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Direct Supervision

The new ERC is being constructed using a direct supervision model. It is considered a best practice throughout Canada and the USA. 
The majority of correctional facilities in Alberta already use direct supervision and those who have worked in them know that it works.

Direct supervision is an inmate management system that places staff face-to-face with inmates and gives them the skills and tools to manage inmate behavior.  Correctional Peace Officers (CPOs) are stationed inside of the living units and are not separated from inmates by any physical barriers (e.g. windows or walls).  They maintain direct and frequent interaction with inmates to help build effective working relationships.

Research has shown that these environments are generally safer than indirect supervision environments. Correctional Peace Officers working in a direct supervision environment are better able to hear, see and interpret inmate behavior, conversations  and body language. With this information, officers can be proactive and settle issues before they flare up.

Communication is a cornerstone of direct supervision. Inmates are given clear direction on rules and expectations and are held to a high standard of behaviour.  Officers use a progressive system of awarding privileges to inmates displaying positive behavior. Inmates who choose not to follow centre rules are subject to progressive discipline, which involves the reduction of privileges and can result in the inmate being removed from the direct supervision unit and placed in a more secure unit with fewer privileges.

It is important to remember that not all inmates are suitable for direct supervision. Research has shown that 5 – 10 per cent of inmates will be problematic and will not function well in a direct supervision environment. These inmates will be housed in secure segregation units rather than in open direct supervision units.

The safety of staff and inmates is a priority. For the new ERC, two CPOs will be assigned to each regular living unit and each will have a radio for communication.  In addition to the two staff per unit, there will be an officer in a secure pod control station located on the upper level of the pods. The pod control operator will be continuously supervising all four units in the pod and will be able to take control of any unit in an emergency.