Ministry of the
Solicitor General

Corrections - Inmate Telephone Communication

Policies and Guidelines

Inmate Telephone Communication

The following information is a summary of Correctional Services’ Inmate Telephone Communication policy.

Ontario’s Correctional Services recognizes that communication between inmates, family members and members of the community is important for their rehabilitation and successful reintegration into society. The telephone is the primary method by which inmates maintain contact with others.

Inmate Telephones and Calls

Inmates may call any person with a standard North American 10-digit telephone number who is capable of being billed for collect calls. This is provided the person is willing to accept the charges, and the call does not violate a court order, constitute an offence under federal or provincial statute, or jeopardize the safety of any person or the security of the institution. Collect calls cannot be made to mobile telephones.

In the event of an emergency such as a serious family illness, injury or death, the superintendent or designate may allow the inmate to use the telephone and the institution will pay for the call. In cases where a call is not an emergency but cannot be made collect, the superintendent may authorize the call upon completion of a written request.

The superintendent may require the inmate to have sufficient funds to pay for the call.

Monitoring or Recording Calls

Telephone calls between inmates and members of the community will not be monitored or recorded in any manner. Law enforcement personnel may monitor or record specific calls provided they produce a properly authorized warrant.

Access to Telephones

Telephone access times may vary from institution to institution. In general, inmates may access the telephone system five hours a day (with additional access in case of emergency). The telephone system puts a 20 minute limit on all calls made on a pay phone. After that time, the call automatically ends.

All inmate telephones are shut off between the hours of 23:00 (11:00 p.m.) and 06:00 (6:00 a.m.) seven days a week. Extensions to calling hours may be authorized by Correctional Services.

While inmate telephones are under the general supervision and control of the correctional staff, equitable access to inmate telephones rests with the inmate population in each living unit.

Inmates Without Access to Inmate Telephones

Where inmates do not have direct access to telephones, Correctional Services will ensure that telephone calls by inmates can still be made. Correctional Services also ensures that incoming messages for inmates are delivered.

Staff Supervised Calls

In exceptional circumstances, the superintendent or delegate may permit an inmate to make a supervised personal telephone call (e.g. from the office of the sergeant, social worker or chaplain).

Text Telephone for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

At the present time, the inmate telephone system will not accommodate the use of a TTY/Teletypewriter. Until this capability exists, an inmate requiring a TTY/Teletypewriter will be given reasonable, supervised access to an institutional office telephone.

If a hearing impaired inmate is admitted to an institution, all efforts will be made to accommodate the inmate with necessary equipment or supports. Where use of this equipment is not possible, consideration must be given to transferring the inmate to an institution where this capability exists.

Such determinations are based on the special needs of the inmate and the individual circumstances of the case. For example, the need for frequent contact with legal counsel or community supports.

Abusing Telephone Privileges

Restrictions will be imposed on an inmate’s telephone privileges when the superintendent is notified that an inmate call has violated a legal sanction or has jeopardized the safety of any person or the security of the institution. Inmates abusing telephone privileges may be placed on misconduct or, if appropriate, reported to the police.

Where inmates have lost the privilege of making telephone calls, the following procedures apply:

The inmate must submit a request form for a telephone call to be made. The form must contain:

  • Name and telephone number of the individual to be called
  • Most likely time that the individual can be contacted and the reason for the call
  • Details of the message

All reasonable requests are acted upon, particularly when the calls are of a compassionate or urgent nature, and are to be made to:

  • Members of the immediate family
  • An inmate’s lawyer or licensed paralegal
  • Office of the Ombudsman
  • Chaplains or leaders of recognized faith groups

Repeated attempts are made to contact the above designated parties.

The individual staff person making the call on the inmate’s behalf will indicate on the request form the time and results of any and all attempts to deliver the message. The form is returned to the inmate within 24 hours for signature.

Long distance calls will normally be made collect.

Call Blocking

Correctional Services has adopted call blocking protocols to prevent inmates from contacting victims, witnesses or other concerned citizens by telephone while incarcerated.

In addition to the above protocol, an inmate may be prevented from communicating with a specified person by telephone if the superintendent or designate believes that the security of the institution or the safety of any person would be jeopardized.

An inmate may also be prevented from communicating with a specified person by telephone if that person submits a request to the superintendent or designated employee that they not receive any telephone communication from the inmate. In the case of a minor, this request may be made by a parent or guardian.

If an individual wishes to have calls blocked from an institution’s telephones, the institution must contact the Victim Support Line (VSL) in North Bay at (705) 494-3368.

Call blocks remain in effect until

  • The complainant requests that it be lifted
  • A court order expires in cases where the call block was ordered by the court
  • The superintendent or designate determines there is no longer a security concern

Call Transfers and Three-way Calls

The telephone three-way call blocking feature has been implemented to support public safety and institutional security.

The ministry may exempt verified telephone numbers from the three-way call detect and blocking feature. This exemption is provided for the purpose of facilitating the transfer of offender calls from a receptionist or automated telephone attendant system to the intended call recipient.

It is the responsibility of individuals to request to have their telephone number(s) included on either a Common Access List or a Call Blocked List. It is also their responsibility to advise of any changes to their telephone numbers.

The ministry may also allow for call transfers by Legal Counsel offices when receiving offender calls.