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Women Offender Programs and Issues

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Cross Gender Monitoring Project


Information for this report was gathered from a number of sources. These included:

  • interviews with individuals in each facility including staff, inmates, members of Citizen Advisory Committees and community agencies such as Elizabeth Fry Societies;
  • consultation with officials with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, the Correctional Investigator's Office, the Union of Solicitor General Employees and various officials from the Correctional Service Canada, including the Deputy Commissioner for Women's office;
  • site visits to all federal institutions for Federally Sentenced Women and the Burnaby Correctional Centre for Women for interviews;
  • observation of the physical characteristics of facilities for Federally Sentenced Women; and
  • review of relevant documents including CSC policies and information concerning complaints and grievances.

There were two series of site visits to institutions in 1998/99 which focused on different cross gender issues. The first series of site visits was made to the following institutions:

  • Nova Institution for Women in Truro, N.S.;
  • Springhill Institution (for maximum security women) Springhill, N. S.;
  • Joliette Institution in Joliette, Québec;
  • Prison for Women in Kingston, Ont.;
  • Grand Valley Institution in Kitchener Ont.;
  • Saskatchewan Penitentiary (for maximum security women) in Prince Albert, Sask.;
  • the Regional Psychiatric Centre in Saskatoon, Sask.;
  • Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge in Maple Creek, Sask.;
  • Edmonton Institution for Women in Edmonton, Alta; and,
  • Burnaby Correctional Centre for Women (BCCW) in Burnaby B.C.

The Burnaby Correctional Centre for Women (BCCW), although a provincial institution, houses Federally Sentenced Women through an Exchange of Service Agreement. BCC accommodates the highest number of Federally Sentenced Women (FSW) of any provincial institution and is included in our site visits as an example of an institution that does not have male front-line staff.

The first series of site visits focused on general feedback about the cross gender policy and perspectives on males as front line staff. We also included general questions about selection and training for both female and male Primary Workers, as well as questions about the efficacy of the complaint and grievance systems. The research instruments for the second series of site visits included more specific questions about Primary Worker's activities in a cross gender setting, e.g. strip searching, the pairing of male Primary Workers with a female Primary Worker at night, etc. These questions yielded valuable specific information about different elements concerning cross gender activities. Some of these elements are captured by the cross gender policy, otherwise known as the document entitled: "CSC Women's Institutions and Maximum Security Units: National Operating Protocol for Front Line Staffing."

Institutions visited during the second round included the five regional institutions and one maximum security institution. Specifically, site visits were conducted at Nova Institution for Women, Joliette Institution, Grand Valley Institution, Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge, Edmonton Institution for Women, and the unit for maximum security women at Ste. Anne des Plaines. The latter institution had previously closed its unit for maximum women but was obliged to re-open it due to demand and it was surveyed in the last set of site visits.

The results of these visits, interviews and reviews of documentation are presented in the following Section.