Correctional Service Canada
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Women Offender Programs and Issues

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The Cross Gender Monitoring Project
3rd and Final Annual Report

ii) Training and Selection

As outlined in the Interview Findings Section, training appears to have been seriously eroded in the last year. Our findings indicate that the erosion is even more substantial than what we observed in the Second Annual Report. Last year we indicated that the 10 day Women Centred training module had been reduced to 5 days in most locales. This year, our interview findings indicate that many do not receive any Women-Centred training at all.

This is a serious issue with grave consequences for cross gender staffing. Not only are male Primary Workers not receiving basic training in FSW issues but there appears to be a trend that more male Correctional Officers are transferring into the FSW facilities directly from the male penitentiary system without any appropriate screening or Women Centred training. The fact that staff are bringing in their experiences and attitudes from the mainstream penitentiary system without training on issues relating to female inmates is a concern. One male PW who was hired when the regional facilities first opened commented that the transfers in and lack of training provided to new male PWs is an example of the Creating Choices'9 vision being lost. There are reports that many of the original well trained group of male PWs have left due to the vision being lost or due to difficulties associated with the National Protocol.

A number of respondents indicated that training is often at risk when managers need to cut budgets. They indicated that the women-centred approach, clearly enunciated in Creating Choices, is at serious risk, only 4 to 5 years since the opening of the regional institutions when the vision for meeting the unique needs of FSW seemed promising. As has historically been the problem, there is a lack of recognition within CSC that FSW are going to cost more per capita than male inmates, in a system clearly designed for men.

Officials with CSC's Women's Offender Sector have advised us that plans are currently underway to fine tune the Women's Centred Training Program and revert to its original 10 day format. Training should, however, be on an ongoing basis and should focus on a continuous learning approach.

As for selection, there appears to be considerable variation among the regions. Monitoring Team members heard in several institutions that the special screening approach that had been instituted for the initial group of PWs, has been suspended for many months.

9 Op cit.