Profile of Women Offenders

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

When Creating Choices was released in 1990, about 210 women were incarcerated under federal sentence. Today there are approximately 350 women incarcerated, while another 500 are being supervised in the community on conditional release.

Though their ages range from late teens to their eighties, 51 percent of incarcerated women are between the ages of 20 and 34. Twenty-three percent of the women are Aboriginal, 9 percent are black, 2 percent are Asiatic and 57 percent are Caucasian (9 percent are other or not stated). The community percentages reflect the incarcerated percentages except for Aboriginal women who make up only 14 percent of the community population.

Of incarcerated women, 18 percent are serving sentences for first- or second-degree murder (life sentences); 45 percent are serving sentences for Schedule 1 offences (crimes against persons); and 25 percent are serving sentences for Schedule 2 offences (drug-related crimes). The majority, 63 percent, are serving sentences of two to six years. Eighty-four percent are serving their first federal sentence (two years or more) and the majority are single.

Data collected during the Creating Choices Task Force showed that between 50 to 90 percent of the women had been victims of sexual or physical abuse, with Aboriginal women being the most affected. About two-thirds of the women were misusing drugs or alcohol at the time of their offence.