shepody healing centre

Shepody Healing Centre

The Shepody Healing Centre in New Brunswick is a unique correctional facility focused solely on the assessment, stabilization, and rehabilitation of federally incarcerated men struggling with serious mental health disorders. As one of only five such regional treatment hubs nationwide, it plays a vital role in managing complex cases within prison populations across Eastern Canada.

From its specialized staff and targeted programming to the multi-security unit environment itself, every aspect of the Centre aims to provide compassionate, patient-centered care tailored to the needs of this challenging demographic. However, significant resourcing limitations and overcrowding issues continue to hamper operations.

Ongoing efforts are being made to expand infrastructure and community release supports for discharged patients in hopes of improving health outcomes and reducing rates of re-offending down the line. But until more funding and awareness are directed towards offender mental health, facilities like Shepody will continue operating at capacity -Offering rehabilitation, counselling, medical support and hope to those who need it most behind bars.

History and Opening of the Facility

The Shepody Healing Centre first opened its doors in 2001 as part of the Dorchester Penitentiary in New Brunswick.

Its construction came about after Correctional Service Canada (CSC) recognized a major gap in the continuity of psychiatric care between incarceration periods and community release for offenders managing long-term mental health disorders across Eastern Canada’s prison network.

They began developing regional inpatient hubs that could be accessed by CSC caseworkers from provincial jails and federal institutions all along the Atlantic. Severely unwell residents could then be transferred to these centralized treatment facilities for more intensive, longer-term care instead of medical segregation or repeated hospital trips alone.

Location and Layout

Strategically situated beside a large penitentiary, the standalone Shepody Healing Centre comprises two wings and 53 beds across various security levels ranging from minimum to maximum.

One houses specialized mental health services exclusively for sentenced male offenders, while the other helps mentally ill patients found unfit to stand trial or not criminally responsible transition back into the community upon release.

See also  Saskatchewan Penitentiary

Round-the-clock observation areas, interview rooms, common spaces, and a state-of-the-art telepsychiatry suite allow for comprehensive physical and mental health assessments, counseling, group sessions, medication adjustments, and discharge planning on-site. There is also a dedicated patient education center focused on teaching self-management techniques to better equip complex cases for life after incarceration.

Security Levels

Given resident instability and unpredictable behaviors, tailored supervision protocols are in place 24/7. Specially trained correctional officers support mental health teams by ensuring prescribed medications are consistently administered and incidents diffused appropriately via de-escalation or emergency restraints if required.

Quarters range from open dorm surroundings to single cells with maximum-security doors and observation panels depending on patient risk levels at intake. Regardless of restrictions though, the overarching atmosphere remains one of encouragement, dignity, and compassion-of-care.

Services and Programs Offered

Above all else, the interdisciplinary teams behind the Shepody Healing Center strive towards positive treatment outcomes for offenders grappling concurrent mental health disorders, cognitive disabilities, traumatic histories, and substance abuse tendencies.

From crisis stabilization and social reintegration skills to clinical and pharmaceutical therapies, their programming enhances both self-awareness and day-to-day functionality in this marginalized group.

Mental Health Treatment

At the core of the facility is round-the-clock clinical intervention for offenders referred directly from federal prisons and provincial institutions across the entire Atlantic region.

Whether first episodes or long-term psychosis, mood and personality disorders, dual diagnoses or rehabilitation barriers, Shepody’s on-site psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and nurses offer urgent assessments, counseling, appropriate medications, and therapies like CBT and DBT proven to reduce destructive thinking patterns and extreme behaviors often following incarceration.

Inpatient and Outpatient Care

The Centre serves as an inpatient hub for the most severely afflicted residents in addition to ambulatory or day-patient programming. Regardless of security level, open communication and observation play a huge role in monitoring patient responsiveness to treatments or early warning signs of relapse requiring heightened watch or remedial action plans.

Following discharge, doctors and officers maintain continuous outpatient relationships as well – ensuring vital continuity of care and stability for such a traditionally disconnected group.

Emergency and Consultative Services

Moreover, being the only facility of its kind in Eastern Canada, Shepody’s medical team offers regular emergency psychiatric aid and external consultations to CSC staff in other institutions struggling with acutely unwell inmates or treatment questions. Videoconferencing, expedited transfers and mobile support help de-escalate crises quickly while building regional mental health competency overall.

Rehabilitation and Skills Training

A big part of an offender’s positive prognosis comes from learning constructive ways to manage illnesses independently, engage in meaningful occupations, and contribute in society. As such, the Centre offers various pathways to help residents reintegrate safely back into the general population followed by gradual community release.

See also  Brockville Jail

Education & Vocational Programs

Classrooms and workshops on-grounds allow for graduating high school, skill-building certificates and even micro-enterprise courses for those committed to turning over a new leaf. Guards also lead sessions on financial planning, job applications and household self-sufficiency – all meant to ease uncertainty around the post-incarceration transition.

Patient Profile and Admissions

Every federally sentenced offender is unique, as is their treatment plan. But Shepody’s target demographic shares one key commonality – living with severe, persistent and often treatment-resistant mental illness requiring extensive support.

Patient Criteria and Referral Process

While Ontario and Quebec house most penitentiaries, nearly a third of Canadian inmates hail from the East. To qualify for Shepody, Atlantic residents must be male, low-to-moderate security risks, and recommended by CSC officers noting marked psychiatric distress, self-harm tendencies, or confinement barriers unresolved through standard institutional resources alone.

Complex mental, cognitive and behavioral symptomology, inconsistent engagement, medication concerns, and community release needs also play a role in referrals.

Not Criminally Responsible Patients

A portion of beds is dedicated to offenders deemed not criminally responsible (NCR) by courts secondary to profound mental defect. These specialized wards serve to rehabilitate without punishment via individual and group therapies. Lengthier stays averaging between 3-5 years are common until Review Boards deem it safe for discharge back home.

Long-term and Short-term Treatment Stays

Depending on case severity, patients may stay only weeks for diagnosis and crisis intervention or up to a year for intensive stabilization regimens. Most fall into an average 3-6 month range with the option of return visits if deterioration occurs post-release. Priority admissions and faster processing of NCR patients does result in some backlogs however.

Staff and Personnel

It takes an experienced interdisciplinary village to tend to Shepody’s complex population. Specialist doctors, clinicians and social workers provide therapies while specially trained correctional officers maintain security, reinforce social skills lessons and ensure medication compliance daily. Facility administration also oversees quality standards.

Mental Health Professionals

Psychiatrists, psychologists, behavioral therapists, social workers, nurses and counselors equipped to handle serious forensic cases staff each wing. Creative therapies, classroom engagement tactics, radio and art programming also connect patients to life beyond illness. Combined compassion and structure cultivate patient accountability.

Correctional Officers

Uniform staff trained in crisis response without force first build therapeutic bonds vital for this demographic’s care plan adherence. Compassionate engagement makes day-to-day monitoring, redirection and rehabilitation participation more effective long-term.

Challenges and Issues

While purpose-built to support some of Correctional Service Canada’s most psychiatrically and socially disadvantaged charges, over a decade of heavy usage and strained capacity has definitely impacted the Shepody Healing Centre’s operations.

Overcrowding Concerns

With constant backlogs and no equivalent facility access west of Ontario, the linear design means most shared and program rooms have become make-shift patient lodging – taking away dignified privacy and safety. Cramped quarters only aggravate volatility and conflicts too.

See also  Calgary Remand Centre

Funding Constraints

As a subsystem of the main Dorchester Penitentiary, monetary allowances dedicated directly towards Shepody are not always guaranteed year over year. Staff shortages and program cutbacks do occur as a result. Non-profit partnerships help offset governmental budget tightening somewhat via community donations, inmate art sales and sponsored rehabilitation activities however.

Recidivism Rates After Release

While certainly not the sole recidivism indicator, Correctional Service numbers suggest over half of offenders treated at the facility eventually relapse following discharge – ending back in custody. Some of this does relate to mental health supports drying up immediately in their hometowns. Finding ways to bolster reentry success remains an ongoing target.

Future Directions

While Eastern Canada’s historic offender treatment facility has made significant headway in what was previously a neglected area, there remains much society at large can still do to support Shepody’s vulnerable population.

Expanded Facilities

Planning is already underway to construct an adjacent building doubling bed capacity and programming premises. Regular patient transfers to newer western hubs would also help ease regional pressures immensely. Officials are even piloting remote group therapy delivery and e-learning in the interim.

Transitional & Community Supports

Bolstering mental health services, social assistance, housing, and vocational links nation-wide following patient discharge could drastically improve independence, functioning, and law-abidance moving forward. Partnerships expanding such supportive measures are key.

Ultimately, the Shepody Healing Center remains a pioneering concept and critical staging ground for some of Canada’s most dispossessed inmates seeking structure and salvation. Its therapeutic approaches continue evolving new ways to unlock self-efficacy and redemption for offenders wanting to overcomelandmark barriers – perhaps being the first step towards reconciliation and justice for all.


With specialized interdisciplinary teams, targeted programming, and a rehabilitative atmosphere, the Shepody Healing Centre provides a considered approach to managing and stabilizing some of Correctional Service Canada’s most psychiatrically and socially complex inmates in an empathetic, patient-centric environment.

Though resourcing limitations have led to crowded quarters and intermittent cutbacks, expansions underway aim to double capacity and success rates. Improved transitional supports bridging incarceration and community living may also strengthen discharged offender outcomes long-term.

In an imperfect system, places like Shepody still represent progress through their compassion and innovation. And with continued backing, they can positively transform marginalized lives caught between sentences – turning Canada’s historic treatment facility into a blueprint for institutional reform nationwide.


What security levels exist within Shepody?

Shepody houses federally sentenced male offenders spanning minimum to maximum security classifications based on intake assessments of risk, mental state, self-harm tendencies, confinement barriers and compliance history.

How are patients admitted into Shepody?

Severe unresolved mental health symptoms requiring subacute stabilization first need to be identified by officers within Atlantic Canada’s federal prisons or provincial jails. Recommended candidates then undergo fast-tracked assessments and transfers.

What is Shepody’s total treatment capacity?

Currently capped at 53 resident beds, demand well-exceeds availability. Expansions are underway to construct an adjacent building doubling inpatient quotas plus programming premises.

Does Shepody offer community release planning?

Yes, a big part of programming focuses on teaching critical self-management techniques, transitional life skills and establishing external clinical/social support to better enable smooth community reintegration post-incarceration.

Who pays to operate Shepody?

As a subsystem within an existing penitentiary, the standalone Centre’s budget depends partly on fluid governmental allowances. But non-profit community partnerships also direct extra rehabilitation programming funds annually.

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