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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

Phase-Out Of Prison For Women And Transition Plan - Thérèse Leblanc, Warden

  • We are arriving at a very historical moment for FSW, and it will be a great pleasure to close the Prison for Women, but it must be accomplished with honour and dignity. Despite the many difficulties that the Prison has experienced, perhaps created and lived with, we have to remember that it has been the home for, at today’s count, 130 women. It has also been the work place for many staff in the Correctional Service of Canada. We cannot devalue this since, for all the negative things that can be said, there are some positive things that should not be negated. To do so would get the new facilities off to a negative start.
  • The decommissioning of the Prison for Women will occur in conjunction with the staff, and opening dates, of the new facilities and repatriation of the Prairies and Quebec FSW. A copy of the decommissioning strategy is available.
  • Still working on getting definite construction completion dates for the new facilities and repatriation in order to start preparing the workload activities at the Prison for Women. It will be a "roller coaster ride" during the transition phase; when each new facility opens, FSW leave and lose familiarity and friendships, and staff also leave.
  • Need to clearly define the criteria for the transfer strategy, and as they start to conduct interviews with the women, it will, for the first time, become a reality for the women that the Prison is actually closing. Also, we must address the privileges which will be available for the FSW at the new facilities so that they may be informed ahead of time.
  • There are volumes of case file information that will need to be brought up to date prior to the women leaving the Prison, and an effective transfer of information so that the staff in the new facilities may know the women very well.
  • Redeployment of staff must be addressed in detail, so that they may plan for the future.
  • Plans for the physical decommissioning of Prison for Women will follow.
  • Communication Strategy is being developed for the Prison for Women to ensure the FSW are informed about its closure and opening of the new facilities; this must also address staff communication. An Operational Implementation group needs to be formed to outline all affected areas.
  • Communication strategy for the FSW - they require a lot of information and all committees involved in the transition of the Prison must provide the same information to them. A committee for each new facility will be established to give a focus point for information sharing. A steering committee will also be established with community and CSC representation.
  • The transition is drawing nearer and we must help the women through this phase to help them deal with the realities that they will be leaving. Transition programming is being planned to help the women in this regard. As we all work towards the successful opening of the new facilities, we also have to work towards the successful closing of the Prison for Women. We must do this with consistent messages, listening to the needs of the women, and addressing the issues of the staff who are also going through a major change in their lives.