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Ontario's Policy for the Admission, Classification and Placement of Trans Inmates

Backgrounder

Ontario's Policy for the Admission, Classification and Placement of Trans Inmates

Ontario's new Correctional Services' policy for the Admission, Classification and Placement of Trans Inmates is the result of a comprehensive consultation process that involved ministry staff, including LGBTQ staff members and those with human rights expertise, community stakeholders and justice sector partners in Toronto, Ottawa and Sudbury.

 The Ontario Human Rights Commission, which is also a partner in Correctional Services' Human Rights Plan, provided input into the policy.

Training

 The policy will be supported by training and education.

  • Training will begin in March and will be delivered to priority institutional staff using a train-the-trainer model.
  • Content related to gender identity and gender expression will be incorporated into foundational training programs through the Human Rights Plan.
  • A Trans Awareness e-learning course is in development and will be available to all ministry staff.
  • Persons who self-identify as trans have been consulted as part of the training development strategy.

Policy Changes

 Case management

 Former practice:

  • Housing decisions were made based on the inmate's "primary sexual characteristic."

 New policy:

  • Inmates will be housed according to their self-identified gender or housing preference.
  • Placement and care decisions will be made with the inmate's input using a case management process.
  • A plan of care will be developed by a multi-disciplinary case management team.
  • Case management teams will include health care and social workers, operational staff and community supports with ready access to human rights expertise.

 Searches

 Former practice:

  • Inmates could choose to be searched by a male, female correctional officer or both (split search) for strip searches only.

 New policy:

  • The option to be searched by a male, female correctional officer or both has been extended to frisk searches.
  • Inmates must be given the opportunity to provide input into the search process (including prosthetics) to ensure that it is carried out respectfully.
  • Where the inmate chooses to have both a male and female correctional officer to be involved with the search, the inmate must be provided the choice of which body parts are searched by whom.
  • Inmates will be offered privacy during a search, including any search of prosthetics.

 Housing

 Former practice:

  • Housing decisions were based on the inmate's "primary sexual characteristics."

 New policy:

  • Inmates must be placed in an institution appropriate to their self-identified gender or housing preference, unless it can be proven there are overriding health or safety risks which would amount to undue hardship under the Human Rights Code.
  • The inmate must be involved in the decision-making process.

 Integration

 Former practice:

  • An inmate was often housed in segregation.

 New policy:

  • Wherever possible (and subject to inmate preference), inmates will be integrated into the general population and not isolated.
  • In some cases, inmates may need to be temporarily separated from the general population in order to ensure their health and safety and that of other inmates pending an individualized assessment of their needs and circumstances.
  • Inmates housed outside of the general population must be afforded as many socialization and programming opportunities possible, short of undue hardship.

 Identification

 Former practice:

  • All records were kept in the inmates' legal name and there was no formal consideration to verbally use their preferred name based on their gender identity.

 New policy:

  • Inmates will be referred to by their preferred name(s) and gender pronoun (e.g., he, she, ze) verbally and in all written documents.

 Personal items

 Former practice:

  • There was no consistency for the search or return of personal items.

 New policy:

  • Inmates will be permitted to retain personal items, including prosthetics, necessary to express their gender, except where they present an overriding health and safety risk that would amount to undue hardship under the Human Rights Code.


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