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Women Offender Programs and Issues

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Federally Sentenced Women Maximum Security Interview Project: "Not Letting the Time Do You"

PART C: STAFF PERSPECTIVES

Although the predominant focus of the present research is on the perspectives of non-Aboriginal maximum security women offenders, the views of staff who work with these women were also considered critical in this initiative and were therefore sought in order to augment the picture. The inclusion of staff perspectives supports a more comprehensive exploration of the situation with respect to maximum security women offenders. As stated in Section 1, personal interviews and focus groups were conducted with CSC front-line and operational staff, mental health and psychology staff, and management in each institution where women were interviewed. These staff perspectives are significant both in areas where they reinforce the analysis contributed by the women and in areas where there are important contrasts.

For various methodological reasons, but particularly given that the focus of this study is on the inmates' perspectives, staff perspectives are summarized and presented here in the form of dominant themes; unless otherwise identified, these themes represent a majority of the staff interviewed. These prevalent themes are captured under the following headings: Identification and Needs of Maximum Security Women, Intervention, and Staff Needs/Issues. Again, direct quotations from the staff interviewed are included in this section. However, due to privacy concerns, the difficulty in distinguishing voices from the audio-tapes of the focus groups, and contribution from more than one staff in a focus group, staff positions are not identified in the quotes presented.

Several overriding perspectives emerged in the staff interviews and are evident throughout this entire section. Specifically, staff identified the (non-Aboriginal) maximum security women population as heterogeneous, recognized the uniqueness of this population with respect to the issues the women presented, considered it essential that interventions be specifically tailored to this population, and emphasized the demands on staff with respect to managing this population. Based on their experience with maximum security women's attitudes and behaviours, staff expressed their serious concern that these women could influence, disrupt, or disadvantage medium and minimum security women in the regional facilities. This was a concern regardless of whether it was felt that the structure of the regional facilities could be altered to accommodate these women.