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Women Offender Programs and Issues

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Cross Gender Monitoring Project

c) Suggested Policy Content of Cross Gender Staffing Guidelines

The following is a list of issues and suggested policy that a cross gender staffing guideline should address. The content of the existing National Operating Protocol for Front Line Staffing is summarized on pages 25 and 26, and the document itself can be found in Appendix B. We will be consulting extensively about these suggestions and monitoring existing practices during Phase 3.

  • Strip Searches: No males should be present when a female inmate is being strip searched. The National Protocol explicitly prohibits males from this activity. WE will be monitoring this area closely in Phase 3.
  • Pat Downs: Serious concerns exist with respect to males being involved in conducting pat downs, and any regimen of routine pat downs in any institution housing Federally Sentenced Women. It should be noted that we have not found indications of pat downs conducted by males to date. The Team will examine reports of the results of pat down searches in Phase 3 to determine if such searches should be eliminated completely in the absence of compelling evidence pointing to misconduct by an inmate. Our concern in this area is that there have been a number of complaints directed to us about frequent pat-downs on a routine basis resulting in some inmates feeling sexually harassed by this practice.
  • Urinalysis: No males should be involved in obtaining urine samples from women inmates. As previously mentioned, the Corrections and Conditional Release Act Regulations require a person of the same gender to collect the sample.
  • Crisis Intervention: Where an emergency situation presents itself and male Primary Workers are on staff at the time, male Primary Workers should assist female officers in containing the situation. Should strip searching be required, male Primary Workers should remove themselves from the immediate area once control has been regained. The Protocol states: " All staff, regardless of gender, who have received the requisite training may use the appropriate level of physical intervention required to control and restrain inmates when faced with an immediate requirement to intervene...If, however, the first response is by a man or men, a woman or women will be deployed to assist as quickly as possible".
  • Institutional Emergency Response Teams: No males shall participate in Staff Teams specially trained and mandated to use force if necessary in emergency situations. The National Protocol states that all members must be women.
  • Security Escorts: Male PW's can be paired with female officers for security escorts that require two officers. The National Protocol states: "due consideration will be given to the nature of a temporary absence before a man is assigned as escort".
  • Non-Security Escorts: These are escort situations where only one escort is required. This is one of the most difficult areas for recommendation. These trips often involve Temporary Absence passes to a woman's family residence where the FSW may want her Primary Worker, who is also the person preparing her case for paroling authorities, to be present. Should a woman wish her male Primary Worker to accompany her, this could be in addition to a woman PW. Otherwise, only female officers should act as one officer escorts.
  • Medical Escorts: Male PW's should not be allowed to be the escort in a medical situation. Other than what is stated above, the National Protocol does not address the specific area of medical escorts.
  • Announcing: All males should announce their presence when entering a unit. As women may be changing or using the washroom at any time, this ensures their privacy is respected. Institutions may prefer to have all staff announce their presence, which is another acceptable approach. The Protocol states: "all front-line staff, men and women, will announce their entry into a living unit/house except during the institution's quiet/curfew hours".
  • Counts in the Day: Ideally, all staff should be paired at all times, and males should be paired with females when entering living quarters. Some institutions are so small, that only one officer is able to do count in the day. To prohibit males from doing this alone would in effect make it impossible to have male primary workers. However, there would still be a prohibition against male PW's patrolling at night.
  • Counts at Night: No males should be allowed to enter the living units at night, including male Primary Workers. The National Protocol presently permits males entering at night when paired with a female PW.
  • Enhanced Units without cameras in cells: Males should be permitted to work in these units as long as they are paired with a female, with the exception of the night or back shift.
  • Enhanced Units with cameras in cells: Depending on the size of the facility, males may be paired with women officers in these areas as long as the video monitors are located in such a way that only a female officer can view them. If not, then only female officers should be assigned to these areas. The Protocol states that males will not be assigned to this function.
  • Private Discussions between an assigned P.W. and a female inmate: Male Primary Workers should be treated in the same manner as any other male professional on staff is treated. Private meetings should be allowed as long as it is possible for others to view the meeting, for example, through a window or open door in the office areas, or in a public place including the living or dining room of living quarters except during the night shift.. This situation is distinct from doing counts as officers are required to enter the bedroom areas in order to determine the whereabouts and status of each inmate. A male Primary Worker who is engaged in other aspects of his job, such as parole planning, should be in a position to meet alone with a female inmate subject to the above conditions.
  • Males other than PW's, e.g. maintenance, program deliverers, etc: Males contracted to do maintenance on living quarters shall either be accompanied by a female officer or women inmates shall be asked to vacate the building while the work is being accomplished. Males involved in programs who have been screened and trained should be allowed to meet alone with females as long as it is possible for others to view the meeting, for example, through a window or open door in the office or program area or in a public area. As for contract and maintenance staff, the Protocol specifies they are to be escorted by a woman staff or woman commissionaire.