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Women Offender Programs and Issues

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The Cross Gender Monitoring Project
3rd and Final Annual Report

a) Introduction

When Madam Justice Arbour examined the issue of cross gender staffing in the 1996 Commission of Inquiry Into Certain Events at the Prison for Women, she acknowledged two arguments in favour of cross gender staffing: equality of opportunity and the "normalizing" effect of having men work in FSW facilities. With respect to arguments against cross gender staffing, she cited evidence presented to the Commission by FSW and Stakeholders, that past histories of abuse would be amplified or re-stimulated by men on the front-line and would interfere with their healing from these histories of abuse. She also cited concerns that the presence of men would lead to an increased number of privacy violations. In the end, she did allow the status quo of cross gender staffing to continue but only if certain safeguards were to be put in place:

On balance, however, I am not persuaded that the Correctional Service staffing should be interfered with at this stage. In my view, the key to the success of gender integration in the living units of correctional facilities for women lies in staff selection and training, explicit working protocols and adequate monitoring. Based on the material presented to me, I am satisfied with the selection and training process for the new facilities. I am concerned, however, that the same process not be dismantled after the hiring of the first group for the new facilities. Again, because the numbers are so small there is a risk that replacement staff in the years to come may not receive the intensive training that has characterized the start-up phase of the operations.14

The Cross Gender Monitoring Project's mandate has been to assess the systemic impact of cross gender staffing on FSW and staff, to identify operational and policy issues and to forward appropriate recommendations. Implicit in this assessment is the question of whether present practices regarding selection, training and the implementation of the National Protocol have met the objective of ensuring successful "gender integration". Also implicit in this assessment is the degree to which the presence of male workers in FSW facilities has resulted in incidents of privacy violations and sexual misconduct. The additional question to be addressed is the impact of the presence of male workers on the healing of FSW who have histories of past abuse. It should be noted that during Phase I of the Project, our mandate was extended to include incidents of sexual misconduct on the part of any non-inmate.

This Section will reiterate findings and advance conclusions and recommendations on the effectiveness of selection, training and CSC's National Protocol for Front-Line Staffing in the CSC Women's Institutions and Maximum Security Units, otherwise known as the cross gender policy. Based on the information we gathered over the three years of this project, we will weigh the degree to which screening, training and protocols are addressing successful gender integration and whether these measures are being and can be expected to be maintained. We undertake this analysis within a Canadian and international legal context, applying notions of equality as defined by our courts and as outlined in the Findings section, and assessing the information in light of the general research and literature in this field.

14 Op.cit. p. 216