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Prison System

The Correctional Service of Canada is the federal government agency responsible for administering sentences of a term of two years or more, as imposed by the courts.

The Service is responsible for managing institutions of various security levels and supervising offenders under conditional release in the community. It provides programs for offenders, and participates in parole decisions.

Federal institutions (prisons) have different levels of security: maximum, medium, minimum or multi-level. Most provincial institutions have similar designations.


Maximum-security institutions are for offenders who are considered to pose a risk to staff, other offenders, community members or other offenders. Maximum security institutions are also for offenders who have an escape risk. These institutions provide strict control over the movement and activities of prisoners.


Medium-security prisons are for offenders with lower security concerns. These institutions limit inmate activities but also encourage inmates to participate in various programs to address their needs. Significant controls over inmate activities and privileges are in place.


Minimum-security prisons are for offenders who pose the lowest security concerns. In these institutions, inmates usually have work responsibilities including in the community and are encouraged to take more responsibilities for their daily lives. Institutional controls remain but are more limited meeting a minimum security environment.

Inmates in these facilities have relatively unrestricted movement and may travel to and from day parole or work placements.

Did You Know?
Inmates do not usually stay at the same security level or in the same place through their whole sentence. Usually they are moved to a lower-security institution near the end of their sentence to help them prepare for returning to the community.

For More Information Try

If you would like to see or know more about the facility in which an offender is serving his or her sentence, you can speak to the National Parole Board communications officer or to the prison’s Victim Liaison Officer.

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