Correctional programs for women

Women offenders have unique needs that impact the way they respond to correctional programs. The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) offers programs for women offenders within a women-centered perspective. This ensures that women's social realities and the context of their lives are recognized. These programs address problematic behaviour linked to crime, such as:

  • violence
  • general crime
  • substance abuse, and
  • sexual offending

They use a holistic approach and they include:

These programs form a continuum of care, which provides women with support from their admission through to the end of their sentences.

At intake, CSC assesses women and then assigns them to programs that match their needs and level of risk.

Focus of women’s programming

Programs for women offenders focus on helping them understand the impact of their behaviour in different situations and relationships. The goal is to help women to prepare for and build a balanced and crime-free lifestyle after their release.

There are both Indigenous-specific and non-Indigenous correctional program options. Indigenous women can participate in either stream.

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Engagement programs

The Women’s Engagement Program (WEP) is a low-intensity, introductory program. CSC delivers it as a readiness program for all women admitted into a federal institution. The goals of the program are to motivate participants to change and to introduce all of the integrated skills which are used throughout the Continuum of Care.

It focuses on:

  • welcoming women to the institutional community
  • engaging them in their own rehabilitation, and
  • raising their awareness of problematic behaviours linked to crime

Women offenders learn:

  • a variety of integrated skills, which encompass strategies for change
  • how to manage their emotions, set goals, and problem solve
  • how to communicate with others

Finally, the program introduces the concept of the self-management plan.

The WEP targets all women offenders and is a prerequisite for all subsequent correctional programming.

The program:

  • has a total of 12 sessions
  • is delivered by a single facilitator
  • accommodates groups of up to 10 participants
  • has up to 5 sessions per week

Indigenous Women’s Engagement Program details the Indigenous version of this program.

Moderate intensity programs

The Women Offender Moderate Intensity Program builds on the knowledge gained in WEP. CSC encourages women to:

  • take part in their own rehabilitation
  • focus on changing behaviours and
  • work towards short- and long-term goals

It teaches the skills they need to address their problematic behaviours. Women learn and practice, amongst other skills:

  • emotion management
  • problem-solving
  • conflict resolution
  • communication skills

They learn the importance of positive and healthy relationships. Women offenders continue to develop self-management plans, which include skills and strategies to help them adopt a positive lifestyle.

The program:

  • has 40 group sessions plus 5 individual sessions
  • is delivered by a single facilitator
  • accommodates groups of up to 10 participants
  • has up to 6 sessions per week

Indigenous Women Offender Moderate Intensity Program details the Indigenous version of this program.

High intensity programs

The Women Offender High Intensity Program (WO-HIP) is for women CSC assesses as having a high risk of reoffending.

The program builds on the WO-MIP. Women assessed as high risk complete the moderate intensity program before taking the high intensity program. The focus is on practicing and developing the skills and strategies learned in previous programs. To address problematic behaviour linked to crime, the women continue to learn and practice, amongst other skills:

  • emotion management
  • problem-solving
  • conflict resolution
  • communication skills

The program emphasizes the importance of positive and healthy relationships. The women continue developing their self-management plan, which includes skills and strategies to help them adopt a positive lifestyle.

The program:

  • has 52 group sessions and 5 individual sessions
  • may be delivered by two facilitators
  • accommodates groups of up to 12 participants
  • has up to 6 sessions per week

Indigenous Women Offender High Intensity Program details the Indigenous version of this program.

Self-management programs

The Women Offender Self-Management Program (WO-SMP) supports women as they continue to make and maintain changes in their lives. It is the final program in the continuum of care.

It focuses on:

  • enhancing strengths
  • solidifying skills and strategies, and
  • increasing self-awareness

The women develop, implement and strengthen their self-management plan.

They also learn to:

  • identify obstacles
  • set goals, and
  • problem solve

It is offered both in the institution and in the community.

The institutional WO-SMP is open to all women who have completed pre-requisite programs. This includes WEP and any other programs CSC has referred them to.

In the community, the program serves as a refresher program and continues to support the women after they leave the institution. Women without any pre-requisite programming can engage in WO-SMP in the community if an assessment indicates that they require it.

The program:

  • has a total of 12 weekly sessions
  • is delivered by a single facilitator
  • accommodates groups of up to 10 participants

Indigenous Women Offender Self-management Program details the Indigenous version of this program.

Women’s Sex Offender Program

The Women’s Sex Offender Program (WSOP) targets women who:

  • have offended sexually, and
  • are assessed as having a moderate or high risk to reoffend

A psychologist completes a psychological risk assessment for each woman.

The program:

  • focuses on improving women's ability to use skills and coping strategies
  • provides opportunities to practice these abilities as they address:
    • their sexual offending
    • other problematic behaviours linked to crime

The program takes a holistic approach. It considers sexual offending and problematic behaviour in conjunction with other problem areas faced by women who sexually offend, including:

  • violence
  • substance abuse
  • trauma
  • relationship issues

The program:

  • has a total of 59 sessions
  • is delivered by a single facilitator
  • accommodates groups of up to 10 participants
  • has up to 6 sessions per week

Before taking the WSOP, women offenders who have offended sexually and are at high risk to reoffend must complete either:

Women’s Modular Intervention

The Women's Modular Intervention is for women living in secure units. The goal of the program is for women to develop behaviours that lead to pro-social outcomes. The program consists of 15 separate modules. CSC designed 5 modules specifically for Indigenous women offenders. There is:

  • an initial interview
  • a motivation for change session, and
  • individual sessions after each module

The program allows women to address their specific need areas. They:

  • make healing or self-management plans, and
  • complete only the modules identified as linked to their specific risk factors

Typically, each module has 4 one-hour sessions. The modules can be delivered to small groups or on an individual basis.

Policy and legislation

Commissioner’s directives and guidelines

CD 700 Correctional Interventions applies to all staff involved in correctional interventions. It outlines their responsibilities and the procedures associated with the correctional intervention process.

CD 726 Correctional Programs outlines the purpose and procedures for all correctional programs delivered in our institutions. The process includes assessments, planning, interventions, and decision-making.

Legislation

Corrections and Conditional Release Act, Sections 3, 3.1, 4, 5(b), 15.1, 26, 76, 77, 79 and 80 outline information about programs for offenders.

Corrections and Conditional Release Regulations, Section 102 states that CSC must include program requirements for inmates in their correctional plans.

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