Correctional Service Canada
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Women Offender Programs and Issues

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Healing The Relationship Between Federally Sentenced Women And Communities

Section D - Initial Review Of Community Advocacy Response-Ability Mechanism

Purpose & Aims
Justice Circles In The Community
Local Circles of Support and Care


Purpose & Aims

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The model is highly consistent with the philosophy advocated in Creating Choices. The model is holistic, woman-centered, culturally sensitive, community oriented, supportive of autonomy/self esteem, oriented towards release, empowers/heals all those affected by offense, and provides sympathetic listeners.



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Overall language in the model should be simplified. Language in model perpetuates stereotypes and misleading constructs:

offender ® women who have engaged in illegal activity
victims ® those negatively impacted by their "actions"
crime ® illegal activity/problems
crime prevention ® quality of life community health
care ® (too peternalistic)
ownership (of release plan) ® involvement (with release plan)
planning "for" ® planning "with"


Justice Circles In The Community

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• The present adversarial justice process is not conducive (psychologically, administratively, logistically) for early formation of justice circles. Some small communities are successful in having the women released to the justice circle where healing begins immediately, however, this is not normative.

• It is essential that the Community Justice Worker #1 be chosen for his/her personal qualities or knowledge of the particular context.

• Specific attention is needed for preparing/supporting the "victim".

• No offender participation, no justice circle.

• An identification process of appropriate participants in justice circles needs to be initiated.


Local Circles of Support and Care

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• Circles must be driven by the FSW and her needs, whoever is significant to her and her situation should be invited to be involved in the "circle".

• Cases involving wife battering, domestic homicide, child abuse, will require careful preparation of participants.

• Local circles could eventually serve several women at a time to help make resource requirements more manageable.

• Situations may occur where the full process is not required or requested.

• Need to be wary of the circle adding length/hurdles to the present integration process of FSW into the community.

• Confidentiality and trust are paramount. Videotaping of either circle would therefore be inappropriate. Also, CSC should be kept at "arms-length" from the CARAM.

• Members of the circle are volunteers, therefore they must feel free to decide for themselves whether to participate in formal community assessments by CSC and to use their own discretion if they do participate. There are no formal accountability mechanisms in place.

• Resources for volunteers needs to be more closely assessed. "How to" manuals, training in "circle communication" and "philosophy of circles" need to be created for coordinators. A paid position for the coordinating function may be eventually required.

• Each justice circle determines its own leadership. A co-led model by FSW and community member is feasible in the future.

• Credibility and availability issues of volunteers has to be evaluated.

• "Lasting empowerment" for long term sentences needs to be addressed for both volunteers and FSW. Commitment for volunteers should be renewed annually and replacements, with compareable linkages, sought before leaving their position.