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Women Offender Programs and Issues

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Implementing Choices at Regional Facilities: Program Proposals for Women Offenders with Special Needs


The proposed psychosocial rehabilitation program for women with basic skill needs and cognitive challenges and the dialectical behaviour therapy program for women with emotional distress needs and severe behavioural difficulties represent important new initiatives in relation to realizing the vision that was initially defined in Creating Choices by the Task Force on Federally Sentenced Women (1990). Up to this point the regional facilities have only provided one living option that has not met the needs of women with special mental health difficulties. As the result, these women have either ended up in difficult and often explosive situations in the regional facilities or have had to remain in maximum-security facilities. These two program models are a major step toward actually implementing choices at the regional facilities. They require more resources than is now allocated to programs at the regional facilities, but they require fewer resources than what is now allocated to maximum-security facilities. It must be recognized that these models will only be effective if they have quality staff and a significant level of resources committed to them. The costs will be much higher if these women have to remain in maximum-security facilities or serious incidents result from insufficient support for them at the regional facilities. In the long run these programs offer the promise of helping these women to make a successful transition to the community, for their own benefit and that of the society.