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Women Offender Programs and Issues

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Report on Self-Injurious Behaviour in the Kingston Prison for Women

Abstract

A study was conducted at the Kingston Prison for Women to guide the development of a therapeutic programme for women who self-injure. 44 prisoners and 41 security staff personnel were interviewed about three programme goals: injury response, injury reduction and suicide identification. Results indicate that self-injury may best be reduced by considering it a sign of emotional distress rather than a security issue, and by shifting the responsibility for its reduction from security to counselling personnel. Results also indicate that self-injuring prisoners often seek emotional support from their peers, and that this support should be acknowledged and legitimized. It was recommended that a programme be developed to train prisoners as peer counsellors. This programme is designed to provide on-going support and skill development for these prisoner counsellors.