The Ministry of Justice needs to improve upon following its own policies regarding progress reports on the rehabilitation of adult offenders according to the Provincial Auditor of Saskatchewan.
In Judy Ferguson’s report Tuesday, she commended the ministry for establishing new guidelines, but also laid critique on the timeliness of report’s completion.
“They’ve got those clear policies and processes but unfortunately staff aren’t following them in a significant way,” said Ferguson.
She outlined how half of the case files examined by the ministry itself showed the risk assessments and case files were not completed within the recommended six-week time frame of the offenders starting their community sentence.
About three-quarters of the case files the ministry looked at didn’t have regular progress reports completed. In addition, Ferguson said around one-quarter of case files didn’t comply with supervision policy.
Her office made seven recommendations in the area of community rehabilitation of adult offenders to the ministry in 2011.
Since then, three have been implemented.
“If you’re not following your policies and implementing your policies then your program isn’t being rolled out as it’s been designed and so your risk is that you increase the chances of people repeating offences and crimes,” she detailed.
Deputy minister Dale McFee said the justice ministry is confident significant progress will be made on the remaining recommendations in a year. He added some of these reports can take a lengthy amount of time to complete.
“We’re feeling good about the changes. Would we have liked to have them all done? Yes, but when it’s 20 -30 hours and we’re seeing growth in remand and growth in bail it’s like anything else, it takes some time,” he said.
The auditor noted that several ministry employees have commented about their workload being heavy and therefore not being able to deliver on some of the policies. She said she’ll leave it up to the ministry to decide if any extra help is needed to address her recommendations.
Ferguson said the ministry may have to do an overall review of its workload.
McFee said improvements have been made to their IT system, which should help them in implementing recommendations moving forward. He also said if they need to, more staff will be brought in to help.
“What we need to make sure though is we’re adding them in the right areas and what we’re actually doing makes a difference,” he said.
As well, McFee said it’s a matter of prioritizing cases.