NS does not adequately monitor those serving sentences in the community: Auditor General – Halifax

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The company contracted by Nova Scotia to monitor convicts serving sentences in the community is failing to fulfill its responsibilities and probation officers are not fully complying with correctional policies, the province’s auditor general said on Tuesday. .

Nova Scotia must immediately improve how it monitors people serving sentences in the community, auditor Kim Adair said in her report. Convicts serving community sentences are allowed to live outside of provincial jails, usually under the supervision of probation officers.

“Public confidence must be maintained in the community corrections system and there were many points of failure throughout the testing of this audit,” Adair said.

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She told reporters on Tuesday that the Justice Department had failed to properly oversee the firm hired to monitor convicts serving community sentences, adding that the firm had been paid around $250,000 a year for the past five years. years.

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The auditor did not name the company in her report, but the judge

The ministry has confirmed that Jemtec Inc. is the province’s electronic supervision service provider. The British Columbia-based company did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

Adair’s audit, which covers January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2020, tested a sample of 30 electronic surveillance alerts from daily reports submitted by Jemtec to the Department of Justice. An alert is generated when a person serving a community sentence violates conditions such as curfew or if they travel to a place they are not authorized to go.

The audit found that in 20 of 30 alerts – two-thirds of the sample – Jemtec “did not follow protocol despite indicating that it had”.

“Electronic supervision is the highest form of surveillance and if not properly managed, public safety could be at risk,” Adair said.

Meanwhile, some of Nova Scotia’s 80 probation officers aren’t meeting people properly and aren’t complying with correctional policies, leading to poor supervision and lack of oversight, Adair said.

It is the responsibility of senior probation officers, she said, to ensure that all corrections staff make appropriate visits to people who have been released. These visits, Adair said, “were not going the way (they) should.”

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As of March 2020, 4,700 people were serving sentences in the community in Nova Scotia, 10 times more than the number of people in provincial custody.

Adair said it was concerning that the Justice Department was unaware of the lack of oversight until the audit took place.

“My biggest concern is the public risk factor,” she said.

The audit is accompanied by 10 recommendations, which the ministry is committed to implementing. Recommendations include developing a new process to determine whether the electronic service provider is effectively fulfilling its contract and identifying community corrections staff who have not met training requirements.

Eight of the recommendations will be completed by May 2023, a Justice Department spokesperson said. Two recommendations will be completed later: the creation of an orientation program for new community correctional staff will be completed by November 2023, and the recommendation to identify incomplete training of correctional staff will be completed by May 2025.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 17, 2022.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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