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Women Offender Programs and Issues

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Federally Sentenced Women On Conditional Release: A Survey Of Community Supervisors

Summary Of Findings

At the time of this survey, the typical Federally Sentenced Woman (FSW) on community release was:

• 39 years old

• single

• Caucasian (70%) or Aboriginal (13%)

• released from Prison for Women

• convicted of a violent crime

• sentenced to an average of 3.9. years (excluding Lifers, who represented 21% of sample)

• on Full Parole

• not the primary caregiver of children -- of those who had children in their care, 70% were living with all of them; most children were between 3 and 20 years old.

Although the Atlantic Region had the best response rate to the survey, most FSW in the community were living in Ontario. Most of the women were living in a city, not residing in a residential facility (71%), and their accommodations were non-subsidized housing (37%). Forty eight percent were employed, although 56% had not attained a high school diploma. Most FSW in the community were receiving social assistance.

Most FSW in the community were classified as low/medium risk by their supervisors, based on the women's overall attitude, her potential to re-integrate into the community and her level of commitment to enrolled programs. There was an even distribution of high, medium and low needs levels among the FSW. Supervisors rated information that they received prior to the FSW release as accurate.

Most women were in the community less than six months at the time of the survey. Most FSW were assessed by the supervisor as requiring the same amount of time to be supervised compared with other clients under their supervision at the time. Meetings with the FSW in the community tended to be 15 to 45 minutes in length, two or fewer times a month, at the client's home or at the supervisor's work place. Topics discussed at the meetings varied greatly. Supervisors assisted women in the community with coping with daily demands (60%), employment (48%) and referrals to programs not part of their release plan (44%).

A review of programs that women have participated in during the past three years was also done. (See page 35 for a summary of these programs). Programs suggested for FSW by their supervisors were: education/vocation (37%), community skills (35%), and violence/abuse programs (13%). Women who were not participating in these suggested programs were not doing so mainly because they were not offered in the community (29%), the client was not interested (23%) or because their schedule was too busy to attend (17%).

Finally, programs established in the communities were examined. Substance abuse, counselling programs and community skills were all well utilized. Education, employment, support for victims of violence and treatment for perpetrators of violence were not frequently utilized by the FSW. These trends of program participation were found in all regions. Funding for programs came from two identified sources -- contracts and community services. There was no difference reported between the services provided for provincially sentenced women and FSW. Programs suggested by the respondents for a Community Strategy varied across regions.