Women offenders

Women offenders are a small and unique part of the total Canadian federal offender population. To meet their needs, the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) takes a holistic, women-centred approach that prioritizes public safety.

Women's institutions

  • CSC operates six women's institutions across Canada, including a healing lodge.
  • All women's institutions are multi-level. Most house women offenders classified at minimum, medium and maximum security levels. However, the healing lodge is only for women at the minimum or medium security level.
  • CSC's safe and supportive environment provides opportunities to women offenders that empower them to live with dignity and respect.
  • We help them to rebuild their lives as law-abiding citizens, which creates safer communities for all.
  • Staff that work with women offenders receive women-centred training. This helps them to be sensitive to issues that face federally sentenced women and be responsive to their needs.

Offender profile

  • Five per cent of Canadian federal offenders are women.
  • On average, there were 678 women in custody in CSC facilities in 2015-16.
  • Indigenous women are over-represented in the federal correctional system. They represent almost 36 per cent of incarcerated women offenders, and 22 per cent of women offenders under supervision in the community.
  • Compared to the average Canadian, women offenders:
    • have a higher incidence of substance abuse and mental health problems
    • are more likely to have a history of physical and/or sexual abuse.

In custody

  • Most women offenders are serving a sentence of less than five years.
  • In 2014-15, there were 123 women serving a life or indeterminate sentence.
  • Women offenders in CSC facilities are offered a variety of correctional, social, employment and educational programs.

In the community

  • On average, there were 546 women under CSC supervision in the community in 2015-16.
  • Between 2005 and 2015, women offenders were more likely to be granted day and full parole than men.
  • Women offenders in the community have access to CSC self-management programs delivered by qualified and trained facilitators.
  • Women offenders in the community have access to community employment services to help them to find meaningful work.

Correctional programs for women

  • CSC offers a variety of programs for women offenders, including programs for Aboriginal women. They are designed to address problems that are specific to women and use a modern, holistic approach.
  • Women offenders have diverse needs that affect the way they respond to correctional programs. As a result, our programs for women offenders consider:
    • their social, economic, and cultural situation in society
    • the importance of relationships in their lives
    • their unique pathways into crime
    • the fact that they are more likely than men to experience  trauma, victimization, mental health problems, low self-esteem, and have parenting responsibilities.

Updated January 2017