the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice. Between 1867 and 1930, federal penitentiaries were established in Québec (Saint Vincent de Paul, est. 1873), Manitoba (Stony Mountain, est. 1877), British Columbia (New Westminster, est. 1878), New Brunswick (Dorchester, est. 1880), Alberta (est. 1906) and Saskatchewan (Prince Albert, est. 1911). A Remission Branch within the Department of Justice was established in 1913, to administer the Ticket of Leave Act and the Royal Prerogative of Mercy Act, and in 1918, the position of Superintendent of Penitentiaries was created.
Following several disturbances in penal institutions between 1931 and 1935, in April 1938, the Royal Commission to Investigate the Penal System in Canada (the Archambault Commission) recommended the abolition of the Remission Branch and the creation of a separate prison commission. With passage of the Penitentiaries Act of 1939 (3 George VI, Chapter 6), the Penitentiary Commission was established for the administration of federal penal institutions. Further revisions to the Penitentiary Act in 1962 established the Canadian Penitentiary Service, organized along functional lines, and allowed for the creation of regional directorates; it also permitted the confinement in federal institutions of persons sentenced to less than 2 years, and defined the security classification of inmates (maximum, medium, and minimum).
In December 1965, Order in Council PC 2286 transferred responsibility for federal penitentiaries from the Department of Justice to the newly-created office of the Solicitor General. The name Correctional Service Canada was unofficially adopted in 1978 when the Canadian Penitentiary Service was placed with the National Parole Board under the direction of the Commissioner of Corrections. In 1986, the name became official by virtue of An Act to Amend the Parole Act, the Penitentiary Act, the Prisons and Reformatories Act and the Criminal Code (SC 1986, c.43, s.17). The Penitentiary Act and the Parole Act were replaced in 1992 by the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.
Reporting to Parliament through the Solicitor General, the mandate of the Correctional Service of Canada is to administer sentences imposed by the courts which total two years or more, and to prepare offenders under their care and custody for a successful return to the community. CSC is also responsible for supervising offenders for whom the National Parole Board has granted a conditional release from a penitentiary, or institutions in provinces or territories without their own Boards of Parole.