Two young offender centres located in Edmonton and Calgary, house open custody, secure custody and remand status young offenders. A number of privately operated group homes under contract to the Correctional Services Division also house open custody young offenders.
The Young Offender Branch Custody Program promotes positive behaviour change in the young offender in custody, while preparing the young person for reintegration to the community.
A youth worker is assigned to each young offender in custody. Upon placement, consideration is given to problem areas a young offender will need to work on prior to returning to the community. Individual needs are identified and summarized in a case plan. Referrals are then made to school programs or other in house resources, group counselling, chaplaincy, or community resources to assist the young offender in meeting identified needs. The intent is to address issues which may have contributed to the offender's illegal behaviour and thereby facilitate the successful reintegration into the community.
Educational and day programs are offered to meet academic and instructional needs. All young offenders in custody under the age of 16 are required to attend school. School programs are offered through a three-way contract between Alberta Learning, Alberta Solicitor General and a local school board or educational institution. School programs provide for small classes with attention to individual needs and offer a full range of programs from elementary to high school, including remedial courses.
Library services are maintained at all young offender centres to provide educational, cultural, leisure and informational resources. Young offenders are encouraged to access the library on a regular basis.
Life skills programs are designed to teach young offenders skills that improve their developmental abilities, which enable them to make more responsible decisions and allow them to successfully reintegrate back into the community. A wide range of topics are covered including stress management, relationships, decision making, family violence, budgeting/banking, nutrition, job skills/job readiness, cooking, health, clothing care and AIDS awareness.
Medical and mental health services are provided to all young offenders in correctional centres. These services include nursing, medical, dental, psychological and psychiatric care. Referrals are made to community resources where appropriate. Counselling programs include individual and group counselling as well as referrals to in-centre and community professional resources. These resources very from centre to centre but can include:
| Sex offender treatment
| Anger management
|| Intervention program|
| Transition program
| Healthy relationships
|| Sexual and physical abuse|
| Life skills
| Behaviour adaptation unit
|| Mental health program|
| Separation and loss
|| Victim to survivor|
| Family counselling
|| Mentoring |
In addition, Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission, the Alberta Provincial Forensic Psychiatry Program and other agencies provide programs within centres, some of which are continued in the community upon release.
Offender work programs provide an opportunity to develop practical employment skills. In centre placements include assisting in meal preparation, kitchen cleaning and centre maintenance. Centre work programs also provide community service work to other government departments, municipalities and non-profit organizations.
Recreational Programs are comprehensive and diversified and are available to young offenders in all centres. Recreational programs provide an opportunity for physical and social development and foster the young offender's interest in activities that can be pursued once they are released into the community. Activities include weight training, non-contact sports, games rooms, hobbies and handcrafts, Boy Scouts and Cadets. Recreational activity occurs in the evening and weekends when young offenders are not in school or engaged in a work placement. Many activities are coordinated through the use of volunteers and community agencies.
When a young offender is sentenced to an open or secure custody sentence by the youth court, the case is referred to the Provincial Placement Authority. When a young offender is given a custody sentence, the Placement Authority will endeavour to ensure that the custody placement is best suited to the individual needs of the young offender. Factors which are considered in determining the appropriate placement of the offender include the type of custody, age, security risk, custody history, the offence, degree of supervision required, program needs and the proximity of the placement to family and community resources.
The reintegration leave program enables selected young offenders to be released from custody for employment, education, or treatment purposes. Public safety is the first consideration in all reintegration leave decision-making. Reintegration leave plays a significant role in the transition of young offenders into the community, and serves as an indication of their suitability for an application to review a custodial sentence before the youth court. A reintegration leave provides young offenders the opportunity to access services and programs identified as potentially beneficial in enhancing the social circumstances from which they came and to which they will return. When reintegration leave is granted young offenders must abide by conditions established to govern their behaviour in the community. If young offenders do not abide by these conditions, they will be returned to custody.
Alberta Correctional Services provides open custody group homes in Edmonton and Calgary. Open custody group homes have few security features aside from staff supervision and offer young offenders access to numerous services in the community such as educational or treatment programs and employment opportunities. Open custody group homes play an important role in the reintegration process. Young offenders are encouraged to maintain contact with family, significant others, and community resources in preparation for full release. Information about community programs for young offenders can be obtained here at Community Corrections.
Long standing economic and social difficulties in many Aboriginal communities result in significant challenges for some Aboriginal children, contributing to an overrepresentation of Aboriginal youth in the justice system.
Aboriginal Community Programs
Services are provided through contracts with six Aboriginal organizations located throughout Alberta. Programs offered by these organizations represent the First Nations, Métis, and individual bands within the province. They have the responsibility for the delivery of programs that may include community corrections programs, crime prevention programs and court work services within their communities.
Aboriginal Custody Programs
Aboriginal Elders visit young offender correctional facilities to provide spiritual guidance, counselling, and instruction in sweet grass ceremonies and sweat lodges. Young offender centres also have Native program coordinators that provide personal counselling and cultural awareness.