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The Transformation of Federal Corrections for Women

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Where Are We Headed?

Intensive Intervention Strategy for High Needs Women

In 1996, shortly after the opening of the first new regional facilities for women offenders, it became evident that a small portion of the population (approximately 15%) was unable to function in a community-style living environment. As an interim measure, CSC transferred maximum security women requiring a greater degree of structure and control to three units co-located within existing men's facilities in Saskatchewan, Quebec, and Nova Scotia. These units are physically separate from the remainder of the facility. Minimum and medium security women requiring long-term intensive mental health treatment were transferred to mental health units at the Regional Psychiatric Centre in Saskatchewan and the Prison for Women in Ontario.

At the time of their transfer, the Correctional Service of Canada made a commitment to develop a national strategy for high risk, high needs women. Details of this strategy, announced by Solicitor General Lawrence MacAulay on September 3, 1999, are as follows:

  • the regional facilities' Enhanced Security units will be modified to accommodate maximum security women who require a greater degree of structure and control. These units will be physically separate from the remainder of the facility, but will be located within its existing perimeter. Specialized staff will provide high-level intervention and supervision;
  • a Structured Living Environment house will be constructed at each regional facility to accommodate minimum and medium security women with special needs and/or mental health problems. These houses will provide 24-hour staff support and supervision; and
  • specialized programming will be provided to both populations.

To implement the above, CSC will develop operational plans, program models, and a human resources strategy. All units are expected to be operational by September 2001.

The Intensive Intervention Strategy will ultimately result in the closure of Prison for Women and the units co-located within existing men's facilities.

Community Corrections Strategy

In September 1999, there were 855 women serving federal sentences in Canada. Of those, 354 were incarcerated in an institution, and the remainder (501) were on conditional release in the community. The opening of the new regional women's facilities has not had a negative impact on the balance between the incarcerated and community populations. Since 1990, regions have implemented new community initiatives and expanded community services to better meet the needs of women in the community. CSC is now developing an enhanced Community Corrections Strategy to ensure that the successful reintegration of women offenders is supported through a coherent national framework.

As part of this project, a community corrections resource review will be conducted to ensure that appropriate and effective service delivery to conditionally released women is maintained.