With the announcement on April 19, 2012, of the closure of Kingston Penitentiary, its regional treatment centre and Leclerc Instituition in Quebec, questions have arisen regarding overcrowding in Canada's prisons.

The federal government is hoping 2,700 beds will be ready by the time the three institutions are officially decommissioned in two years.

Here's a look at current space in Canada's prisons.

15,000 — Approximate number of beds operated in 57 sites by Correctional Services Canada, including various security levels: minimum, medium, maximum, as well as regional psychiatric centres for acutely mentally ill offenders

14,600 — Approximate number of beds currently in use

2,700 — Number of beds the federal government plans to build over the next three years

1,000 — Number of beds the federal government plans to decommission over the next two years

10% — Rate of double-bunking that is allowed as a result of overcrowding

15% — Current rate of double-bunking across Canada

5 square metres — Minimum size of cell acceptable for double-bunking

7 square metres — Minimum cell size standard for single occupancy for new and replacement accommodation with a toilet and wash basin

6.5 square metres — Minimum cell size standard for single occupancy for new and replacement accommodation for cells without a toilet and wash basin

500 — Maximum number of prisoners allowed in maximum and multi-level security prisons

600 — Maximum number of prisoners allowed in medium level security prisons

250 — Maximum number of prisoners allowed in minimum security prisons

150 — maximum number of prisoners allowed in women’s regional prisons.

2 — maximum number of inmates allowed in a cell.

Double-bunking is not allowed for:

  • Segregation cells
  • Cells used for psychiatric care or mental health care (except where authorized as part of a treatment program)
  • Cells smaller than five square metres
  • Cells with no direct or indirect natural light
  • Cells designated and occupied by handicapped inmates except in shared accommodation
  • Cells for suicide watch (observation) unless authorized on an individual basis by the attending therapist or physician
Source: Office of the Correctional Investigator