Women offenders

Women offenders are a small and unique part of the total Canadian federal offender population. To meet their needs, the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) takes a holistic, women-centred approach that prioritizes public safety.

Women's institutions

  • CSC operates five women's institutions across Canada, as well as a healing lodge.
  • All women's institutions are multi-level. These institutions house women offenders classified at minimum, medium and maximum security levels. The healing lodge is only for women at the minimum or medium security level.
  • CSC's safe and supportive environment provides women with opportunities that empower them to live with dignity and respect.
  • We provide the necessary programs and interventions so they can become law-abiding citizens, which creates safer communities for all.
  • Staff working with women offenders receive women-centred training. This helps them to be sensitive to issues that face federally sentenced women and be responsive to their needs.

Offender profile

  • Approximately six per cent of Canadian federal offenders are women.
  • At the end of the 2017-18 fiscal year, there were 676 women in custody in CSC facilities and 721 women under supervision in the community.
  • Indigenous women are over-represented in the federal correctional system. They represent almost 40 per cent of incarcerated women offenders.
  • Compared to the average Canadian, women offenders:
    • have a higher incidence of substance abuse and mental health problems
    • are more likely to have a history of physical and/or sexual abuse.

In custody

  • Most women offenders are serving a sentence of less than five years.
  • In 2017-18, there were 133women serving a life or indeterminate sentence.
  • CSC facilities offer women offenders a variety of correctional, social, employment, and educational programs that are delivered by qualified and trained facilitators.

In the community

  • In 2017-18, more than half of women offenders were under CSC supervision in the community.
  • Women offenders are more likely to be granted day and full parole than their male counterparts.
  • Women offenders in the community have access to community employment services to help them to find meaningful work.

Correctional programs for women

  • CSC offers a variety of programs for women offenders, including programs for Aboriginal women. They are designed to address problems that are specific to women and use a modern, holistic approach.
  • Women offenders have diverse needs that affect the way they respond to correctional programs. As a result, our programs for women offenders consider:
    • their social, economic, and cultural situation in society
    • the importance of relationships in their lives
    • their unique pathways into crime
    • the fact that they are more likely than men to experience trauma, victimization, mental health problems, low self-esteem, and have parenting responsibilities.

Updated January 2019

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