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Hostage-Taking Incidents Involving Women Inmates: A Profile and Exploratory Investigation

This report is also available in French. Ce rapport est également disponible en français. Veuillez vous adresser à la direction de la recherche, Service Correctionnel du Canada, 340 avenue Laurier ouest, Ottawa (Ontario) K1A 0P9. Should additional copies be required they can be obtained from the Research Branch, Correctional Service of Canada, 340 Laurier Ave., West, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0P9.

2003 No R-143

Kelly Taylor & Jillian Flight

Research Branch
Correctional Service of Canada

September 2003


This report would not have met its full completion without the assistance of the following people, and we therefore extend our utmost gratitude.

To the advisory committee consisting of: Kelley Blanchette, Lori MacDonald, Lisa Watson, Kathy Dafoe, Donna McDonagh, Chris Manuge, Jeff Earle, Hélèn Naud, Cindy Cooper, Janice Woytiuk, and Bonita Roth, for the invaluable and insightful feedback that you provided throughout the developmental stages of this project.

To the Wardens and staff from facilities across Canada, your names too many to list. Your cooperation and assistance throughout the implementation stages truly allowed this project to proceed.

Thanks also to Amey Bell for both a great deal of assistance in conducting the interviews and your editorial expertise. Thank you Paul Verbrugge and Nathalie Gingras for aiding in the transcription of interviews, to Joy Irving for her assistance in coding the investigative reports and to Antonia Sly for her editorial proficiency.

We would also like to extend our appreciation to Kelley Blanchette for her editorial expertise in the final stages of the project's completion and Ralph Serin for suggesting appropriate terminology when all else had failed.

A special thanks to the numerous staff and women who agreed to be interviewed for this project. Your involvement and insight was invaluable to the success and completion of the report.


In hopes of initiating a literature base regarding women within Canada's Correctional facilities who take hostages, gaining a better understanding of such incidents and the needs of such women, and informing the management of the new secure units across Canada, the present investigation examined twelve hostage-taking incidents that occurred over a three-year period (March 1999 through April 2002). Interviews were conducted with 26 staff members and 8 women, and information was coded from national and regional investigation reports and the Offender Management System (OMS).

Results revealed both similarities and differences within the existing research pertaining to women and men who take hostages. For example, a review of the investigative reports linked to each incident revealed that women, unlike men, are more likely to take hostages with others as opposed to taking hostages on their own. However, consistent with research on men (Mailloux & Serin, 2002), hostage-taking incidents involving women were likely to involve a weapon.

Findings also demonstrate that the hostage-takings by women tend to involve incidents that are both expressive and instrumental in nature. More specifically, it appears that hostage-takings by women, although involving many wants and needs fulfilled in return for the safe release of the hostage, seem to be a "cry for help" or an attempt to get people to listen. Furthermore, this report offers preliminary characterizations for women who take hostages as it appears such women fall into one of three groups: "deliberate leaders", "incidental perpetrators", and "accidental followers".

While the study was limited by a low base rate, it was successful in augmenting the thin knowledge base in this area. Findings obtained indicate that research examining male perpetrators of hostage-taking should not be applied directly to women without exercising extreme caution. Furthermore, the present study was successful in identifying a preliminary classification scheme for women who take hostages, possibly useful in the development of policy and programs for intervention and prevention. Aside from this, several potential identifiers were highlighted that may help alert staff to the risk a particular woman may pose for hostage-taking. Despite the small sample size, interviewing individuals involved in previous hostage-takings addressed the limitation of previous studies, that is, the reliance on data from the Offender Management System (OMS) and data obtained through investigative reports. Nonetheless, while further extrapolation is beyond the scope of this report, many questions have been raised for future research, and suggestions for policy and programs offered.






In support of maximizing the potential of offenders to safely reintegrate into the community and enriching the health and wellness of each operational unit, this research examines various aspects of institutional hostage-takings by women inmates. Prior to addressing the phenomenon of hostage-takings perpetrated by women, a brief history of the environment surrounding women's corrections will be provided.

Women's Corrections in Canada : A Brief History

In 1989, a Task Force on Federally Sentenced Women was established to address longstanding concerns with the inequitable treatment of women offenders, resulting in the 1990 Report entitled Creating Choices. The recommendations of this report was that the Prison for Women, in which all federally sentenced women in Canada were held at the time, be closed, and four new regional facilities for women along with a healing lodge for Aboriginal women be created. As such, between 1995 and 1997, five new regional facilities began operations and all federally sentenced women in Canada were transferred to these facilities.

In 1996, following several escapes and other incidents, the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) determined that a small portion of women required a greater degree of structure and control than the regional facilities could provide; due to their disruptive behavior, high escape risk, mental health needs, and risk to the public. This situation prompted CSC to move these women from the new regional facilities to isolated co-located units in men's institutions such as Saskatchewan Penitentiary, Springhill Institution, and the Regional Reception Center.

Notably, the majority of hostage-takings examined in the current study took place within the co-located units. The problematic nature of these co-located units for women did not go unrecognized by Correctional Service Canada. In 1999, Solicitor General Lawrence MacAulay announced the Intensive Intervention Strategy that called for the modification and expansion of the existing enhanced units of the regional facilities to accommodate women offenders classified as maximum-security. In turn, the CSC began planning for the implementation of Intensive Intervention in a Secure Environment. In addition, Structured Living Environment houses would also be constructed at each regional facility to accommodate women, classified as medium- and minimum-security, who have mental health needs that require more intensive support.

As a result, the Structured Living Environment houses were in operation at the regional facilities by December 2001 and on January 16, 2003, Solicitor General Wayne Easter presided over the opening ceremony of the first new Secure Unit at Nova Institution for Women. The opening of the Secure Unit at Edmonton Institution for Women took place in February 2003, at Joliette Institution for Women in April 2003, and the secure unit at Grand Valley Institution for women is scheduled to open in the Spring of 2004. The current research informs the management strategy for inmates in the new secure units at the regional facilities and forms part of a comprehensive evaluation of the secure units currently being undertaken.

Hostage Taking: A Review of the Literature

Although rare, hostage-taking incidents inevitably result in devastating physical and/or psychological consequences. Much of the research examining the phenomenon of hostage-takings focuses primarily on men and has been conducted within terrorist or political frameworks and the Canadian criminal justice system (Furr, 1994; Williams, 1995; Nouwens, 1995; Mailloux & Serin, 2002). To date, there is little research on women who take hostages within a correctional environment. To contribute to this limited literature base, this study focused on women who have taken hostages within Canadian federal correctional institutions1 and the staff that work with these women on a daily basis.

Research to date, focusing primarily on men within the criminal justice system, highlights the importance of sexual motivation and its relation to hostage-taking incidents. Furr (1994) suggested that utilizing traditional negotiation techniques might not be appropriate for all hostage-takings, particularly those that are sexually motivated, arguing that those with a history of sexual assaults against staff are likely to sexually assault hostages again. Furr argues that this is especially true for the sexually sadistic offender, psychopathic rapists and/or individuals displaying pervasive anger.

Williams (1995) emphasized sexual motivation as an emerging trend with respect to offenders who unlawfully confine women. She argued that there is a tendency for perpetrators to act alone, take single victims, and be 35 years of age on average. She described the perpetrators as violent or sexual offenders who may be demanding of treatment for sexual urges and serving sentences of longer than 6 years. Nouwens (1995) also emphasized sexual assault and its relation to hostage-takings. She stated that pre-indicators to hostage-taking incidents often do not exist, and revealed that inadequate monitoring of the offender prior to the incidents and inadequate staff response during the incidents are common. Taken together, the above mentioned research has likely informed the development of screening protocols and resulted in differential emphasis in policy.

To replicate previous research findings with a larger sample, Mailloux and Serin2 (2002) conducted an exploratory study pertaining to sexual assaults during hostage-takings and forcible confinements. Interestingly, they argued that hostage-takers are not necessarily different from the general population, listing potential identifiers as history of hostage-takings, refusal of treatment and demands for transfers in conjunction with an angry disposition. In addition, although they maintain that identifying motivations provides useful information in determining precursors to hostage-taking incidents and emphasize the importance of psychological services during such an event, Mailloux and Serin argue that traditional descriptions of motivations (with the exception of personal change) are not applicable to a larger sample. Specifically, escape, boredom/attention, psychiatric distress, and sexual assault (CSC, 1998) were not identified as motivations for their sample. Furthermore, Mailloux and Serin's findings did not support descriptions of hostage-takers identified by Snider and Bally (undated) such as antisocial, inadequate, political terrorists and mentally disturbed.

As a result of the inability to replicate many previous findings, Mailloux and Serin (2002) suggest that extreme caution should be taken when creating screening instruments; over-classifying offenders as high risk is likely (Mailloux & Serin, in press). Importantly, the following findings were replicated in their study:

  • Most perpetrators plan the incident to some degree
  • Perpetrators tend to act alone
  • Perpetrators use a weapon
  • Perpetrators take a single victim
  • Perpetrators are incarcerated primarily for violent offences
  • Perpetrators have a history of hostage-taking
  • Rapists are more often implicated in sexual assaults

In accordance with previous work, they emphasize the need for intervention strategies that consider the probability of a sexual offence when a sexual offender (particularly a rapist) takes a hostage. Interestingly, Mailloux and Serin also revealed that "…perpetrators…consisted of proportionately more women than the general offender population" (p. 13).

The need for continued research pertaining to hostage-taking incidents seems obvious and a thin knowledge base regarding female hostage-takers along with evidence of proportionately more women becoming involved in these events provides support for the significance of the current research. Preliminary investigations suggest that the strong emphasis on sexually motivated hostage-takings has little applicability when considering women. Furthermore, traditional motivations behind hostage-taking events have been questioned for men, in turn; their applicability with women must also be queried.

Research by Noesner and Webster (1997) provides evidence that may contribute to our understanding and treatment of women who choose to take hostages. Noesner and Webster (1997) identify two types of behaviours (instrumental and expressive) and three types of management strategies (negotiation, crisis management and high risk/tactical assault) (Noesner, 1999) which should be considered while examining and/or intervening during hostage-taking incidents. Instrumental and expressive behaviour are described as goal-directed and display-directed respectively. Differential management strategies should be employed depending on the type of behaviour being expressed. Specifically, negotiation should be used in an instrumental incident and crisis intervention in an expressive incident. High-risk incidents should employ a management strategy that includes the deployment of a tactical team. Distinctions among instrumental versus expressive behavioural characteristics are seen as having potential relevance for women hostage-takers and will be considered within this report.

For the purposes of this report, the operational definition of a hostage-taking event is as follows:

  1. Any person; staff, visitor or inmate - is held against his or her will by (an) inmate(s) seeking to escape, gain concessions or to achieve other goals, such as publicizing a particular cause. It may be a well planned or an impulsive act; and/or
  2. Any incident resulting in a national or regional investigation will be considered as a hostage-taking event.

The report examines hostage-taking incidents by federal female inmates that occurred within a three-year time frame3 , March 1999 through April 2002. Twelve hostage-taking incidents occurred during this time frame, five resulting in national investigations and five resulting in regional investigations. Two investigative reports were still pending at the time of the preparation of this document. The ten completed investigations involved a total of 15 women; at the time of the data collection, 11 were incarcerated, one was deceased, one was on parole and two had reached sentence completion.

1 Also includes institutions housing women serving federal sentences through Exchange of Service Agreements.
2 Notably, this study included one female perpetrated incident, involving 4 women.
3 Original plans for a five-year review revealed that there was a break in events between 1995 and 1999.


Given the small sample, the research strategy uses primarily qualitative methods to profile both the women and surrounding circumstances. Preliminary preparations for the project included an advisory committee involving individuals familiar with institutional hostage-taking incidents. Specifically, psychologists, nurses, unit managers, parole officers, negotiators, representatives from the Women Offender Sector, the Director of Women Offender Research, the Director of Inmate Affairs, and the principle investigator gathered in order to inform and assist in the development of the research project4 .

Based on feedback assembled during the advisory committee meeting, interview protocols to be utilized with the women hostage -takers and staff were developed (see Appendix A). Regional and national investigation reports (see Appendix B), available at the time of the document preparation, were collected and coded (see Appendix C for coding manual). Information not provided in the investigation reports was obtained through a review of the Offender Management System (OMS), a national database used to track an offender's interactions with the Canadian criminal justice system.

During the summer of 2002, facilities across Canada that have experienced female-perpetrated hostage-taking incidents and/or were holding women who had been involved in such incidents were visited. The participation of women and staff who had been involved in the incidents and/or wanted to provide feedback regarding hostage-taking was enlisted. Eight of the eleven women who were incarcerated during the time of the interviews agreed to take part in this research project. Twenty-six staff members agreed to participate: ten correctional officers, four mental health nurses, three psychologists, three parole officers, and one of each of the following; Deputy Warden, negotiator, Institutional Preventive Security Officer, health nurse, correctional supervisor, and programming officer. The women and staff were asked to sign an informed consent which included consent to be audio taped.

4 Dr. Mike Webster, a Canadian expert in hostage-taking negotiations, was invited to take part as a member of the advisory committee. Unfortunately, previously scheduled appointments precluded his involvement.


As mentioned, twelve hostage-taking incidents had taken place during the period of investigation (March 1999 through April 2002). Most incidents took place in the Prairie region, specifically, nine of the twelve incidents occurred at the women's unit in Saskatchewan Penitentiary. The remaining three incidents occurred at the Regional Psychiatric Centre (RPC), the Burnaby Correctional Centre for Women (BCCW), and the Okimaw Ochi Healing Lodge (OOHL).

When considering the time lines of these events, it is interesting to note that as of December 1999, a maximum of six months between incidents is evident, with over half of the incidents (7/12) occurring within one or two months of one another. Prior to 1999, there was a lapse in hostage-taking incidents, with the preceding incident occurring in 19955 . Notably, the majority of incidents (10/12) took place in 2000 and 2001. This may be attributed to a type of contagion of sorts. In addition, during this time frame women had limited programming opportunities, however elements of the Intensive Intervention Strategy were implemented in 2002 and accompanied by a drop in the number of hostage-taking incidents. Please refer to Figure 2 for the distribution of events by year.

5 At the time of the final preparations for this document, it had been one year since the most recent hostage-taking incident.

Profile of the Perpetrators

The perpetrators were an average age of 25.6 (min. = 19, max. = 43) as compared to an average age of the general inmate population of 35.2. Eight of the women are single, six women recognized as common law, and one as separated. Twelve of the fifteen women (80%) are Aboriginal; the remaining women (20%) are Caucasian. When considering the general inmate population, 25% of women are Aboriginal while 63% are Caucasian. This group of women hostage-takers is serving an average sentence length of approximately 4 1/2 years (excluding those serving life sentences) (ranging from 2 years to 11 years). At the time of the most recent hostage-taking incident the women had served, on average, 40% (excluding those serving life sentences) of their sentence (ranging from 6% to 88%). Table 1 provides a breakdown of sentence length and proportion of sentence served. Only three women (20%) are serving life sentences.

Table 1 : Sentence Length and Proportion of Sentence Served at time of Hostage-Taking
Perpetrator Incident # Sentence Length % of Sentence Served
A 1 Life Minimum 10 months of life
2 Life Minimum 17 months of life
3 Life Minimum 19 months of life
4 Life Minimum 27 months of life
5 Life Minimum 35 months of life
B 1 2 years 46%
2 2 years 50%
3 3 years, 11 months, 29 days 41%
C 1 6 years 11%
2 7 years, 4 months 14%
3 7 years, 4 months 23%
D 1 10 years, 6 months 16%
2 11 years 20%
E 1 2 years, 10 months 88%
F 1 3 years, 5 months, 30 days 7%
G 1 2 years, 14 days 58%
H 1 2 years 71%
I 1 Life-Maximum 10 months of life
J 1 4 years, 3 months, 26 days 54%
K 1 5 years, 6 months 6%
L 1 Life-Minimum 13 years of life
M 1 7 years 68%
N 1 2 years, 16 days 35%
O 1 2 years, 3 months 74%

Table 2 provides an examination of the past offenses common in the adult criminal history of these women. Table 3 provides an examination of the current offenses common in the adult criminal history of these women.

Table 2 : Common Past Offenses in the Adult Criminal History of the Women
Offense Type Number of Women with Offense
Failure to comply with recognizance 9/15
Failure to appear 8/15
Assault 9/15
Failure to comply with probation order 6/15
Theft under $5000 6/15
Prostitution 5/15
Unlawfully at Large 5/15
Possession of property obtained by crime 4/15
Obstruction of peace officer 6/15
Table 3 : Common Current Offenses in the Adult Criminal History of the Women
Offense Type Number of Women with Offense
Failure to comply 7/15
Possession of weapon 4/15
Mischief 5/15
Assault peace officer 5/15
Aggravated assault 4/15
Theft under $5000 4/15
Assault with weapon 4/15
Failure to appear 4/15
Trafficking in a scheduled substance 5/15

As part of the Offender Intake Assessment (OIA) process (Motiuk, 1997), an offender's criminogenic needs are identified via the Dynamic Factors Identification and Analysis (DFIA) . The DFIA considers various aspects of an offender's personality and life circumstances. Data are clustered into seven target domains, with multiple indicators for each: marital/family (31 indicators), personal/emotional orientation (46 indicators), substance abuse (29 indicators), employment (35 indicators), associates/social interaction (11 indicators), community functioning (21 indicators), and attitude (24 indicators) . A review of the seven target domains suggests that as compared to the general population, hostage-taking women exhibit higher levels of need in all domains.

6 Creation of the institutional Dynamic Factors Identification and Analysis (DFIA) is based on the Community Risk/Needs Management Scale (CRNMS), developed by L. Motiuk and F. Porporino and implemented by CSC in 1990. 7 See Correctional Service of Canada's Standard Operating Practice 700-04 for a complete listing of indicators.
Table 4 : Percentage of Women with Dynamic Needs: Hostage-Takers vs. General Population (November, 2001)
Type of Need Hostage-Takers(n = 15) General Population (n = 306)
Marital/Family 100% 69%
Personal/Emotional 100% 92%
Substance Abuse 93% 71%
Employment 93% 61%
Associates 87% 58%
Community Functioning 60% 39%
Attitude 47% 36%

Another area looked at during the OIA is the level of motivation of the offender. Overall ratings are based upon an evaluation of the following criteria (Correctional Service Canada, 1999):

  1. Recognition that a problem exists with lifestyle, behaviour and resulting consequences.
  2. Level of comfort with problem and its impact on offender's life.
  3. Level of feeling of personal responsibility for the problem(s).
  4. Willingness to change.
  5. Possession of skills.
  6. Knowledge required to effect change in behaviour.
  7. Level of external support from family, friends or other community members.

An offender is determined as having a low motivation level if he/she strongly rejects the need for change or is unwilling to participate in recommended programs. A medium motivation level is assigned when the offender does not fully accept CSC's overall assessment but participates in recommended programs or other interventions. A highly motivated offender is self-motivated, and actively addresses problem areas (Correctional Service Canada, 1999).

Reintegration potential is determined upon admission and reassessments are completed prior to release. Three measures are examined to determine reintegration potential for women: OIA static risk rating, OIA dynamic need rating and security level designation (Custody Rating Scale). There are three levels of reintegration potential (low, medium, high), with higher levels indicating a higher likelihood of successful reintegration (Correctional Service Canada, 1999a). Reintegration potential reassessment is based on the analysis of an inmate's progress in level of intervention based on static factors, level of intervention based on dynamic factors, security reclassification, and level of motivation (Correctional Service Canada, 1999).

Motivation and reintegration potential (pre-incident) for the women hostage-takers are reviewed in Table 5. Interestingly, none of the women were categorized as having high motivation or high reintegration potential.

Table 5 : Motivation and Reintegration Potential: Hostage-Takers vs. General Population (November, 2001)
  Hostage-Takers (n = 15) General Population (n = 326)
Low Medium Low Medium High
Motivation 27% (n = 4) headers="t5r1.c1 t5r2.c1"73% (n = 11) 13% (n = 42) 48% (n = 156) 39% (n = 128)
Reintegration Potential 67% (n = 10) 33% (n = 5) 24% (n = 79) 43% (n = 141) 33% (n = 106)

When reviewing the institutional history of these women it becomes evident that institutional transfers are common. Each of the women has committed several offences during incarceration and these offences have, in turn, resulted in disciplinary charges. The women have also participated in programs and employment during their incarceration. Approximately half of the women were assessed as doing well in their programs and working well at their jobs while the other half appear to gain skills in programs but are not able to transfer the skills to situations outside of the classroom. According to the investigative reports, participation and motivation for these offenders appears to deteriorate over the course of their sentence.

Some additional and interesting themes evident in the investigative reports include a history of suicidal and self-injurious behaviour, mood/personality disorders, evidence of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, a high probability of re-offending once released into the community, and a history of substance abuse.

Profile of Incidents

This profile is based on information gathered from the investigative reports. It is important to note that these reports are based on information at or around the time of the incidents and is therefore dynamic in nature and not necessarily reflective of the current state of these women or the institutions involved. In addition, at the time of writing this document, two investigative reports for the most recent incidents had not yet been completed and are therefore not considered in some of the following profile.

When examining the hostage-taking incidents it becomes clear that women are more likely to take hostages with others as opposed to taking hostages on their own: 9 of the 11 incidents examined included more than one perpetrator. The victims of these hostage-taking incidents included both staff and inmates. Staff were taken as hostage in six of the incidents and inmates in four of the incidents. One incident had no true hostage but still warranted an investigative report. The majority of hostage-taking incidents involving women offenders are also likely to involve a weapon as 10 of the 11 incidents identified weapons, including: chains, glass, razors, scissors, computer cables, homemade/hobby knifes, extension cords, belts, pens, and dumbbells. Demands during hostage-taking incidents include items such as medication, phone calls, cigarettes, coffee, feminine hygiene products, food, money, car keys, increased programming and healthcare. Concessions made during an incident include coffee, feminine hygiene products, medication, phone calls, cigarettes, and food. Interestingly, a couple of the women alleged that "concessions" of burgers and pizza are actually initiated by the negotiators as opposed to being a demand made by the hostage-takers.

When considering the methodology implemented by these women, it seems that barricading the area is one of the most common approaches. Office furniture and bed frames are examples of materials that have been used in this manner. Additional methodology included smashing windows with free weights, starting fires, using bed sheets, and using the victim as a shield. A review of the time frames for the arrival of a negotiator reveals that in 6 of the 10 incidents, a negotiator was on scene within 30 minutes. In two of the incidents the negotiator arrived immediately and their arrival was not noted in two of the incidents as a result of the short length of the incident.

The investigative reports identified half of the incidents as having "pre-incident indicators". These indicators included information such as the perpetrator having a history of hostage-taking incidents, increases in drug activity, a destabilization of the environment, deterioration in behaviour, threats of hostage-taking, "acting out", increases in incidents, complaints about victims, unusual befriending of a victim, violation of handcuff regimes, and staff being afraid to deal with women offenders because they fear their decisions will be open to high criticism by management. Interestingly, even those events not identified as having pre-incident indicators did identify information that could be interpreted as indicators. For example, a "sense" that something was about to happen, verbal altercations between staff and the woman (perpetrator), or rumors about a hostage-taking incident.

The investigative reports also identify "Institutional Management Indicators". Eight of the ten incidents were not identified as having any institutional management indicators, however such indicators were identified in the remaining two incidents. Institutional Management Indicators that were identified included the perpetrator not being appropriately placed, the victim being a difficult special needs inmate, being unable to isolate a range due to the physical layout of a unit, and staff developing an attitude of leniency toward security procedures in hopes of preventing confrontations. Once again, even though the majority of incidents were not identified as having Institutional Management Indicators, the following items appeared in the reports and may be relevant: shortage of staff, absence of available handcuffs, officers being unaware of perpetrator's security levels, lack of women centered training, fear of dealing with women inmates, hostage-taking threats not being reported or charged, and a lack of consistency in the unit's routine.

Words from Women Hostage-Takers (Interview Results)

We had nothing… We need help… We need support, we need to be heard.

I can't stress programs enough. There are a lot of angry women here. Violence is normalized. I want some programs. It's very important.

If you're treated like an animal, you might as well act like one.

We know the consequences but don't see other options…Every other option failed.

They weren't going to do anything so I had to take it to another level.

I had to ask for something because they give us transfers anyway. It would look pointless if I didn't, so I asked for a phone call.
Demands are the only way to get transfers.

I wanted out [a transfer] so I took a hostage.

Just trying to get attention on the FSW [Federally Sentenced Women] unit, this is your product, this is what you created here.

I'm not trying to justify hostage-taking but I want people to understand that there are reasons why we do this and if it doesn't change there WILL be more victims.

The above quotations taken directly from the interviews conducted with women who have taken hostages express desperation, frustration, fear and need. When the woman who made the final statement was asked what the "reasons" for her actions were, she responded by stating that unit operations and a lack of routine, understanding, programs, patience and respect were the reasons for hostage-taking incidents. At the time of the interviews, eleven hostage-takers were incarcerated, of these eleven women, eight agreed to participate in an interview. The following conveys their message.

Prologue to the Events

Women were asked to comment generally on the days leading up to the incident and the hostage-taking itself. Some women described the incident expressing very little emotion while others became angered and complained about what they are lacking (i.e., programs, structure, phone calls, transfers) or what they are facing (i.e., bad environment, abuse by staff, segregation, rights being violated, living with emotional women who self-injure). During incidents in which planning had occurred, the women seemed to express a sense of uneasiness, stress and/or anticipation leading up to the event. Women also commented that even when an incident had not been planned, "you could just feel it" in the environment. When asked if they had experienced any major life events around the time of the incident, 5 of 8 women said yes and listed occurrences such as a suicide (of a fellow inmate), their child's birthday, pregnancy and a child being taken out of the Mother Child program 8.

8 Of note, in February of 2003, the Correctional Service of Canada released a policy bulletin resulting from the national investigation into the hostage-taking at the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge. Specifically, any decision to terminate participation in the mother-child program and remove a child from the institution must be followed by a reassessment of the risk the mother may pose to herself or to others.
Group Dynamics

As mentioned, the majority (9/11) of incidents included more than one perpetrator. In turn, it is important to recognize the impact and role of group dynamics. Each woman was asked if she was the "leader" of the incident. Interestingly and yet not surprisingly, the women were hesitant to admit that they had taken on this role. Only 2 women stated firmly that they were the "leader". A common theme was the suggestion that the women involved are on the "same level", "even grounds" or "50-50".

Also of interest are the women's perceptions of the impact of having more than one perpetrator involved in a hostage-taking incident. The majority of women (7/8) recognized the relevance of multiple perpetrators. The following comments were made:

With that many people, you never know what's going to happen. You can't control what other people are going to do.

Makes it easier, seems more fun because we're all together.

If you can talk more than one person into doing something, this indicates a problem.

More power.

Can be damaging and the more people, the more time until our court hearings.

There is strength in numbers but if there's only one guard there's no problem, otherwise you need help.

It adds to the fire, things are more chaotic and more dangerous. You can see that some of the other women are ready to lose their mind.

Each woman was asked whether she was more comfortable acting alone or with others. Half (4/8) stated that they preferred acting with others. Two women stated that they prefer to act alone but both suggested that there are advantages to acting with others, one stated that she would do both depending on the situation, and one final woman stated that she acts independently.

When asked how much planning went into the incident, the majority of women (6/8) admitted to planning taking place. The women generally stated that some planning, but not a great deal occurred. Only one incident was identified as being purely spontaneous.

Pre-Incident Indicators

Seven women stated that they felt there were changes in their behaviours and/or routines leading up to the hostage-taking incident. The most common response, mentioned by half (4/8) of the women, was getting "quiet" prior to such an incident. Similar to this, "keeping to myself", "feeling down", and "not caring" were declared. Contrary to this, becoming "angry", "more talkative" and even "I tell them" (about the incident) were also mentioned by the women. Not surprisingly, one of the women acknowledged that she generally receives more institutional charges leading up to an incident and another stated that she attempts to "make it look like I'm not up to anything". Also of interest is a statement made by one woman, "it's a cycle for me, 10 months, that's it".

In hopes of determining the issue seen as most prevalent for the women, they were asked what could have been done to prevent the hostage-taking. Only one woman stated that nothing could have been done to prevent the incident while another acknowledged that "at that moment" nothing could have been done, however, "in advance", actions could have been taken. The two most common responses were needing to be heard (3/8) and improved treatment by guards (3/8). The women want people to hear that the environment is unhealthy (e.g. suicides and slashings) and "becoming more like P4W [Prison for Women]". Importantly, one woman did say that "things are changing for the better". In addition to the above, the following comments were made:

We need programs, more time with psychologists and more yard time.

No more than 24 hour lockdowns.

Clear and consistent policy and procedure.

I could have told someone, I knew in advance but didn't want to be a rat.

Communication about the process of things [i.e., when we will see our kids].

Transfers. We need a change in atmosphere.

The women were asked about their state of mind immediately before the incident. The responses ranged from angry, frustrated, crazy, adrenaline rush, and excited, to sad, worried, panicked, and desperate. One woman stated that she tells staff when she is going to take a hostage (of note, this woman is different from the one who claimed to do the same above). When asked to consider the atmosphere in the institution/unit around the time of the incident, half (4/8) of the women had difficulty answering, however half responded by indicating that the environment is depressed and bitter, filled with tension, negative (disrespectful) and finally, filled with an air of coldness. Importantly, one of the women clearly stated that "you never know when things will happen, it's like a f---ing jungle in here, anytime, something can happen, you never know" and another stated that "hostage-takings take place anytime".

The majority of women (5/8) suggested that generally, the area is not selected ahead of time, it is simply a matter of convenience. However, a few (3/8) emphasized the importance of doors, more specifically, using a room with only one door, "scoping out doors and planning", and seeing open doors as "an opportunity". One woman stated that "on range during punch9 " was also a good opportunity.

When discussing the victims involved in the incidents, the majority of women (5/8) stated that they are not chosen ahead of time but are simply a victim of opportunity. Only two women said that during one particular incident the victim (an inmate) was chosen as a result of her racist attitudes and one woman stated that the victim was chosen ahead of time but she did not know why.

9 "Punch" is a slang term referring to a security measure taken by correctional officers in which an informal count of all inmates is conducted at specified time periods to ensure the safety of both staff and inmates.

Of obvious relevance is the reasoning behind such events and what motivates federally sentenced women to take a hostage. In hopes of eliciting the most meaningful responses, the women were asked similar questions in a variety of ways. For example, What did you want? What did you expect the outcome to be? What did you think you would get out of it? What did you think would happen to you?

As a whole, and confirming the messages above, there are two major themes when it comes to the motivation behind taking a hostage. One theme pertains to the institutional environment (programs, lock downs, segregation, etc.), poor treatment (emphasis on guards) and wanting to be heard (4/8). The second theme concerns more tangible requests such as phone calls, cigarettes, (also referred to as "stupid demands") and transfers (4/8). Some (3/8) stated that medication/pills was their expectation when taking a hostage. Other items mentioned include; media attention, counseling/rehabilitation, administrative changes, and seeing their child.

The majority of women appear to be fully cognizant of the potential disciplinary outcome as they described that they expected to be placed in segregation and/or charged. Interestingly, two women claimed that they felt they would "get a beating" or be "treated badly" (by staff).

In hopes of determining how the women feel after such an event, they were asked what their experiences were like after the event was over (and prompted with personal/emotional examples if they focused more on disciplinary outcomes). Half of the women (4/8) stated that they had no emotional changes, however two admitted that one of their incidents had indeed impacted them differently and they were impacted emotionally, one stating that she became suicidal and began slashing. Other responses ranged from feeling "sorry for hitting a staff member" but having "no regrets", to shutting down all of her emotions, becoming "mad" particularly for not receiving a transfer, being labeled as a "troublemaker" after the incident and being treated "rough" or "badly" by guards.

The women were asked; "Now that you've taken a hostage, are you more or less likely to do it again?" The responses varied:

  • Half of the women (4/8) expressed that they would be less likely to take a hostage again:
    • "It's never been my thing"
    • "I would never do it again"
    • "If I did, I'd get more time and [my child] is getting older"
    • "I would need a better or stronger case. I don't want to take the chance of getting a DO [dangerous offender] status or getting shot".
  • Three stated they would be more likely to take a hostage again:
    • "It would only happen in some cases", Poor environments for example "you can change the scenery but not the environment"
    • "In my situation, more [likely] I've already warned them, let me out of seg. [segregation], give me a transfer"
    • The third woman provided no reason why.
  • The final woman stated that it depends
    • After explaining that her situation at the current time is a good one and she would therefore not take another hostage, also stated "it depends", being detained would make her "not sweet".
Perpetrator's Perception

In hopes of gaining a better understanding of the women's thoughts on the fear, psychological and/or physical harm inflicted during a hostage-taking incident, a number of questions were asked to assess their perceptions. Naturally, for those involved in more than one hostage-taking incident the responses varied by incident, however where possible, they were asked to comment in general terms.

When asked to speak to the impact of the incident itself, it appeared that unless a great deal of physical harm had occurred, the women were likely to minimize the impact a hostage-taking has on its victims. Only a few of the women (3/8) spoke about their thoughts regarding the victim in a manner that displayed true appreciation for any type of impact. Specifically, words used in their descriptions included; "traumatized", "terrified", "physically scarred", "mentally disturbed", "flashbacks", "long term damage", and "I can only imagine". Interestingly, half of the women (4/8) appeared ambivalent regarding any impact, Conversely, only one woman, although recognizing the impact - "I've seen the look on their face" - seemed to question the legitimacy by saying that "they bulls---", "exaggerate", "they get compensation", and "they portray themselves as the victim, as whiney".

Importantly, not all of the incidents included physical harm to the victim. However, where appropriate, when asked to rate the amount of physical harm inflicted, the women appeared to be rather cognizant. They were able to recall precisely what they had done to the victim. In one instance, the woman stated that it is necessary "in order to be taken seriously". When considering the fear instilled (not only within the victim but also within staff on shift at the time of the incident and other inmates), not surprisingly, all but one woman (7/8) expressed that the amount of fear they instill is quite great.

The women addressed psychological harm similarly to that of the general comments regarding overall impact. That is, half (4/8) appeared to recognize the amount of psychological harm instilled, while half (4/8) seemed oblivious to this factor. This is reflected in comments such as; "it will remain as part of their memory, just like any trauma a child endures, they'll never forget" and "not counting the long term effects that we never find out about", versus comments such as "they play it up in court" and there is no psychological harm "for any parties".

The advisory committee for this project emphasized the importance of determining if simple knowledge of prior hostage-taking incidents influenced the likelihood of a woman deciding to take a hostage. The majority of women (5/8) were aware of other hostage-takings that had occurred prior to the incident that they were involved in, however only two said that this influenced their decision to take a hostage. Comments made by those who stated they would not be influenced by prior knowledge of hostage-taking incidents included; "I'm not easily influenced", "you just go with the flow when you're in jail" and "it depends on the type of person…if you're in long enough, and deal with the sh-- you do it because you believe it, not because you were lead to do so".

In order to determine if actually experiencing a similar situation would influence the women's perceptions, the researchers asked if they had ever been a hostage or in a situation similar to a hostage-taking incident. Six of the women said that they had not and two said they had. One described a "home invasion" on the "outside", continuing to explain that she "understand[s] every emotion people experience, I understand the fear". The other described that she was "a hostage in a [time omitted] year relationship". It does not appear that this had any systematic impact on the responses throughout the interview however.

Resolution and Negotiation Process

Two questions were asked specific to the resolution/negotiation process, the first addressing the women's preferences regarding negotiators. The most overwhelming response was the importance of "trust" as seven of eight women identified this as being a critical characteristic of the negotiation process. The majority of women (5/8) said that they prefer not to deal with a psychologist. A few (3/8) stated that during negotiation they would like to deal with the person "in charge" and some (2/8) mentioned the importance of "respect" to this process. When considering the gender of the negotiator, the majority of women (5/8) stated that gender is not important to them, however, two stated that they prefer to deal with women ("easier to talk to" and "men try to dominate you"). Only one stated she prefers to deal with a man because men "give you tranquility".

Regarding their preference for whether the negotiator is someone known to them, responses varied:

  • Three stated that they prefer to deal with someone they don't know, perhaps someone from outside the institution.
  • Two prefer to deal with people they know.
  • Two prefer someone from a position of power.
  • One stated it really did not matter

Additional thoughts regarding negotiators included the importance of a "kind and understanding" person, "someone for inmates" (Elizabeth Fry for example) and "media" being present because "with CSC, tapes always go missing, there's always time lost".

The women were asked what could have been done to resolve the incident more quickly, however their responses offered little insight outside of the fact that they too prefer incidents to be resolved as quickly as possible. Some (3/8) said simply, "give them [us] what they [we] want". One suggested providing concessions more quickly, "phone calls and cigarettes for example", and another suggested following time frames introduced by the hostage-taker and/or negotiator. In addition, they expressed that they would like to be taken more "seriously" and reach a "happy medium" with the negotiator. Interestingly, one woman did state that "they [negotiator and CSC staff] can prevent hostages from being hurt". This comment was made in reference to time frames and the length of incidents.

The interview concluded by providing the women with the opportunity to consider how they might deal with similar situations in the future. The following summarizes their thoughts:

I would just step back.

I don't know… not by taking a hostage… but I'd make sure they got fu--ed up.

I'd go to my cell and lock up. I don't want any part of it.

I don't know. Last month there was a similar situation…I didn't want to freak out or nothing so I just cried.

I have more to lose now…I don't want to risk DO status…I'm occupying my time and mind…I need routine…without it…it's chaotic and bullsh-- happens.

I'll try to talk but I don't know if they'll listen. I don't see any alternatives. Give me a chance in GP [general population]. I'm going to take a hostage so I can get shot.

I don't know…so desperate, no options…maybe help victim get less harm. I'm talking and thinking things through better now. I wouldn't have any physical involvement.

The majority of women (5/8) feel that at the time of the hostage-taking incident there was no other way to solve their problem. One stated that there was likely another solution but she could not advise on what it might be. Two stated that there could have been another solution, however one suggested the solution has to come from CSC (e.g. give them phone calls) and the other simply stated "there's always a way".

When asked for any final thoughts or if anything had been missed, three women offered the following.

For me, it's how the women are treated.

In the past 2 years a lot of hostage-takings have been committed by Native women. Only one white woman. CSC has underlying issues of racism. Natives' feelings of being looked down upon. Colour of your skin, we're stupid, we're alcoholics. Racism is a contributing factor in the resentment to CSC as a whole. I see differences in the treatment of Caucasian and Aboriginal women. Not all staff, but some. White girls may get different treatment.

Listen to inmates in segregation…try to do something to make life better in here. There's no programming, it's all 1 on 1. I wouldn't take BC's [Behavioural Counsellors], psychologists, or elders, but if it comes to a guard so be it. I won't hurt people that are here to help me. Guards are just here to do their jobs, they are our number one choice.

With the assessment of group dynamics, pre-incident indicators, motivation, the perpetrator's perception, and the resolution and negotiation process complete, the focus will now turn to the staff and their comments and perceptions in the same key areas.

Words from Staff Involved in Hostage-Taking Incidents (Interview Results)

I just get a chill up my spine…there was something there that wasn't right, when you work with these offenders and after [time omitted] years you can read them like a book, it's a gut feeling, you just know.

Your dignity and integrity as a person is just wiped right out because somebody at one moment had control over your life and you were begging for it…the impact is extremely severe.

When she [the victim] was finally released, I was the first nurse to see her and the look of horror on her face, I don't think I will ever forget that.

It's a continuous threat…it's difficult for staff to deal with, inmates who attack violently should be taken out of the institution.

My world is not safe…there are times where the victims speak about the incident and I still become very teary, I still cry and I question whether I would ever be a victim or could ever be a victim.

Any time a hostage-taker doesn't have the hostage-taking behaviour addressed, it poses a risk to everybody.

It's a very unpredictable situation with that kind of volatility…they could kill us with no remorse.

It lasts forever, there's no way you can erase those women from your life, there's no way.

The above quotations, taken directly from the interviews conducted with staff who work with hostage-takers everyday, express desperation, frustration, fear, and need, similar to the expressions portrayed by the women. Twenty-six staff agreed to provide their insight regarding hostage-taking incidents. Almost half (12/26) have been directly involved in a hostage-taking incident(s) in a variety of roles including; victims, staff on site, negotiators, profiler, camera operator, nurse, unit manager, or being with the victim who was taken. The others may not have played a direct role in the incident itself but were working nearby at the time, left their shift just prior to it happening or started their shift just after its conclusion. Importantly, seven staff provided only general feedback as opposed to participating in a detailed interview10 , in turn, responses that appear to suggest low response rates are in fact a direct result of this. The following conveys their message.

10 These seven staff members work within an institution where no hostage-takings involving women offenders had taken place, to date, however they have had the opportunity to work directly with many of the perpetrators. Their enthusiasm to participate in the study and the knowledge they had to share were viewed as critical to include within the report.
The Day of the Incident

Staff were asked to compare the day of the incident to "other days" and comment on whether they felt there was anything different about the day the hostage-taking incident took place. Over half of the staff (14/26) said that they could not really comment on this question, however some (7/26) suggested that nothing was different while others (5/26) suggested that something felt different. "There was a feeling something wasn't quite right", "the offenders were more agitated", "with one of the perpetrators, you can read when something is up", "in hindsight, yes, the one offender had given up on all plans", and "they were really over confident, really polite, they had earned the staffs trust back again". Not surprisingly, perception after the fact seems critical as throughout the interviews staff often made reference to the fact that "hindsight is 20/20".

Group Dynamics

Naturally, staff recognized that the majority of incidents involved more than one perpetrator. In addition, all staff acknowledged the impact this has on the incident. Half (13/26) spoke to the fact that it makes things more serious as a result of "strength in numbers", the fact that they "feed off each other" and in turn, understand that "it just takes the whole situation and escalates the severity of the incident by 10 times". Some (8/26) identified the impact multiple perpetrators have on the negotiation process, stating that successfully calming one woman down does not guarantee this calm spreading to the other women, in turn making a "rational playing field" difficult to achieve. Multiple perpetrators also leave the negotiator with the task of determining who the "leader" is.

Additional comments regarding group dynamics refer to the "power struggle" that can occur among the perpetrators. That is, the need for negotiators to convince more than one person to make any single decision, the fear of not knowing what the perpetrator (who is out of sight) is doing, and the "intimidation" that often coincides with the "power" of a group.

Pre-Incident Indicators

The staff were asked to consider the relevance of major life events on the likelihood of a woman taking a hostage. Almost half (12/26) of respondents did not feel they could effectively answer this question, were not certain of how such events may have an impact, or really felt it depended on the woman of interest. Several (8/26) however felt that major life events do impact the occurrence of hostage-taking incidents. Examples of such events provided by staff included a death in one's family, not wanting to be paroled, a child being taken away, and a family anniversary. Importantly, the same staff highlighted the significance of individual differences, being aware of the "cycles" these women go through, poor coping skills, the need for immediate gratification, and finally a "combination of life events". Others (6/26) argued that major life events should not be looked at as a contributing factor in hostage-taking incidents. This group of staff suggested that "not getting a phone call is a major event" to these women and that "major to them is menial". Their message was that, in general, these are women who don't need a major life event to do a hostage-taking, they are simply a "bad bunch of girls, it is a game to them".

Behavioural changes around the time of the incident are of obvious relevance when considering pre-incident indicators. When asked if the women's behaviours changed prior to the incident, several (10/26) of the staff stated that they witnessed behavioural changes in the women, some emphasizing that staff should be wary of "any change" in behaviour or "anything out of the ordinary". Others provided specific examples; "a detachment…an aloofness", "more compliant", "being reintegrated back into GP [general population]…too much, too fast", "agitation", "verbally abusive", "more attitude", "attention seeking", "less involvement", "pacing", and simply, any change in "their actions, some are outgoing, some withdrawn". As is suggested above, whether one will witness a change in behaviour prior to an incident depends on the woman of interest. Notably, staff said, "in hindsight, yes…you could see they were planning because they were practicing". This statement was supported by other staff who mentioned "rehearsal", women asking questions about doors and discussions between the women regarding hostage-taking. Other staff (8/26) however felt that there were no changes in behaviour, the events were purely "spontaneous". Interestingly, only one incident was noted by the women as being purely spontaneous.

Staff also commented on differences in the atmosphere around the time of an incident. Several of them (9/26) believe that there was nothing different about the atmosphere around the time of the incident, whereas slightly less (7/26) believe that there were changes. The only tangible example was increases in the number of institutional incidents. More elusive examples included tension as a result of threats being made by past hostage-takers, "something there that wasn't right", "the whole atmosphere changes, you can sense it", and agitation as a result of lock downs. Several staff (10/26) did not feel they could respond to this question as a result of not being on shift prior to the incident taking place. In hopes of eliciting more information regarding pre-incident indicators, staff were asked if they thought the incident could have been prevented. Interestingly, approximately half (12/26) felt the incident could have been prevented. Those who felt this way made the following comments:

We did tell management that something was going to come down…we had some warning…the management didn't perceive it as a threat.

Some information was received regarding hostage-taking but either it wasn't taken seriously or [it was] missed.

Had the girls been transferred after threat of hostage-taking was made…women [are] not taken seriously enough.

Absolutely…keep them locked in their cell. If the staff member had [action of staff member omitted] it never would have happened. I think the pressure is on us to reintegrate these girls…you know what, it ain't going to happen.

Slow down the reintegration process, talk to the offenders more and try to get an idea from them if the reintegration from seg to general is at a good pace.

I firmly believe that if you take a child away from a mother she's going to react…she wasn't placed in any observation even though we have a place for observation.

More staff working. Tighter security measures.

…had there been something for them to occupy their [the women] time.

Isolate the inmates from each other because you can tell who is the manipulator or leader on a range.

By recognizing who's who and where they are.

By the staff making more contact and asking more questions.


A diversity of explanations were offered when the staff spoke about their beliefs regarding the primary motivators behind hostage-taking incidents. Reasons most commonly cited by staff included food, phone calls, and drugs (10/26) and control and power (7/26). Simply stated, "it's about the power…because she (the perpetrator) at that time has total and complete power of the negotiator, the hostage, the IERT, the warden and the crisis team, RHQ and their crisis team, NHQ and their crisis team…that's a pretty big impact for one little girl". Interestingly, those listing control and power as primary motivators in hostage-taking incidents also suggested that food, phone calls, and drugs were merely secondary factors. This is reflected in comments such as; "pizza and phone calls are just an expression of that [control/power]" and "the hostage gives them [the perpetrators] a great deal of power…I think the menial stuff [food and phone calls] just follows". Additional motivators listed by staff included: "transfers" (4/26), wanting to be heard or consoled (4/26), "status" (4/26), a need for "attention" (4/26) "unresolved issues" (2/26), "boredom" (2/26), the need for an "adrenaline rush" (2/26), "anger" (1/26) and finally, avoiding parole (1/26).

Staff Perception

As with the inmates, staff were asked to comment on the degree of physical harm, psychological harm and fear they feel is experienced during a hostage-taking incident. In addition, they were asked to comment on how they perceive themselves and the victims as being impacted. Clearly, the majority of staff recognize the tremendous impact such an event has on a victim. A number of narratives were shared as many of the respondents had worked with and/or are currently working with, victims of hostage-taking incidents. Notably, three of the respondents had been in the position of victim (hostage) themselves. Expressions used to describe their impressions of the staff as a whole include: "never returning to work", "still suffering the effects", "needing regular psychological services", "loss of trust", "angry", "severely impacted", "shaken up", "experiencing nightmares", and "mentally very damaging and lasting".

When commenting on the amount of fear and psychological harm they feel is instilled and the amount of physical harm inflicted during a hostage-taking incident, it became obvious that the staff feel the amount of direct involvement with the incident is a key factor in determining one's perception.

In addition to commenting on their perception of the impact such an event has on the victim, staff were asked how they were impacted personally. The most common responses seemed to be evenly split between three opinions; not being impacted at all, being profoundly frightened, and seeing it as an eye-opener because of the realization that they easily could have been in the shoes of the victim. Additional responses included being angry, surprised, and experiencing a loss of trust.

Those stating that they did not feel they had been impacted made the following comments:

That's my job, it's what I do, I'm an ERT member

Maybe because I wasn't so directly involved

I'm well prepared, [I've] been through a lot

It is something that I have been trained to deal with so I don't let it affect me emotionally…maybe subconsciously it might affect me down the road

[There was a time when] a strong survivor mentality was encouraged, there's very little of that now, we don't encourage people to be strong, we emphasize the weak role.

Conversely, those declaring that they were profoundly frightened stated the following:

I remember my first day back, I was so scared, I did not know what I was getting myself into.

You feel like you have to put up a front to let them know it doesn't effect you because that's your job…and you're scared, so medicated, just to get up and get to sleep at night…so scared.

My world is not safe…there are times where the victims speak about the incident and I still become teary, I still cry and I question whether I would ever be a victim or could ever be a victim.

In order to get some perspective on the Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM)11 process, staff were asked if they found the CISM helpful. The majority (19/26) felt that the CISM was helpful, making comments such as "it's essential" and "it's definitely working well". The staff described some benefits of CISM including; providing the opportunity to "vent" (i.e., "…gave people a chance to voice their concerns…it is hard to come home to family members when they don't understand"), being able to compare reactions (i.e., "Knowing the normal reaction to an abnormal situation is important") and seeing that you have a support system. Only a few (3/26) stated that they did not find the CISM helpful, arguing that those directly involved were the last people to be approached and debriefed or that it was never offered to them12 . Others (4/26) did not feel they could comment on this question as a result of limited experience with the process. Interestingly, one of these people stated; "I think it's really beneficial for staff who are experiencing difficulty in their lives, but for me, I'd rather go to an independent person than knowing somebody from the institution".

11 CISM is a service that is provided to staff through the Employee Assistance Program.
12 Importantly, this feedback may be based on experiences from the past with both male and female populations and in turn may not be directly reflective of the situation as it stands today.
Resolution and Negotiation Process

Both inmates and staff were provided with the opportunity to comment on the resolution and negotiation process. Staff were asked if they felt negotiator characteristics have the potential of impacting the negotiation process. Approximately half (12/26) stated that negotiator characteristics do impact the negotiation process. Many (8/26) argued that it depends on the development of rapport and individual characteristics of the hostage-taker, while pointing out that with women, it is important to distinguish whether self harm and/or risk of suicide is a factor or if it is a 'standard' hostage-taking. Only one staff member felt that negotiator characteristics play no role in the negotiation process, stating that "I don't think it matters, they are so wrapped up in what they're doing themselves that, they're almost separated from reality". Unfortunately, some (5/26) staff did not respond to this question.

Concurring with the women, staff also identified trust as an important factor in the negotiation process. In addition, as stated above, rapport was identified as being important to a successful resolution. Additional comments highlighted the importance of a firm but fair approach, a sense of empathy, establishing a comfort level, training, and active listening skills. Finally, the following statements accentuate the significance of being aware of the population one is dealing with; "…someone who knows how to talk to the female inmates" and "…you need someone that knows how to deal with the females, it is a lot different than dealing with the males".

When prompted to provide comments regarding the significance of the gender of the negotiator, several (8/26) interviewed had strong preferences. Of these, half (4/8) believed that men should negotiate with women, claiming that women have more respect for men and seemingly making the general conclusion that as a rule, "male officers work better with female offenders, whereas female officers work better with the male offender". Some (2/8) felt that women should negotiate with women, arguing that women negotiators are able to "…identify or relate to the individual needs, understand where they are coming from" and "…connect with other women, women can look at the situation on more of an emotional level which is probably where it's coming from…". Finally others (2/8) claimed that a "negotiating team" including one woman and one man, might be the best option, thereby providing a "good balance".

The remaining staff did not state any strong preference regarding the gender of a negotiator, but instead felt that it really depended on the incident at hand and the individual involved. Many suggested that it was really a judgement call in which upbringing, history and background play a major role. In addition, the importance of knowing the women well was raised along with the value of the relationship formed between the instigator and negotiator. Specifically, respect, tone of voice, and patience were identified as valuable characteristics to acknowledge.

Additional feedback was offered regarding the negotiator characteristics viewed as being most effective with women. More specifically, some (7/26) staff felt that the negotiator should be someone the woman knows. However, under these circumstances, there should be a level of confidence, respect, trust, and an ability to make a connection and "read the offender". Also, staff point out that "…it's great to negotiate and run back to the Warden and say 'this is what she is saying', but if you know the offender you can go back and say 'this is what she's saying, but this is what she means". Furthermore, one staff argued that using a negotiator from within the unit is not likely to have nearly the impact as the use of an outside negotiator. Importantly, in the staff member's words, "…if you have this notion that we must use trained negotiators, it is a hard judgement call, it can't be just any old person, you have to figure out what is going to work best…". Finally, one staff member stated the following: "I've heard mention of psychologists feeling that they should be negotiating…but I don't think so…most of these offenders have dealt with psychologists before, just knowing they're going to think that psychologists are trying to get into their head…try to trick them".

In hopes of gaining a better understanding of the resolution process, staff were asked if they felt anything could have been done to resolve the incident more quickly. Many (9/26) felt that nothing could have been done to resolve the incident more quickly. The overwhelming message was that a certain amount of time is needed in order to "wear them down", "to resolve it faster probably would have caused more harm" and speeding things up can not be done "without risking the victim". An equal number (9/26) expressed that they really did not know what could have been done to resolve the incident more quickly. Some (4/26) staff members felt that something could have been done, but also recognized the critical role the "wearing down process" process plays in negotiation. Furthermore, it appeared difficult for them to identify any single action that could have been taken. However each expressed a desire to resolve the incident more quickly and appeared to oppose the current "wearing down process"; for example, "if I'm a hostage you better come down here and get me, I would rather take a few physical blows than 20 hours of trauma". The remaining staff (4/26) did not respond to this question.

As previously discussed, women are more likely to take a hostage with a group of women as opposed to individually. In turn, the staff were also provided with the opportunity to comment on whether they felt negotiating with a group should be handled differently than negotiating with an individual. Half (13/26) felt that negotiators should deal differently with a group, recognizing that dealing with a group is more difficult, challenging, and requires more skill. The challenge of dealing with women that "feed off each other's behaviour" was raised and one staff member succinctly expressed, "…you need to find out the dynamics, who's the player, who's the follower, what are they telling me, what do they really want…women tend to be much more emotionally expressive than men are…their outbursts in forms of hostage-takings would be an expression of that". Some (4/26) felt that individuals and groups should be negotiated with, in similar ways, arguing that in most cases "a leader will emerge". The remaining (9/26) did not know (4/26), provided no answer (4/26), or felt that the required negotiation techniques were dependent upon the incident (1/26).


A review of the literature reveals that hostage-taking behaviour has rarely been examined in relation to women perpetrators. This thin knowledge base along with evidence of proportionately more women becoming involved in hostage-taking events points to the need for research in this area. Interviews conducted with staff and inmates were geared towards topics such as pre-incident indicators, group dynamics, motivations, perception of harm, and the resolution/negotiation process involved in hostage-takings.

Summary of Main Findings

Pre-incident Indicators

In many of the hostage-taking events, pre-incident indicators such as history of hostage-taking, increases in drug activity, acting out, unusual befriending of a victim, and increases in institutional incidents were evident. The majority of women indicated that planning takes place prior to an event and that changes in behaviour leading up to the incident are likely. Importantly, only one woman stated that nothing could have been done to prevent the incident from taking place. The overall impression is that the women want people to hear that the institutional environment is unhealthy.

While comments provided by the women provide much insight into hostage-taking events, a complete understanding of these events requires incorporation of the perspective and ideas of the staff. The majority of staff interviewed appeared cognizant of the role that major life events play in hostage-taking behaviour. Furthermore, staff referred to the importance of being wary of any change in the women's behaviour. Finally, similar to the women, approximately half of the staff interviewed felt that the hostage-takings could have been prevented.

Group Dynamics

Clearly, women are more likely to take hostages with others as opposed to alone, and barricading the area is one of the most common approaches utilized by female hostage-takers. Both women and staff appear to recognize the relevance of having multiple perpetrators, mentioning issues such as there is "strength in numbers" and more people "makes it easier".


Of great importance in any study of hostage-taking behaviour is the motivation underlying the act. Two major themes emerged regarding inmate views of the motivation behind taking a hostage. One theme involved the institutional environment, poor treatment, and wanting to be heard. The second theme involved more tangible requests such as phone calls, cigarettes, and transfers.

Staff cited a diversity of explanations regarding the motivation for hostage-taking behaviour. Food, phone calls, drugs, and control and power were the reasons most commonly cited. Interestingly, however, those who stated power as primary motivations, suggested that food, phone calls, and drugs may be merely secondary factors.

Perception of Harm

In general, it appeared that unless a great deal of physical harm had occurred, the women were likely to underestimate the overall impact a hostage-taking has on its victims. When physical harm was inflicted on the victim, however, the women appeared rather cognizant. They were able to recall precisely what they had done to the victim. All but one of the women expressed that the amount of fear they instilled was quite great. While half of the women appeared to recognize the amount of psychological harm instilled, half were oblivious to this factor.

As anticipated, staff recognized the tremendous impact such an event has on a victim, but argued that the amount of direct involvement with the incident is a key factor in determining one's perception. Staff also indicated that such events leave them feeling profoundly frightened and/or blatantly aware of their personal vulnerability.

Resolution and Negotiation Process

The most overwhelming response from the women involved the importance of trust as a critical characteristic of the negotiation process. Furthermore, the majority of women stated that they prefer not to deal with a psychologist and that the negotiator's gender is not an important issue to consider. Additional thoughts regarding negotiators included the importance of a kind and understanding person, an advocate for inmates (such as Elizabeth Fry) and the presence of media because some feel that "with CSC, tapes always go missing, there's always time lost".

Approximately half of staff interviewed stated that they thought negotiator characteristics have an impact on the negotiation process. Staff stressed the importance of the development of rapport between negotiator and hostage-taker and the individual characteristics of the hostage-taker. Staff pointed out that, with women, it is important to distinguish self-harm and risk of suicide incidents from "standard" hostage-takings. Furthermore, responses by staff concurred with those by the women and identified trust as an important factor. Additional comments highlighted the importance of a "firm and fair" approach, a sense of empathy, establishing comfort level, training and active listening skills. Regarding the overall significance of the gender of negotiators, the majority of staff did not identify a preference for men or women but suggested that it is really a judgement call in response to the specific perpetrator.

Other Interesting Findings

As both interviews and a review of the investigative reports were utilized within this study, it provided researchers with the opportunity of confirming information from independent sources. Interestingly, the investigative reports and interview results often coincided with one another but there were some distinctions. For example, the investigative reports imply that a major motivation underlying hostage-takings by women is food, drugs, and/or phone calls. However, upon interviewing the women and staff it appeared that the food and drugs were actually more secondary demands. Whether this finding is a result of changing memories or incomplete information in the investigative reports is unclear.

Another finding that warrants mention was the fact that overall, the Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) seems to be an extremely effective tool for staff following hostage-taking incidents. The majority of staff who had the opportunity to receive the CISM commented on its usefulness and importance in such situations.

Managing Hostage-Taking Incidents

An examination of the views of staff regarding hostage-taking incidents perpetrated by women as well as the views of the women themselves have numerous implications for the correctional system. First, it provides a foundation from which to assist institutional staff through the provision of specific risk indicators as well as gender-specific negotiation techniques. More specifically, identifying the characteristics of those most likely to engage in hostage-taking behaviour is fundamental to the development and implementation of preventative measures geared at reducing the frequency with which these events take place among women. Second, addressing the notion that hostage-taking behaviour is not homogeneous but instead comprised of different types of events based on motivations, amount of planning, and degree of emotional arousal. Consideration of these factors is essential for implementing policies and procedures to address these events when they do occur. As such, the results of the current study, in part, attempt to inform the management strategy for inmates in the secure units at the regional facilities.

Examining the profile of women who have perpetrated a hostage-taking in comparison to those who have not is the initial step to identify risk factors for hostage-taking. An examination of the dynamic needs, reintegration potential, motivation level, number of institutional transfers, disciplinary charges, and general background characteristics suggests that differences exist between hostage-taking women and the general inmate population. Specifically, women who take hostages are higher in needs, lower in reintegration potential, have lower levels of motivation, and more previous institutional transfers, disciplinary charges, and a history of self-injurious behaviour. Furthermore, it appears that history of hostage-taking behaviour is a clear distinguishing factor for those who are likely to engage in subsequent hostage-takings, and that caution should be employed when working with individuals who have engaged in previous hostage-taking incidents. These existing factors are essential in the identification of women who are subsequently more likely to engage in hostage-taking and also factors that the Service should target in developing intervention and prevention measures.

The Heterogeneity of Hostage-Taking Behaviour

As noted earlier, Noesner and Webster (1997) identified two types of behaviour (instrumental and expressive) that should be considered when examining or intervening during hostage-taking incidents. Instrumental events are characterized by the perpetrator's goal-directed behaviour and taking of a hostage for purposes of exchanging the individual for terms or conditions grantable by a third party, such as transfers, phone calls, and so on. Expressive events are display-directed rather than goal-directed and the confinement is for the purposes of displaying emotion or expressing displeasure. In an effort to determine the current sample's position with respect to this expressive/instrumental dichotomy, the following aspects were considered:

  1. Pre-incident indicators;
  2. Emotions prior to the event and associated with the event;
  3. Amount of planning involved;
  4. Goals/motivations involved.

These aspects were considered because they seemingly relate to the degree of expressivity/instrumentality associated with an event. For example, an event that has much planning associated with it as well as personal goals such as food, phone calls, or transfers would be more instrumental, whereas one with little planning and a great deal of emotionality would be more expressive.

In the days leading up to the hostage-taking the responses regarding pre-incident indicators varied. Specifically, some women stated they "got quiet" while others said they became more talkative, and some admitted to receiving more institutional charges while others indicated that "everything was fine". Regarding their emotional states immediately prior to the events, responses ranged from angry, frustrated, and excited, to sad, worried, and desperate. Almost all of the women commented that some planning went into the event, however the amount of planning ranged from some but not a great deal, to a couple of hours, to a couple of weeks. The goals or motivations expressed for these events demonstrated two major themes. The first theme involved institutional environment issues such as programs, lockdowns, segregation, poor treatment, and wanting to be heard. The second motivational theme related more to immediate and perhaps more tangible requests such as phone calls, cigarettes, transfers, or medications.

Taken together, it seems that hostage-taking within this study is comprised of events containing elements of each type of behaviour. There is a degree of instrumentality as they tend to involve some planning and have some kind of goal or need that they want fulfilled. There is also a high degree of emotionality as the women express emotions ranging from angry and frustrated to panicked and desperate. In many of the events, the women made demands in return for the safe release of the hostage, however, the events were also colored with intense emotional arousal and passion. A frequent message was "needing to be heard" and "improved treatment by guards". The women stated that they want people to hear that the environment is unhealthy and results in incidents like suicide and slashing. Thus, it appears that hostage-takings by women contain elements of both instrumentality and expressivity.

Target the Behaviour

Identifying the type of behaviour displayed during a hostage-taking appears crucial in the management of the event. Noesner (1999) referred to three types of management strategies that may be employed in relation to hostage-taking: negotiation, crisis intervention, and tactical assault. Although each of these strategies may be applicable when dealing with women, two (negotiation and crisis intervention) appear more critical in the management of instrumental and expressive behaviour evidenced by women. Tactical assault is employed only for high risk incidents in which the subject is not interested in negotiating or expressing underlying needs, and grievous bodily harm or loss of life is expected. As such, this strategy focuses on seeking, amassing, and deploying as much power as possible and, as outlined in the Crisis Management Model, is used only as a last resort. Specifically, this model states that resolution varies according to the emergency. When dealing with inmates, negotiation and/or crisis intervention must always be the first option considered.

The management strategy of choice for an instrumental incident is the utilization of a plan that is focused on interests, options, alternatives, and contrasting the benefits of agreement with the cost of disagreement. In other words, employing a negotiation process. On the other hand, the management strategy of choice for an expressive incident focuses on restoring the subject's mental balance, lowering emotional levels, creating a cooperative working relationship, and solving the problems, thus using crisis intervention as opposed to negotiation. These management strategies have important implications to the current study, and more importantly, to policy and operations. Because it appears that the hostage-takings perpetrated by women are both instrumental and expressive, any management of these events must take into account both the emotional and goal oriented aspects of the event. A process that deals exclusively with the goal oriented aspect, failing to address the emotional components, may be an ineffective resolution tactic to use with women. Such an approach may be effective in the short term, however, addressing both aspects of these types of events may contribute to greater long-term effects and the potential for reduction of subsequent hostage-takings among women.

Importantly, the current authors understand that a crisis negotiator program has already been developed and plans are in place for the implementation of a crisis management course. Both of these elements reflect issues in the above discussion. The fact that on-going updates fall into line with the above suggestions is very promising.

More Than Just "Leaders" and "Followers"

Aside from the differing types of behaviour evidenced by women who take hostages, it appears that distinct categories might also be formed on the basis of the women themselves. Not surprisingly, hostage-taking tends to be viewed as a process in which there are leaders and followers, however, the results of the present study extend this claim. More specifically, the interviews with the women appeared to reveal diversity among women who take hostages and the possibility of classifying them into three distinct groups, "deliberate leaders", "incidental perpetrators", and "accidental followers". As evidenced by their roles in the incidents and their responses during the interviews, the term "deliberate leaders" describes those women who engage in hostage-taking behaviour with the intention of invoking change. "Deliberate leaders" are supportive of more macro issues and claim to represent other women in their environment by being the "voice of the people". Statements by "deliberate leaders" express their need to be heard and their apparent cry for help; "My intentions were to let them know, I'd had it, women are killing themselves", "I am very political and very outspoken, I don't just speak for myself I speak for all of us that are in here", "the only other way would be to wait for more suicides to happen and I didn't want to see that happen".

On the other hand, the "incidental perpetrators" employ hostage-taking as a tool for obtaining more immediate and perhaps tangible rewards or demands. They engage in hostage-taking behaviour for the immediate gratification of needs as opposed to macro issues as evidenced by the "deliberate leaders"; "it seems like the only way to get a transfer, I need a change of atmosphere", " I thought I would get my transfer, I didn't so I tried to take another hostage".

The third group, "accidental followers", describes those who engage in the hostage-taking event out of a necessity to "save face" or a lack of ability to go against their fellow inmates. "Accidental followers" have no real recollection of what they wanted and are unable to recognize the purpose behind the hostage-taking incident. The incident acts as an opportunity to jump on board and spend time with fellow inmates; "I didn't really want to but have to stand up with my friends", "with others, its more fun, get to spend time together", "I thought hey man, this is the first time I've been in a riot, this is not too bad".

The main quality distinguishing "deliberate leaders" and "incidental perpetrators" from "accidental followers" is that the former will initiate the hostage-taking on their own, given the opportunity, however the latter will not. Distinguishing "deliberate leaders" from "incidental perpetrators" is not quite as simple however. This is possibly due to the fact that each group may not be discrete, but continuous, with the possibility of movement from one "group" to another. When considering the behaviour types discussed above, it appears that "deliberate leaders" are much more expressive in nature than instrumental, and the "incidental perpetrators" much more instrumental than expressive. Importantly, the possibility for an individual to be primarily a "deliberate leader" at one time and an "incidental perpetrator" at another is not unlikely. However, the possibility of an individual going from an "accidental follower" to a "deliberate leader" (in a short period of time) is considered rare.

While previous notions, as well as the present research, suggests that a history of hostage-taking behaviour is one of the greatest risk indicators for subsequent hostage-taking, it is apparent from these groupings that this notion may be much more complex. More specifically, someone who has engaged in a hostage-taking incident as an "accidental follower" is less likely than a "deliberate leader" or "incidental perpetrator" to engage in subsequent events. For this reason, it is possible that focusing more on the concerns of the "deliberate leaders" and the tangible needs of the "incidental perpetrators" will contribute to the reduction of incidents, simply due to the fact that the "accidental followers" are less likely to act on their own.

Directions for Future Research

Continued research efforts to elaborate on the aforementioned categories of women hostage-takers is required for the prevention, intervention, and resolution of hostage-taking. Future research should focus on identifying the specific risk factors associated with each category. Furthermore, clarifying the different motivations associated with each typology may prove crucial. Examining group differences with regards to the resolution strategy that is most effective for each category may also prove fruitful. Finally, replicating this trend with different samples of women as well as across genders would also be of interest.


First, results suggest that staff received warning prior to some of the hostage-taking incidents; "We did tell management that something was going to come down, we had some warning…the management didn't perceive it as a threat", "some information was received regarding hostage-taking but either it wasn't taken seriously or it was missed". The women themselves also support the notion that staff are aware of potential hostage-takings in advance. In turn, it appears that a more effective communication process needs to be developed between staff and management. A process of accountability appears critical in the case of a staff member informing management of a suspected event and, as such, a standardized methodology for dealing with the concerns should be initiated. Providing such a methodology is enacted, accountability would follow.

Second, in addition to improved communication between staff and management, improved communication between staff and inmates seems warranted. The women's "cry for help", not being heard, is clearly of great significance to some of these women. Perhaps simply improving the lines of communication would in itself result in a decrease in the number of hostage-takings. The importance of the Report on the Task Force of Security and Commissioner's Directive 560 (Dynamic Security) should not be underestimated. Not enough emphasis can be placed on the importance of listening to the women, staff being involved with the women, and trusting staff instincts. Presumably, many of the hostage-taking incidents could have been prevented through increased interaction between staff, management, and inmates. Notably, the Secure Units have been designed with these concerns in mind and highlight the importance of consistency in the application of policy, structure and intervention efforts.

Third, accountability for "lost time" is important. Policy and operations may consider the use of independent contractors or an alternative methodology for the taping of hostage-taking incidents. The interviews with the women and an examination of the investigative reports suggest that when it comes to recording and documenting hostage-taking incidents, videotapes sometimes go missing. Evaluation of the feasibility for implementation of such a recommendation is beyond the scope of the current paper, nonetheless its value should be considered. Outside contractors or an alternative methodology may address this issue in future incidents.

Fourth, the role of segregation and its impact on hostage-taking incidents should be acknowledged. Both women and staff seem to recognize that being in segregation for extended periods of time plays a role in hostage-taking incidents. Similarly, the transition from segregation to general population also seems of great relevance. Therefore, it is recommended that policies and procedures currently in place regarding segregation as well as the transition from segregation to general population be reviewed. Such a review would examine whether the current process is effective and if there is a more efficient way of dealing with women in segregation and making the transition out of segregation a smoother process.

Finally, recognizing the importance of observing the women after incidents have occurred is recommended. Due to the highly vulnerable and emotional state of the women, post-incident, the significance of vigilant observation following such an event should be given further consideration. Importantly, both staff and women mentioned this.


Low base rates in hostage-taking events involving women place limits on the current study. Despite being socially fortunate, the small numbers limit the interpretation of results and the applicability of findings to other samples. It is important to note that 73% of the women who were involved in hostage-takings over the past three years and available during the timeframe of data collection, agreed to participate in the study. Thus, the current sample was representative of the current population. Most importantly, this research begins to address a thin knowledge base in this area. However, as a result of a limited literature base with which to compare, interpretation of the results should be made with caution and detailed extrapolation is somewhat premature. Nonetheless, the present research has provided a basis for research in this area as well as many interesting and important findings to be further explored.

Another limitation of the current research is the plausibility of socially desirable responding and memory deterioration over time. As most of the results were obtained through interview material, it is difficult to ensure that the participants were responding accurately and free of bias. This is a problem encountered in much qualitative research, however, despite being a limitation, this methodology remains an invaluable tool for obtaining much richer findings than those obtained through strictly quantitative methods. As such, while these two issues are a concern and must be recognized, they seem a small sacrifice given the richness of the data obtained.


Markedly, the majority of hostage-takings with women took place at a sole institution, Saskatchewan Penitentiary. As such, one may question the role that environment plays in hostage-taking incidents and the potential impact changing this environment may have. It is also important to note that a minority of the staff seemed to recognize or acknowledge the role of environment in such events. Interestingly, the few staff who seemed cognizant of this factor were from an institution that had not been directly involved in a hostage-taking incident, and stressed the importance of respecting the women with gestures such as simply calling them by their first name as opposed to their last name.

Staff working within an institution that had not experienced previous hostage-takings often dealt with similar populations of women, including previous hostage-takers. Staff from these institutions suggested that distinctions in the institutional environment itself play a critical role. Interestingly, however, the potential impact of the environment did not appear to emerge as a theme in those interviews conducted with staff from institutions that had experienced previous hostage-takings.

Notably, many positive changes pertaining to women offenders have already taken place during the completion of this report. For example, as a result of an investigation into a previous hostage-taking incident a policy bulletin was released regarding the Mother-Child Program. This bulletin states that staff must reassess the risk that the mother may pose to herself or to others following a decision to terminate participation in the mother-child program and remove a child from the institution.

In addition, as of August 2003, three of the secure units for maximum-security women were operational and the fourth unit is scheduled to follow shortly. It is anticipated that many of the concerns voiced by the women are actively being addressed within such facilities. The opening of these units highlights the Correctional Service of Canada's commitment to the women-centered approach. Continued focus and change in environments as well as the development and implementation of policies and operations based on feedback, such as that provided herein, will be fundamental in reducing hostage-taking incidents by women.

While many characteristics of female perpetrated hostage-takings are similar to those perpetrated by men, there are also many characteristics that are gender-specific. As such, it is recommended that the findings obtained in research examining male perpetrators of hostage-taking should not be applied directly to women without exercising extreme caution.

The present study successfully identified preliminary categories for women who take hostages, placing them into three distinct groups that may eventually prove useful in the development of policy and programs for intervention and prevention. Aside from this, several potential identifiers such as motivations and pre-incident indicators were highlighted that may help alert staff to the risk a particular woman may pose for hostage-taking. Despite the limitation in sample size, conducting interviews addressed a limitation of previous studies, that being their sole reliance on OMS data and investigative reports. Nonetheless, while further predictions and categorizing is beyond the scope of this study, directions for future research have been provided and suggestions for policy and operations made.


Blanchette, K. (1997). Risk and need among federally-sentenced female offenders: A comparison of minimum-, medium-, and maximum-security inmates. Research Report #R-58. Ottawa: Correctional Service Canada.

Correctional Service Canada (1999). Standard Operating Practices (SOPs) (Interim) 700-05. Progress Monitoring - Institution.

Correctional Service Canada (1999a). Standard Operating Practices (SOPs) (Interim) 700-00. Correctional Intervention Process.

Furr, K.D. (1994). Hostage-taking and sexual assault. Correctional Service of Canada: Ottawa, ON.

Mailloux, D.L., & Serin, R.C. (in press). Sexual assaults during hostage-takings and forcible confinements: Implications for practice. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment.

Mailloux, D.L., & Serin, R.C. (2002). An Analysis of Sexual Assaults During Hostage-Takings and Forcible Confinements. Correctional Service of Canada: Ottawa, ON.

Motiuk, L. (1997). "Classification for correctional programming: The offender intake assessment (OIA) process," Forum on Corrections Research, 9 (1), 18-22.

Noesner, G. (1999). Negotiation concepts for commanders. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, January, 11-21.

Noesner, G. & Webster, M. (1997). Crisis intervention: Using active listening skills in negotiations. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, August, 13-19.

Nouwens, T. (August, 1995). Hostage-takings: a.k.a. forcible confinements and sexual assaults, What the national investigations tell us. Correctional Service of Canada: Ottawa, ON.

Williams, S. (1995). Review of sexual assaults and forcible confinements. Correctional Service of Canada: Ottawa, ON.


APPENDIX B: Investigative Reports

Date of Incident (Report Number)

December 31, 1999 (3100-9-99-12-31-520)

January 11, 2000 (3100-9-00-01-11-520)

March 14, 2000 (1410-2-414)

April 6, 2000 (1410-02-416)

October 14, 2000 (3100-10-00-10-14-520(I))

December 17, 2000 (1410-02-428)

June2, 2001 (1410-02-442)

August 6, 2001 (3100-9-01-08-06-520)

August 31, 2001 (59100-20)

October 5, 2001 (1410-2-449)

November 03, 2001(No report available at time of report development)

April 13, 2002 (No report available at time of report development)

APPENDIX C: Coding Manual

Investigation Number:

Type of Investigation:





Victim? (inmate vs. staff)
Number of perpetrators involved?
Weapon? Y/N, if yes, what?
Length of Incident?
Original Demands (if any)
Ending Demands
Concessions (list items) (food, phone calls or cigarettes for example)
Potential Pre-indicators from report? Y/N, if yes, list.
Evidence of institutional management indicators? Y/N, if yes, list
Staff Involvement--Male/Female (#'s and role)
Inmate Methodology (i.e., bed frame placed in front of barrier of range)
Non-compliance identified by Board of Investigation? Y/N, if yes, list

Response Time (time) (# of minutes)
Incident commenced at?
Initial? (first contact)
Warden Informed?
Medical Arrival?
Negotiators Arrival?
Command Centre Opens?
1st Concessions?
Change in Demands?


Sentence Length?
Proportion of sentence served at time of incident?
(e.g., 40% of 10 yr. sentence)
# of times involved in hostage-taking events (including present). If past hostage-takings, dates?
CRS Security Level (pre-incident)
Date of Birth?
Sentence Commencement Date?
DP Eligibility?
FP Eligibility?
Previous criminal history:

Y.O. history Y/N (if yes, violent? Y/N)
List previous adult offences.
List the current offences (offences that the offender was incarcerated for prior to the hostage-taking).
Pre-incident movement?
(Admittance date to institution where incident took place, specifics regarding her arrival)
Resulting sentence from hostage-taking? Y/N.
If yes, what were the charges?
How long was the sentence? To be served concurrent or consecutive?

Risk and Needs:
Static Risk Factor Level (low, med., high)?
Dynamic Risk Factor Level (low, med., high)?
Extent of Dynamic Needs?
Associates/Social Interaction
Substance Abuse
Community Functioning
Personal/Emotional Orientation

Motivation Level (low, med., high)?
Reintegration Potential (low, med., high)?
Correctional Strategy?

Casework Control
Selective Intervention
Limit Setting
Environmental Structure
Were any programs recommended to be taken?

What programs (if any) were taken?

Assessment of offender in program(s)?

Institutional History?
(As described in investigation report) Any disciplinary charges?
Did the offender participate in any other activities within the institution (ie. School, work placement, sweats, AA, etc.)?
Assessment of offender in such activities?
Additional Comments