Message from the Solicitor General of Canada

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End of an Era, the closing of the Prison for Women in Kingston

The Prison for Women was officially opened in 1934 as the answer to the problem of what to do with women under federal sentence in Canada. For the first time, women inmates would have a separate facility of their own.

High expectations were overcome by the realities of the time. The deficiencies in the design of the prison continued to hamper rehabilitation efforts. Also, many of the women incarcerated at the Prison for Women had to bear the additional hardship of being separated from their communities and families, including, in some cases, from their children.

Staff at the Prison for Women, many of whom served there throughout their entire careers, often worked under difficult and stressful circumstances. Despite these challenges, not only did they strive to provide the offenders in their custody with a safe and secure environment, but in many cases, they made valuable contributions to the offenders' lives and futures. They are to be commended.

With the establishment of the five new women's facilities across the country — four regional centres and one Aboriginal healing lodge — we have entered a new era of corrections for women under federal sentence in Canada. We recognize that women offenders have unique needs as individuals and different needs as a group. It is our responsibility — in fact our duty — to meet those needs. We are doing just that.

Today, the new facilities for federal women offenders offer supportive environments and a wide variety of new, innovative programs. The number of professional staff has been increased. Vocational and educational training courses have been expanded. Volunteers and representatives of non-governmental organizations play an increasingly important role. The offenders are closer to their support networks and families. I am confident that women offenders will be better for it and our citizens safer.

In closing, I can only add that we could not have gotten to this point without the contributions made by the staff and management, past and present, of the Prison for Women. On behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians, I would like to offer my sincere thanks.

Lawrence MacAulay
Solicitor General of Canada