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Women Offender Programs and Issues

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Proceedings: Meeting Of Correctional Service Of Canada And National Women's Organizations: Update On The Federally Sentenced Women Initiative

Summary of Presentations on the Federally Sentenced Women Facilities

 

Presentation On Fsw Facility, Truro, Nova Scotia - Frona Allen, Project Leader

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  • Short video of the construction completed to date on the FSW Facility in Truro: description of the three minimum security, cottage-style buildings, which will accommodate a total of 21 women.
  • Truro and the surrounding communities totals about 60,000 people. The property encompasses 18 acres, and its location allows for easy access both from town and the highway.
  • Construction budget was based on 1990 figures, and to accomplish the completion of the facility at today's costs, some original plans had to be given up. The daycare centre was given up, but a playroom was added in two of the houses to compensate for this. By doing this, they were able to keep the gymnasium, which was important to ensure a community focus. The gymnasium is separate from the other buildings, in that it has its own kitchenette and washrooms. This allows for separate community activities or joint activities between the FSW and the community.
  • A high percentage of the furniture is being provided by Corcan, a sector of CSC that employs inmates in real on-the-job employment experiences. Landscaping will also be done by Corcan prior to the opening of the facility, at which time the FSW will undertake this task.
  • The Warden reports to the Regional Deputy Commissioner, and is responsible for the daily operations of the facility and manages crisis situations. Directly reporting to the Warden are two Team Leaders, each with a team consisting of a case management officer, clerk, and seven Primary Workers. The Primary Workers have case management and security responsibilities and are responsible for the operation of the facility during off-hours. Other staff include: psychologist, clerks, Chief of Management Services. Truro is the smallest facility with a total of 26 staff who will each have a number of multi-disciplinary functions in order to encompass all the functions that must be done.
  • Staffing process in currently ongoing -- some staff will be redeployed experienced CSC staff; some referrals; and some Primary Workers will be recruited from the local community, to keep the commitment we made for employment to the local community.
  • The selection of the Primary Workers will include an assessment of the candidate's sensitivity to women's issues and the ability to work in a women-centred environment, as well as the specific duties of the job and professionalism.
  • A training plan will be developed for each individual hired to ensure all required training is completed. The Correctional Training Program (CTP) is a condition of employment for Primary Workers. Specific training will also be provided, including non-violent crisis intervention; women-centred training; and skills development.
  • The goal of the FSW Facilities is to provide a level of security required to ensure the safety of all concerned. The Truro facility will house FSW from four Atlantic provinces, and since all FSW do not require the same level of security, a Security Management System for FSW is being developed, which will be discussed later in the day.
  • In addition to the three cottages, the Truro Facility will include an enhanced unit with four cells, two of which are for new admissions during the initial assessment and two of which are for FSW requiring more security because of their danger to others or themselves. This will provide short-term intervention while a correctional plan is developed to facilitate the women's return to her unit. As an interim measure, the Prison for Women will accommodate those few women who cannot be accommodated in the enhanced unit at Truro. The aim will be to develop a plan for each individual to support her return to Truro.
  • Core Programs will be delivered at each facility in accordance with the Program Strategy. The Program for Survivors has been contracted to Coverdale, an organization in the Atlantic for women in conflict with the law. There is considerable community involvement in this and other volunteer programs, which is important for the facility and the FSW.
  • Training and employment is being examined which will be appropriate in terms of the philosophy of the facility. For example, a horticultural program is under development, and initial discussions with Tourism Nova Scotia have taken place, as this sector has the fastest growing number of employment opportunities in the province. A home study certification program may be available with testing on-site.
  • Community involvement has been an earmark of this project from the beginning. The Regional Advisory Committee has been formed following a meeting in which various external agencies gathered and discussed the formation of this Committee, its role statement and functions. The first formal meeting will be February 8, 1995. The Regional Advisory Committee will be important for the consultation role it offers to the FSW Facility, but also because the members represent the four Atlantic provinces which the FSW come from and, more importantly, where they will be released to.
  • A Citizen Advisory Committee is also being formed which will include representatives from the immediate neighbourhood and the larger Truro community. This group will perform the role of liaison between the local community and the facility.
  • Continue to have a number of people involved in volunteer training programs -- there is active community representation on a number of committees, including communications, health care, programs and survivors group. Project team continues public education by speaking to groups around the Maritime Provinces at community groups, universities, etc.

 

Presentation On FSW Facility, Joliette, Quebec - Marie-Andrée Cyrenne, Warden

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  • The Joliette FSW Facility is 70 kms from Montreal. Joliette is an autonomous city with full services, a community network, and a well-established Aboriginal community.
  • Approximately 75-80 percent of federal clientele for Joliette come under the Federal/Provincial Agreement with Maison Tanguay. The women at Maison Tanguay will experience similar problems as those leaving Prison for Women.
  • For example, the women at Maison Tanguay are now released by the Quebec Parole Board, the parallel body to the National Parole Board (NPB); this jurisdiction will transfer to the NPB when Joliette opens. A challenge for Joliette is to ensure all files of Maison Tanguay are in accordance with CSC/NPB policy, etc. This means considerable involvement from Joliette and will require a lot cooperation with Maison Tanguay.
  • By Fall 1995 Joliette will establish a regular presence at Maison Tanguay in order to facilitate the FSW's transition to Joliette, including the changeover of Tanguay's case files to meet CSC policy. Women at Maison Tanguay have concerns regarding day-to-day issues and we have to do some work with Maison Tanguay to ensure the transition is as painless as possible for them.
  • The tentative opening of Joliette is planned for Spring 1996. The first contract has just been awarded and construction will start soon. The first women will arrive shortly after opening.
  • The Joliette facility will have a total 80 rooms : 10 for children and 70 for FSW. The enhanced unit has 12 rooms, 6 of which are for those with violent behaviour and 6 for reception/intake.
  • All the FSW Facilities have a similar organizational structure. Unique to Joliette are the 43 person-years, of which 25 are Primary Workers. The organizational structure offers many challenges. The same person will have a variety of responsibilities. Services will be shared so as not to be compartmentalized.
  • The community of Joliette has welcomed the facility and this is important to staff. We have contacts with local community resources. A Citizen Advisory Committee is being established together with other groups.
  • The local media is supportive and beyond Joliette, the Quebec media has focused on the Mother/Child Program, which has been featured on Enjeux and in The Gazette. Both features were relatively positive.

 

Presentation On Fsw Facility, Kitchener, Ontario - Marie-Andrée Drouin, Warden

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  • The $9 million construction contract for the Kitchener Facility was awarded November 17, 1994 with a London-based firm. The construction, which began in late November 1994, is scheduled to be completed by January 1996, and the facility should be operational in the Spring 1996.
  • There was initial apprehension regarding the opposition to the facility, however, this opposition has dissipated with the beginning of construction.
  • The committees involved were transformed accordingly with the implementation/construction of the facility. The Public Advisory Committee, which had been formed in 1992, evolved into the Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC). There is good representation on the CAC from the immediate neighbourhood - 4 out of a total of 13 members. Of the 4, two were previously co-chairing an opposition group.
  • One of the first tasks for the Citizen Advisory Committee will be brainstorming for the naming of the Kitchener facility.
  • The Programs and Services Committee, which was also established in 1992, has evolved into nine concrete, task-oriented groups. These task groups are all spearheaded by community members. Their role is to help identify and establish programs and services in their respective areas.
  • Considerable interest from the community to work in volunteer programs and have received many applications for employment from the local community. Hope to hire at least 50 percent of the staff from the local community.
  • There will be a three-month transition phase and this will focus on: staff training; contingency planning; verification of the equipment on-site; transferring of small groups of FSW. This will provide for a gradual transition for staff and FSW. The transfer of women from Prison for Women was suggested by a FSW during her meeting with the FSW incarcerated there. She and the Associate Warden hold monthly meetings with the FSW at Prison for Women to try involve them in the process.
  • Overheads and slides of the Kitchener site and design: The facility is located on 24 acres of land. There will be an 8 foot chain link fence around the perimeter and there will be a 4 foot high chain link intrusion detection device. Landscaping will ensure privacy of both the FSW and the community. All doors and windows will be alarmed, and at the back there will be an area for recreational activities.
  • There will be nine houses with eight bedrooms each, in addition to the enhanced unit with a capacity of 12 beds. Ten beds will be provided for children.
  • The recreational area can be restricted to the community only, if required. In terms of vocational areas, there will be access to three different vocational areas. Non-traditional occupations are currently being explored, including restoration of artifacts for Heritage Village.
  • D. Schlichter (Community Representative) made some additional comments with regard to the neighbourhood reaction to the site selection, emphasizing that a community has many voices, and the media generally reports only the most sensational. There are many community members who advocated the Kitchener site for many reasons and it has led to a positive result.
  • Difficult issues encountered to date and issues arising from the public:
    • There is considerable outcry that women are not victims and should not be portrayed this way. We want to project an image that women are accountable for their actions, but that we need provide a healing environment.
    • Some of the public have challenged having children on-site at the facility; or have advocated the possibility of having co-ed facilities given the small number of FSW.
    • Many people are quick to raise the sensational cases of violent women without differentiating between male and female.
    • Will be difficult not to replicate Prison for Women at Kitchener -- We want to bring best practices from Prison for Women and leave worst behind. There are transitional issues which are of concern to the FSW at Prison for Women. For example, they want to know where they are going and whether they will retain certain privileges that they now have.

 

Presentation On Fsw Facility, Edmonton, Alberta - Jan Fox, Warden

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  • Initial comment affirming all the Wardens’ belief that it is a matter of public education, not bending to public pressure, with regard to the new facilities. We must educate the public because when they read Creating Choices, they tend to focus on the "victim" element, rather than on the empowerment element and the need to have the women make responsible choices.
  • Public consultation process has been important in the implementation of the Edmonton facility. Their vision is that it becomes a community-based facility, as this connection is central to its success. They have been committed to community involvement in every aspect of the facility. This will allow for high quality women's programs and services of which Edmonton offers a varied and considerable amount.
  • While there was considerable opposition to the Edmonton site, the public consultation process provided an important opportunity to meet with the community, educate them, and get them involved in the implementation of the facility.
  • Public consultation has also resulted in many potential joint venture opportunities in terms of employment on work releases or gaining meaningful work experience inside the facility, in preparation for employment upon release.
  • A strong network of volunteers has been established in various areas, including the children's program area, mentoring, business entrepreneurial program, etc. Strong linkages have been made through the academic and business community.
  • Three separate advisory committees were formed with distinct roles and contributions during implementation: Citizen Advisory Committee (those that live near the facility); Program Advisory Committee (those who deliver women-centred programs in the community of Edmonton); and the Aboriginal Advisory Committee. Upon opening of the facility, a main advisory committee will likely be formed with representatives from all of the groups.
  • The Citizen Advisory Committee has about 35 members representing all aspects of the community (schools, churches, community policing, seniors, business, etc.).
  • The Aboriginal Advisory Committee is particularly important in Edmonton given that approximately 35 percent of the women will be Aboriginal. This Committee was consulted on the design of the facility and is working with CSC with regards to program developments and staffing. They have been of assistance in establishing a network of female Elders to go to the facility. They are planning a blessing of the land ceremony before construction begins.
  • Joint arrangement has been undertaken with the community and CSC for recreational facilities. The design of the buildings allows for community access.
  • Construction planning is on schedule and the facility will be opening between October-December 1995. Tendering documents have been prepared for construction of the facilities. Transfer of some of the women will occur prior to completion of construction.
  • Currently in the process of staffing the Primary Worker positions. Expect to hire approximately 25 people at the entry level position. Administration and team leader positions will be hired in Spring 1995.
  • Repatriation effort in Prairies - In the last year, no new Prairies women have been sent to the Prison for Women. They have instead been sent to male facilities in the Prairie Region, including the Regional Psychiatric Centre and Saskatchewan Penitentiary. As well, some women have been repatriated from the provincial institutions to facilitate family contact, etc.
  • Having the women in a male facility is not an ideal situation; however, the women expressed the difficulties of being at Prison for Women and far from home, and this was the best interim solution. While difficulties have arisen with this situation, efforts are being made to address the problematic issues encountered. There have been some positive aspects to this in that the Edmonton team has been able to become more familiar with the women; pilot planned programs; and consultation and discussion is more accessible and meaningful.
  • Has found nothing in Creating Choices to be conceptually unfeasible. They were unable to include a daycare for cost reasons; however, this is included in the design for the future. One controversial issue was increasing the size of the enhanced unit, however, they have not moved far away from the principles enunciated in Creating Choices.
  • Education of National Parole Board has been occurring as generally they are unfamiliar with women's issues and dealing with women offenders.
  • The Mother-Child Program was raised recently in the media in Edmonton, however, following several radio interviews by the Warden on the subject, any potential controversy seems to have been diminished.
  • R. Boehm (Community Representative) emphasized the importance of community consultation in the progress and integration of the facility in Edmonton. The members of the Program Advisory committees come from a wide variety of background, including a federally sentenced women, and are kept well-informed on all matters regarding the institution. Terms of Reference have been developed for the Program Advisory Committee and are available to other facilities' Program Advisory Committees if they would like to refer to them. A representative of the Program Advisory Committee will be involved in staff selection. They will be involved in ensuring the varied multicultural/racism issues are addressed. Encourages contact among her community counterparts for the other FSW facilities.

 

Healing Lodge, Maple Creek, Saskatchewan - Norma Green, Kikawinaw

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  • The Healing Lodge is a unique facility initiated by the Planning Circle in June 1992 to meet the needs of federally sentenced Aboriginal women and work towards holistic healing.
  • Also unique in terms of the terminology given to the staff positions, which have been replaced by Aboriginal names, including "Kikawinaw" ("Our Mother" in Cree) which replaces the term "Warden". Total of 26 staff in a non-hierarchical organization.
  • 30-bed facility situation on 164 acres of Nekaneet territory in Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, near the large centres of Medicine Hat and Swift Current. The Cypress Hills area is considered to be a very sacred place and appropriate for the Healing Lodge.
  • Construction started in late August 1994 and is on schedule. It will be completed in late July 1995, with the doors opening in August 1995. Plans for the opening ceremony are for August 23-24, 1995. The eagle design of the facility (which can be seen from overhead) is very spiritual and unique.
  • Eight three bedroom units; and 6 two-bedroom units; a visiting unit; one two-bedroom safe house and another safe room in the administration building. There will be 8-10 children of the women at the Healing Lodge which is important in terms of the women's progress.
  • Staffing process was undertaken to ensure candidates were sensitive to women's and Aboriginal issues.
  • Training Plan for candidates in staff selection (evaluated after each phase) - Phase 1: 28-day spent at a treatment centre as clients in order to heal themselves first. Phase 2: Self-development/self-growth; co-dependency; anger management, etc. Phase 3: Correctional Training Program. 68% of the trainees are of Aboriginal ancestry; and many are from the Maple Creek area.
  • Elders will be on-site; resource Elder; and on-call Elder.
  • The community of Maple Creek is very supportive of the Healing Lodge. It is a farming community of approximately 2,400 people. Community esources will be used for programming, e.g. quilt making; "Adopt a relative" program for visiting.
  • They will be setting up an advisory committee and a Citizen Advisory Committee will be established in future.
  • Approximately 220 questionnaires were sent out to the FSW requesting information on who would like to go to the Healing Lodge, program needs, etc. This information will be used in program development. All programs will have Aboriginal content, and for parole purposes, they will ensure core programs are provided.
  • Have been keeping close contact with Aboriginal women in Prison for Women to provide support; get to know them before reading their report; act as a sounding board, etc. Will assure that intake assessment is women-centred and culturally relevant and that the safety and security of the public is taken into consideration.
  • Will ensure that Aboriginal women going to Healing Lodge know it will be hard work - to heal - and that commitment to this is the most important part of their decision to go there.
  • Developing other types of programs and work placements - medicinal herbs are in the area can be used for both vocational training and healing; herb drying; Aboriginal crafts; venture with Parks Canada for training to work at Fort Walsh. Want to ensure a very safe and supportive environment for the women.