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Women Offender Programs and Issues

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The Cross Gender Monitoring Project
3rd and Final Annual Report

d) Submissions from Stakeholders

As noted earlier, the Co-Monitors solicited comments on our Second Annual Report and posed a series of questions in a letter to organizations who have an interest in cross-gender staffing in federal facilities for women. A copy of the letter and the list of stakeholders can be found in Appendix C. Not all Stakeholders provided submissions. We received submissions from the Union of Solicitor General Employees (USGE), the Correctional Investigator (CI), the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS), National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL), a male Primary Worker from Grand Valley and a female Primary Worker from the same institution. A synopsis by subject area is listed below and the full submissions are appended to this report. Questions from the original letter have been grouped for ease of presentation of views.

1. Should males be allowed to work as Primary Workers and if so, what restrictions if any should be imposed? How would you advise us to deal with the wishes of the FSW to have access to selected and trained male prison workers in the context of Canada's international human rights commitments which include prohibition of males in living quarters of female institutions?

Union of Solicitor General Employees (USGE):

  • agrees with the recommendation that males remain a part of the staff of federal women's facilities;
  • disagree that a quota be placed on the number of male Primary Workers. Instead additional indeterminate staff should be hired to ensure that male workers are treated fairly and equitably;
  • support the merit principle for staffing in all institutions including those for female offenders;
  • disagree that male Primary Workers should be restricted from night shifts. The only restrictions should be in compliance with the law; and,
  • agrees with the principle of respecting privacy and respect. "However, such actions cannot be at the detriment of ensuring the safety and security of staff, the public and offenders." (pg.2)

The Correctional Investigator:

  • men should not be employed in front line positions at women's prisons;
  • have been advised by a number of women prisoners that, even when pairing is occurring, the male/female team often separates to do counts; and,
  • oppose males in the living quarters of female institutions because of the potential for sexual harassment or misconduct. Also there is a need for incarcerated women who have histories of physical, emotional and sexual abuse/assault to have a "safe place" to deal with the issues that arise from such abuse and this cannot be accomplished in an environment where men hold positions of power over them.

Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS):

  • men should not work on the front line in prisons for women, but does agree with the four conditions outlined in the first recommendation in terms of hiring any/all men to work in women's prisons;
  • the normalizing arguments fail to take into account the severe limitations on freedom that occasion a prison sentence and the absence of opportunities for women who are at risk to access formal assistance;
  • through a series of discussions with women in regional prisons across Canada, CAEFS found that women are unequivocal in their desire not to have men involved in front line work, including strip searches, bed checks and other invasive security procedures;
  • UN Minimum Standards Rules on the Treatment of Prisoners represent a minimum standard to which Canada must comply; and,
  • by limiting the responsibilities of male Primary Workers to non-invasive security practices, CSC has disproportionately disadvantaged women Primary Workers. There is a significant difference in both the nature of the work and the manner in which women prisoners regard the different genders of staff who are referred to as "Primary Workers".

National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL):

  • CSC should not employ men working as front line correctional officers in women's prisons; and,
  • the presence of male correctional staff in women's facilities increases the likelihood of sexual harassment and abuse of women prisoners, and is an invasion of privacy of women who are forced to conduct hygiene and use the toilet in their living quarters. It also reinforces a negative power dynamic set up when men have total control over women, in this case, women prisoners, many of whom had been sexually abused as girls and adults, often by males in authority.

Male Primary Worker, Grand Valley Institution:

  • the basic assumptions underpinning the cross-gender policy and therefore the Co-Monitors charged with examining the policy are erroneous. There is obvious assumption that men cannot be placed in a position of authority over women without men taking advantage of that position for sexual gratification or abusing that authority and the trust that comes along with it;
  • "An issue that has not been raised is male victims of abuse in male institutions. Nowhere are there any regulations beyond those generic to CSC that limit the interaction between male correctional officers and these survivors, yet most of their aggressors were also male." (pg.2); and,
  • Male Primary Workers want to be treated as Primary Workers first and want the same consideration that is given to women working in male institutions, that is to say to be expected to perform their duties in a professional manner. They want the prejudicial and discriminatory practices currently in place to be deemed as unacceptable today as they were when they were applied to women.

Female Primary Worker, Grand Valley Institution:

  • limiting men from night shift would have an effect of putting the 20% suggested quota on the same shift. This would mean that women PWs would have to do even more security during those shifts;
  • "Are same-sex abuse issues being addressed? Or are we discriminating in that we feel only men think and feel sexually? Lesbian staff work in the FSW facilities. Are we looking at them, how they feel, think when seeing nude women? Is it fair to question women? Is it discriminatory to only question men?"

2. What are your views with respect to screening and training for male Primary Workers and all people working in FSW facilities?

Union of Solicitor General Employees:

  • supports the need for appropriate training. That there should be effective policies in place is necessary but such policies should not be discriminatory towards male employees; and,
  • agree that full funding for training and staffing be protected and recommend a joint union/management committee at each institution to address training needs.

Correctional Investigator:

  • supports screening and training of all staff working in FSW facilities to ensure appropriate attitudes, knowledge and experiences;
  • Screening interviews should be compulsory for front line staff and any other males that are hired as program facilitators or for any other position, whether permanent or contract; and,
  • training must be women centred and delivered by appropriately qualified women trainers.

Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies:

  • supports the need to continue screening, training and ongoing professional development approaches for all staff in the women's prisons;
  • All staff should be adequately screened and trained prior to working with women prisoners, and in particular, the training model that was developed by Aboriginal women and implemented with and for the first set of staff who worked at the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge;
  • all staff should receive initial and ongoing professional training regarding relevant legislation and policy, appropriate interpersonal communication skills, personal relationships and conflict resolution skills; and,
  • there is already evidence that the stringent training and selection criteria which were initially employed by the Correctional Service of Canada have not been continued with the same rigour as they were when men were first being hired in the regional prisons.

National Association of Women and the Law:

  • all workers, women or men-front line or not, staff or contract, in women's facilities should be screened and trained in accordance with the principles articulated in Creating Choices.

Female Primary Worker:

  • "training for IERTS (Emergency Response Teams) is completed by a male instructor- is this a problem? Does he know how women think, feel, act, should we question his ability? Men want to be on the team- if a man can facilitate what is the difference? He is the leader in the end"; and,
  • the Core Training is a problem in that there is no knowledge by the training instructors about the Federally Sentenced Women's facilities or how they work. Recruits for these facilities are subject to harassment and ridicule during training about these facilities.

3. Should there be a Sexual Harassment Policy to cover harassment by staff against inmates, and what advice would you have in terms of who it should cover and content of such a policy?

Union of Solicitor General Employees:

  • "...the department and union already have policies dealing with harassment. Sexual relations between staff and female inmates should be contrary to the Code of Conduct." (pg.2)

Correctional Investigator

  • the Sexual Harassment Policy of CSC should be extended to include inmates and should explicitly protect the person complaining, and include appropriate sanctions that will follow a finding of inappropriate behaviour. It should also specify the protocols are to be followed including who conducts the investigations and what the sanctions are for engaging in sexually inappropriate behaviour.

Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies:

  • there should be a formal sexual harassment policy covering behaviour of staff towards prisoners. There are particular fiduciary, trust and power relationships between prisoners and staff which necessitate specific harassment policies. There should also be particular policies required to address racism and harassment of racialized women.

National Association of Women and the Law:

  • CSC should have an explicit sexual harassment policy that clearly prohibits sexual harassment of inmates by staff. "A sexual harassment policy is necessary and long overdue but must be carefully designed in order to be effective. One real challenge will be in constructing a credible mechanism that provides genuine access to redress for Federally Sentenced Women." (pg.2)

4. Does the present approach to dealing with complaints and grievances by Federally Sentenced Women of sexual conduct by non-inmates work? If not, what changes in policy, regulations or legislation would you recommend?

Union of Solicitor General Employees:

  • currently there are appropriate redress mechanisms in place to address inmate complaints and grievances. There may be a need to improve existing procedures not develop new ones.

Correctional Investigator:

  • not aware of any instance when a woman used the formal Complaint and Grievance Procedure to deal with these issues; and,
  • allegations of sexual abuse must be examined by an independent, outside review committee. "This committee must include individuals who are knowledgeable in women's issues, especially the dynamics of sexual abuse, and who have received cultural sensitivity training. Otherwise, we would be concerned that staff allegations would be seen as more credible that allegations made by the women."(Pg.5)

Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies:

  • women are increasingly fearful of making complaints or filing grievances regarding the behaviour of CSC staff within the prisons where they reside. Women describe to CAEFS threats as the reasons for their reluctance to avail themselves of the complaint and grievance mechanisms available to them;
  • in addition to concerns around alleged threats of transfer to a higher security or holding women at high security who might complain, women report feeling intense pressure to withdraw any written documentation at the complaint stage and that they are also often discouraged from pursuing complaints with the Correctional Investigator; and,
  • believe that the CCRA should be amended so as to require CSC to act upon any documentation of breaches of the law that are pointed out to it by the Office of the Correctional Investigator, and to require the Office of the Correctional Investigator to report directly to Parliament.

National Association of Women and the Law:

  • any mechanism that would be trusted and used by prisoners would have to reside outside CSC authority. Failing this, women will not feel safe in bringing complaints forward.

5. As our mandate will end with this Third Annual Report, what mechanisms should be considered, if any, for longer term or ongoing monitoring?

Correctional Investigator:

  • "CSC should contract with an outside agency to do yearly compliance audits. There should be sanctions set out for any institution that fails to meet the standard that will be set out in policy."(pg.6)

Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies:

  • "Section 77(b) of the CCRA should be amended to require that the Solicitor General establish a National Women's Advisory Committee, chaired by CAEFS, to provide advice to CSC and monitor the provision of correctional services to Federally Sentenced Women in accordance with domestic law and international agreements" (pg.6); and,
  • support the extension of the Co-Monitors' mandate so that additional data regarding the results of cross-gender staffing in the women's prisons would continue to be collected. Monitoring has not continued for a sufficient period of time to allow for adequate assessment of the impact of men working on the front line in women's prisons.

National Association of Women and the Law:

  • Need for ongoing monitoring of cross-gender staffing until the CSC can make the necessary change to staffing the front lines with women only. NAWL would recommend that in the short run the Co-Monitors be kept in place to keep an independent eye on the safety and privacy needs of women in prison by the people who at this point have the greatest expertise in monitoring the situation.
  • there is a need for a permanent, structural mechanism to assure Federally Sentenced Women's equality rights. CSC should adopt the national advisory committee model as recommended in Creating Choices and the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies should provide leadership in determining membership and mandate of that advisory committee.