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Women Offender Programs and Issues

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

Supervision Status

Current Caseload

Supervisors were asked how many FSW they were currently supervising. There were 118 FSW being supervised, however 3 respondants did not respond to this question. These three respondents would presumably account for the "missing" 8 FSW that are reported on in other areas of this document.


The number of FSW supervised by one supervisor ranged from 1 to 19. Most supervisors were directly supervising one FSW (n=36) or two FSW (n=10). The average number of FSW being directly supervised by one supervisor is 2. Regional trends are not significantly different and can be noted in Appendix C.

# of FSW/caseload (direct) # who have this many FSW on their caseload Subtotal of FSW
1 FSW 36 36
2 FSW 10 20
3 FSW 7 21
4 FSW 1 4
5 FSW 2 10
6 FSW 1 6
8 FSW 1 8
19 FSW 1 19
No Response 3 .
Total # FSW currently supervised


Supervisors were also questioned regarding the number of FSW they were indirectly supervising. Indirect supervision means that the FSW is not reporting directly to this particular supervisor, but would be reporting to an agency worker such as an Elizabeth Fry employee. Only six women in the community at the time of the survey were currently being indirectly supervised. Regional trends are provided in Appendix C.

# of FSW/caseload (indirect) Number who have this many FSW on their caseload Subtotal of FSW
None 60 0
1 FSW 1 1
5 FSW 1 5
Total # FSW currently supervised

Caseload: Past Three Years


Caseloads have averaged from 1 to 24 FSW per supervisor over the past three years. The average number of FSW per caseload was 5. Most supervisors were managing 1 (n=21) or 2 (n=11) women. There have been 194 FSW directly supervised by those surveyed in the past three years. Note Appendix D for further clarification according to region.

Number of FSW/Caseload (direct) Number who have this many FSW on their caseload Subtotal of FSW
1 FSW 21 21
2 FSW 11 22
3 FSW 9 27
4 FSW 4 16
5 FSW 4 20
6 FSW 3 18
7 FSW 1 7
8 FSW 2 16
10 FSW 2 20
24 FSW 1 24
No Response 3 3


Fifty FSW have been indirectly supervised in the community over the past three years. The majority of supervisors have not indirectly supervised a FSW.

Number of FSW/Caseload (indirect) Number who have this many women on their caseload Subtotal of FSW
None 54 0
1 FSW 3 3
3 FSW 1 3
4 FSW 1 4
5 FSW 1 5
35 FSW 1 35

Proportion Of FSW On Caseloads

Supervisors were asked what proportion of their total caseload (men and women) currently included FSW cases. The Prairies reported the largest proportion of FSW on their caseload (23%). Quebec and Ontario had comparable proportions of women on their caseload with 19% and 18% respectively. The Pacific had 12% of their caseload occupied with FSW, and the Atlantic Region report 8%. On average, 16% of caseloads across the country are FSW.

Prairies 23
Quebec 19
Ontario 18
Pacific 12
Atlantic 8

Risk Levels

Some offenders when released into the community are more likely than others to re-offend. Those individuals who are considered to be more likely to commit a crime again are considered "higher risk" for re-offending. This does not mean that if an individual committed a violent offense in the past they are automatically at a high risk for re-offending. There are other characteristics and situational factors that should be considered before assessing an individual as high or low risk.

Supervisors were asked what they felt was the overall level of risk this client presented to the community. The majority of FSW in the community (92%) were considered as being medium or low risk for re-offending. Only 8% were considered "high" risk.

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Higher risk cases required more supervision time (p=.000). Also, a client who required more time to be supervised was more likely to have more scheduled visits. Those who required more supervision time got more visits, but not longer ones. This may seem intuitively obvious, however, it is not always the case that those clients who require more time actually receive more services.

There was no relationship between risk levels of the FSW and where meetings with their supervisor took place, the nature of the index crime (violent vs. non-violent), being a primary caregiver, marital status, employment situation, release type, location of residence or region.

Risk Assessment

There were several options by which the supervisor could assess the risk level of their client. They were asked to rank the top three "methods" by which they were making this "classification". The overwhelming majority of the supervisors based their decisions on subjective measures such as the women's attitude, her reintegration potential into the community and the level of commitment that the supervisor felt the FSW was exuding. Interestingly, objective risk assessment measures were used only 7% of the time to formulate judgments concerning risk levels of the FSW in the community.

Basis for Decision % used this "Method"
Overall attitude 26
Ability to Reintegrate 24
Level of Commitment 21
Behavior in Program 10
Behavior in Residence 8
Objective risk assessments 7
Prior Criminal Record 2
Length of Time in the Community 1
Health/Psychological Status <1
Available Support System for FSW in community. <1

Needs Level

When Federally Sentenced Women are released to the community they are sometimes in need of direct intervention through appropriate services to deal with problems that they are experiencing in their life. Thirty three percent of the women surveyed were classified as having high needs. Sixty eight percent had average to low needs levels.

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There was a significant association between financial assistance (p<.01), level of education (p<.05), employment status (p<.05), level of risk (p=.000) and amount of supervision time (p=.000). That is women with higher needs had less education, were more likely to be unemployed, received financial assistance, were assessed as a higher level of risk and required more time to supervise. There was no relationship with their marital status and having responsibility for children.

Information Received Prior To Release

Supervisors were asked to rate how accurate they felt the information was which they received prior to the FSW's release into the community, e.g., progress reports, assessments. Eighty five percent of those surveyed felt the information they received prior to the FSW release was accurate. Only five percent thought it to be inaccurate.

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Supervision Time

Time spent out in the community by FSW ranged from less than one month to over three years at the time of the survey. The slight majority of women had been out in the community for less than six months (52%). There was a somewhat even dispersion of FSW having been in the community from six months to over three years.

< 1 month 3
1 - 2 months 25
3 - 4 months 14
5 - 6 months 10
7 - 10 months 12
11 - 12 months 5
13 - 18 months 9
19 - 24 months 10
25 - 36 months 7
+ 36 months 5

Those women who were in the community for a shorter period of time required more visits with their supervisor, but not for longer periods of time. However, FSW in the community for less than six months were reported as requiring more time overall in their supervision than the average client in their caseload. There was no relationship between time out and level of risk/need of the FSW.

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Length Of Meetings

Most (65%) of the meetings between supervisors and FSW last between 15 and 45 minutes. Meetings ranged from as short as 15 minutes to between 1 to 2 hours.

There are significant differences among regions regarding the length of meetings. Ontario and the Prairies are generally keeping their meetings between 15 and 45 minutes, the other areas seem to vary more in time spent in the meetings.

Meeting length are not related to the need or risk level of the client. This would be disconcerting when one considers the "risk/need principle" as clients with higher risk/needs should receive more intensive services than those who are lower risk/needs. It is noted, however, in other analysis that the client may be receiving the appropriate intensity of services by receiving more visits (p=.000) instead of longer visits.

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Interestingly enough, meeting length is highly significant with where the meeting takes place (p=.000). In public places or in the client's home, meetings tend to be 45 minutes and longer; in the work place, they are shorter lasting between 15 and 45 minutes, while telephone "visits" are always under 15 minutes.

Number Of Meetings

The majority (59%) of the FSW are seen by their supervisor 2 or fewer times per month. Those clients assessed to have a higher risk (p<.01) and needs (p<.001) level are more frequently seen.

Undisplayed Graphic

Location Of Meetings

The majority of visits are taking place either at the supervisor's place of employment (34%) or at the client's home (38%). A substantial number (23%) of the sample are meeting at various locations, while very few (<5%) are meeting at the client's work place, a public place or on the phone. There are no statistical differences among regions regarding the location of the visits.

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Topics For Discussion

Topics discussed at monthly visits vary tremendously. The one topic that continues to be the most important, however, is that of social adjustment (26%).

Social adjustment includes relationship issues, emotional state, coping with stress, future goals/plans, and finding support in the community. Note the category "quiet" in the graph below indicates the FSW is quiet in the meeting and does not initiate discussion regarding any topic.

Undisplayed Graphic

There appears to be a relationship between topics discussed and the level of need of the FSW (p<.05). Those individuals classified with higher needs tended to discuss alcohol/substance abuse issues and social adjustment the most, while "average" needs level clients centered more on social adjustment and lower needs level individuals talked about employment issues. This may be a significant reminder that when implementing and offering programs, different services may be more pertinent to different needs levels than others. There was no association between risk level and topics discussed at meetings.

Assistance From Supervisors

Supervisors were asked what assistance they have provided for the FSW in the community. It was not clear if this question was fully understood, therefore, results from this question should be interpreted with caution. Note: an individual could receive assistance in more than one area (see table below).

Sixty percent of FSW in the community required assistance with coping with daily demands/stresses. There was no relationship between those who required assistance with adapting with the daily demands of life and being a primary caregiver, marital status, receiving financial assistance, employment status. There was, however, a significant association with the level of need (p<.01) and assessed risk level (p<.05).

Area of Assistance % who received assistance
Daily Demands 60
Employment 48
Referral to program not part of release 44
Finance 43
Housing 28
Referral to Social Worker 27
Health/Fitness 23
Legal 21
Child care 21

Forty eight percent of the women surveyed required help with employment issues. There was no association with those requiring employment assistance and need level, risk level, location of residence, education completed, marital status or being a primary caregiver. Not surprisingly, there was a relationship with their employment status (p<.05).

Twenty one (21%) percent of the sample received assistance with child care demands. Child care assistance was significantly associated with being a primary caregiver (p<.001), level of need (p<.001), level of risk (p<.001), region (p<.05), assistance with finances (p<.05) and employment (p<.05).

Forty three percent of the women needed help regarding financial assistance. This was independent of region, marital status, caregiver status, needs level and assessed risk.

Twenty eight percent received help from their supervisor regarding housing assistance. This was not related to region, marital status, caregiver status, level of needs or risk, or accommodations where the FSW was residing at the time.