History of Women's Corrections

From 1934-2000, the maximum-security Prison for Women in Kingston, Ontario was the only federal institution for women offenders in Canada. All federal women offenders, regardless of security level, were housed at the Prison for Women. Beginning in the 1950s, a variety of task forces and Royal Commissions examined the disadvantaged situation of these women.

Throughout that time, there were many requests to close the Prison for Women. Concerns included the lack of a multi-level security environment and the distance between many women and their families and home communities.

In 1989, the federal government commissioned a task force to review the overall situation of women offenders and to chart a new direction. The Report of the Task Force on Federally Sentenced Women, entitled Creating Choices, was released in April 1990. The report made a number of recommendations, including:

  • Closing the Prison for Women
  • Opening regional institutions and an Aboriginal healing lodge where women-centered programming would be available
  • Developing a community strategy for women offenders

In 1990, the federal government accepted the Task Force Report recommendations and began implementing them. Between 1995 and 2004, six correctional facilities for women offenders were opened in regions across the country. On May 8, 2000, the last inmate was transferred from the Prison for Women.

The position of Deputy Commissioner for Women (DCW) was created in 1996. The DCW provides support, advice and guidance to staff on women offender issues, and leadership on program and policy development and implementation. Today, CSC works with various stakeholders to monitor and advise on operational activities at the institutional and community levels.