Lesson 12: The Corrections System

Topic 1: Imprisonment in the Criminal Justice System

In the early 1700’s, Robert Nichols of Annapolis, Nova Scotia was convicted of theft and sentenced “to be whipped whilst tied to the end of a cart…receiving each hundred paces five stripes upon your back with a cat of nine tails.” In those days, governments did not provide prisons or other corrections programs. Society did not expect the state to rehabilitate offenders. Punishment was all that mattered. Today, judges consider the protection of society and the rehabilitation of the offender as well as retribution and deterrence when sentencing.

A person accused of a crime may be imprisoned before the disposition of the case and could also be sentenced to imprisonment if found guilty. Generally speaking, incarceration or imprisonment is considered to be the last resort for the judge to use under the sentencing principles set out in the Criminal Code of Canada (CCC). For information on these principles look at Section 2 - Lesson 7: Youth Criminal Justice Act: Sentencing and Records.