The Special Handling Unit is Canada's highest security (super-maximum) prison. It is co-located with the Ste-Anne-des-Plaines Institution (maximum security) and the Regional Reception Centre, at the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) complex at Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines, Quebec (a short distance from Mirabel International Airport). As of 2008, there were 90 prisoners at the SHU. It is nicknamed "the SHU" (pronounced 'shoe').
The 6 wing radial shaped facility is surrounded by three rows of fencing which is in turn surrounded by farms.
Inmates are always handcuffed in the presence of officers. When escorting inmates, officers are unarmed to prevent inadvertently placing a weapon in the vicinity of the prisoner, Escorting officers do carry pepper spray. Weapons and other equipment are carried by officers manning the elevated catwalk. Inmates must progress through programs in the SHU before being transferred back to the general population of other maximum security prisons; however, some inmates are considered to be too high-risk to be eligible for this and are detained in the SHU for longer periods.