Lesson 12: The Corrections System

Topic 4: Federal and Provincial Prisons

The management and operation of corrections facilities is a shared responsibility between the federal and provincial governments. For sentences of less than two years, the offender with be held in provincial correctional facilities. For sentences of two years or more, the offender will be held in federal penitentiaries.

Federal Penitentiaries

Anyone sentenced to two years or more serves time in a maximum, medium, or minimum-security federal penitentiary. Generally, prisoners are assigned in the following ways:

  • Maximum Security Prisons for prisoners who may try to escape and are considered dangerous to the community.
  • Medium Security Prison for prisoners who may try to escape but are not considered dangerous.
  • Minimum Security Prisons for prisoners who are unlikely to try and escape and are not considered dangerous.

BC Correctional Facilities

For prison sentences of less than two years, the BC Corrections Branch decides where the offender will serve the term. Prisoners considered dangerous or likely to try and escape are kept in one of five security centers. About 50% of all prisoners in BC serve time in these jails.

Nearly half are sent to Open Centers, which are usually remote forest camps or farms. Prisoners there work in forest management, animal and crop care, and salmon enhancement programs.

The remaining inmates are carefully chosen to serve their time in Community Centers. These are houses close to or in the prisoner’s home community, where prisoners live together under the supervision of corrections staff. The prisoners can leave the house to go to work or school.