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Federally Sentenced Women in Administrative Segregation: A Descriptive Analysis

2004 N° R-158

Cherami Wichmann
and
Kelly Taylor

 

Research Branch
Correctional Service of Canada

 

May 2004

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We would like to thank Mark Nafekh for his work with the databases and providing the data on which this project is based. We appreciate the guidance and editing expertise provided by Kelley Blanchette, Larry Motiuk and Ralph Serin. Finally, we would like to acknowledge the assistance of Brigitte Dublois and Mike Hayden from Performance Assurance regarding issue of population and segregation breakdowns for women.

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

In March of 1997 the Task Force on Administrative Segregation released a report entitled “Commitment to Legal Compliance, Fair Decisions and Effective Results: Reviewing Administrative Segregation” (Kane, 1997). The creation of this Task Force was a direct result of the recommendations and issues highlighted by the Commission of Inquiry into Certain events at the Prison for Women in Kingston (Arbour, 1996), examining the circumstances surrounding events that occurred in April 1994. Madame Justice Arbour reported concern over the use of administrative segregation in federal institutions.

Subsequently, two research reports have been completed. In the first, Motiuk and Blanchette (1997) found that inmates placed into administrative segregation were identified at intake to be higher-need than non-segregated inmates in six of seven areas: employment; associates and social interaction; substance abuse; community functioning; personal/emotional orientation; and attitude. A second study by Zinger and Wichmann (1999) focused on the mental health and functioning of segregated male offenders, and reported few negative effects resulting from long-term segregation. Although these reports were informative and provided much knowledge of use to the field, the samples were almost exclusively male, and therefore provided little information concerning the characteristics of federally sentenced women who had been segregated. As such, the focus of the present study was to compare women who had been placed into administrative segregation to those who had not.

All data used in this study were derived from the Offender Management System maintained by the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC). Over the three-year period covered by this study (January 31, 1997 to January 31, 2000), 811 segregation placements of women incarcerated in federal institutions were recorded. The average length of stay in segregation was 10 days. The most common type of segregation was involuntary, predominantly due to the fact that the women posed a threat to others or to the running of the institution (Section 31 (3A) of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act). Disciplinary segregation was not often used as a sanction for women offenders (6.8% of placements versus 74.7% for involuntary segregation).

Examination of the profiles of segregated women led to some preliminary conclusions. To begin, 23% (a representative proportion) of these women were of Aboriginal descent, and a majority had contact with the criminal justice system in the past. It also appears that the majority of these women had some adjustment difficulties, as assessed through their involvement in institutional incidents. The data suggest that women voluntarily and involuntarily segregated had the most difficulties adjusting to the institution. Certainly more of these women were rated as having high needs at intake and as being high risk cases. Interestingly, a vast majority (70%) had been previously identified as having considerable difficulty in the area of personal and emotional functioning.

Comparative analyses between matched groups of women who had or had not been confined in involuntary administrative segregation indicated many significant differences that could be identified at admission and throughout the sentence. Demographically, segregated and non-segregated women in this study were very similar. However, despite these similarities, women who were later confined to involuntary administrative segregation were more likely to have been involved with the criminal justice system at a young age and to be more involved in criminal behaviour prior to the current sentence. Also, these women were more likely to have committed violent offences in the past. When admitted on their current sentence, they were rated as higher in static risk factors and in dynamic needs. At intake, more of these women were rated as having considerable difficulty in areas relating to interpersonal functioning and personal/emotional functioning as well as substance abuse.

During their current sentence, women placed into involuntary administrative segregation had more difficulty adjusting to the institutional environment, than women not placed in segregation. Finally, women who had been placed in segregation were less likely to be granted early release and were less successful in reintegrating back into the community. It is suggested that prospective research investigate these issues further.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

LIST OF TABLES

 

LIST OF FIGURES

 

SEGREGATION OF FEDERALLY SENTENCED WOMEN

There has been controversy over the use of segregation in jails and penitentiaries. Much of the research and commentary has originated from the United States, a country with more austere penal reform than Canada. Nevertheless, the practices of Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) have also been criticized. For example, Martel (2000) employed a qualitative methodology to study the segregation experiences of several women (n=11) and expressed a need for systemic improvement.

To bring context to the debate, a previous study focused on the characteristics of segregated inmates (Motiuk & Blanchette, 1997), and another on the effects of long-term segregation on men inmates (Zinger & Wichmann, 1999). This present study is the first quantitative report on the segregation of federally sentenced women in the Canadian System.

Regulations Regarding the Use of Segregation in Federal Institutions

Due to the apparent misconceptions concerning the nature and purpose of segregation in Canadian Penitentiaries (see Martel, 2000), a description of segregation seems appropriate. Briefly, there are two forms of segregation: administrative and disciplinary. Regulations regarding the use of both are determined by law, as set out by the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA), and by policy, outlined in Commissioner's Directives. These regulations apply to federally sentenced women (FSW) as well as to men.

Administrative Segregation

Administrative segregation can be voluntary or involuntary in nature. Voluntary segregation is requested, often in the interest of the inmate's safety. Involuntary segregation is at the discretion of the institutional head. Regardless of the impetus for segregation, each confinement must be justified on the basis of one of the three paragraphs of subsection 31(3) of the CCRA. Further, segregation must be the only reasonable alternative in all cases:

  • 1) the inmate poses a danger to staff, other inmates or to the security of the institution (31-3a);
  • 2) the inmate may interfere with an ongoing investigation (31-3b); or
  • 3) the inmate's own safety is at risk (31-3c).

While in administrative segregation an inmate retains those rights and privileges allowed in the general population that may be provided in the segregation area (CCRA Section 37). Commissioner's Directives (CD) No. 590 and No. 597 refer to services and support to which inmates must have access (e.g., psychological services, recreational activities, programming) to the extent that is possible in a segregation area. Further, the environment must be "safe and healthful" and the inmate's physical needs adequately cared for (CCRR, Section 83(1)&(2)).

Five days after the initial confinement, a hearing must be held to determine whether the inmate will remain in segregation. Thereafter, every thirty days, a psychologist or psychiatrist must provide a professional opinion regarding the inmate's mental and physical adjustment to segregation. There is no time limit on the duration that an inmate may remain in administrative segregation.

Disciplinary Segregation

The second form of segregation is disciplinary in nature, and is a sanction resulting from conviction of a serious disciplinary offence. The maximum period of confinement in this case is 30 days (CCRA, Section 44 (1-F)). Unlike administrative segregation, which is managed by an institutional head, disciplinary segregation is determined by an independent chairperson. In addition to confinement in segregation, part of the sanction may include loss of privileges; thus conditions can be harsher than those of administrative segregation. Moreover, there is no need to hold hearings or to provide other administrative segregation-like procedural safeguards for inmates serving sentences in disciplinary segregation as it is governed by an independent chairperson. However, there must be the same degree of program access as provided for administrative segregation (CD No. 597).

Segregation Experiences of Federally Sentenced Women

In 1990, the Task Force on Federally Sentenced Women made its recommendations to the Correctional Service of Canada. As a result of this task force report “Creating Choices”, a holistic approach to corrections for women has been taken. As one component of these changes, five regional facilities and an Aboriginal Healing Lodge were built to take the place of the single institution, Prison for Women, which previously housed most federal women offenders.

From 1995 to 2004, the multi-level women's facilities were opened across Canada. Women classified as medium- and minimum-security moved into these new facilities as they opened. After some initial security incidents, women classified as maximum-security were temporarily relocated to Prison for Women (in Ontario)1, or in co-located units2. In 2001, Structured Living Environment houses were constructed at each regional facility to accommodate women, classified as medium- or minimum-security, with higher mental health needs. Women with severe mental health needs that could not be appropriately serviced within the regional facilities were housed at treatment centres such as the Regional Reception Centre (Quebec) and the Regional Psychiatric Centre (Prairies). In 2003, Secure Units opened at three of the regional facilities3 and the majority of women classified as maximum-security now reside within these environments.

With the adoption of the recommendations of the Task Force, the correctional experience of women sentenced to federal terms has changed dramatically. Programs and management strategies have been developed to further address the unique needs of women. Even the physical environment of the regional facilities differs from the traditional penal institution. As such, for women residing in the regional facilities, the segregation environment is very different from that experienced in the past.

1 Prison for Women officially closed in July, 2000.
2Co-located units are separate units housing women at Springhill Institution (Atlantic Region) and Saskatchewan Penitentiary (Prairie Region).
3Secure Units are located in Truro, Nova Scotia, Joliette, Quebec, & Edmonton, Alberta.

 

Impetus for the Present Study

In March of 1997 the Task Force on Administrative Segregation released a report entitled “Commitment to Legal Compliance, Fair Decisions and Effective Results: Reviewing Administrative Segregation”. The creation of this Task Force was a direct result of the recommendations and issues highlighted by the Arbour Report, released in 1996, examining the circumstances surrounding the events which occurred at the Prison for Women in April 1994. Madame Justice Arbour reported concern over the use of administrative segregation in federal institutions.

The Task Force requested that CSC Research Branch: 1) review the characteristics of segregated inmates; and 2) study the risk factors associated with, and long-term effects of, segregation on inmates. As a result, two research projects were later published. The first, by Motiuk and Blanchette (1997) indicated that segregated inmates were higher-need than non-segregated inmates, at intake, in six of seven areas: employment; associates and social interaction; substance abuse; community functioning; personal/emotional orientation; and attitude. The second report, by Zinger and Wichmann (1999) focused on the mental health and functioning of segregated male offenders, and reported few negative effects of long-term segregation.

Although these reports were informative and provided practical knowledge to front-line staff, the samples were almost exclusively male, and therefore offered little information concerning the characteristics of segregated federally sentenced women. As such, the goal of the present study was to examine patterns of segregation use, profiles of segregated women, and comparative analyses of women who had and had not been segregated.

Framework of the Study

The present study was organized into three phases, each with a separate focus (see Figure 1). In phase one, a quantitative description of the patterns of segregation use with federally sentenced women (FSW) was determined (e.g., types, reasons, regional variation in use). In phase two, descriptive profiles of the women placed in segregation were completed including demographic characteristics and risk/need evaluations. Finally, in phase three comparative analyses were used to explore differences between women who had and those who had not been placed in segregation during their current sentence.

Figure 1: Organization of the Present Study

Organization of the Present Study
*Note: All phases of the present study cover the period of January 31st 1997 to January 31st 2000.

 

DATA COLLECTION

All variables used in this study were derived from the Offender Management System (OMS) maintained by the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC). Information on the offender's current offence, sentence length and security level at intake was extracted from an offence database maintained by CSC. Institutional incidents were identified through the use of incident reports logged by correctional staff at the institutions. Case-specific information was retrieved from the Offender Intake Assessment (OIA) module on OMS. Briefly, comprehensive information was collected regarding each offender's criminal and mental health history, social situation, education, and other factors relevant to identifying static criminal risk and dynamic programming needs.

 

PHASE 1: USE OF SEGREGATION

All records of administrative and disciplinary segregation for federally sentenced women between January 31, 1997 and January 31, 2000 were examined for the purposes of describing the prevalence and particulars of segregation usage in federal facilities.4 Over the three-year period covered by this study, 811 stays in segregation were recorded for FSW on OMS. When considering voluntary, involuntary and disciplinary segregation types, the average length of a stay in segregation was 10 days (Mdays = 10.12, SD = 14.66), however, there appeared to be wide variation, ranging of 1 to 172 days.

Results

Segregation Use

Regional use. As indicated in Table 1, Ontario recorded the highest number of segregation stays (39%) followed by the Prairies (23%), Quebec (21%), and the Atlantic region (17%). These regional distributions were undoubtedly affected by the fact that nationally, approximately half of the placements into segregation were for women residing in the co-located units or in Prison for Women and half were residing in the regional facilities. The fact that there are many more women housed in the regional institutions compared to number of women in the other units indicates that segregation is more often used with women classified as maximum-security. As segregation stays appear to reflect institutional adjustment and to some degree, security risk, this finding is not surprising. It will be the challenge of future research to determine more conclusively if women in maximum security have more adjustment problems because they have been placed in segregation, or require segregation due to their existing adjustment difficulties.

Overall, the length of the segregation period was similar across regions. The majority of the segregation stays (90%) were 24 days or less; half of the placements were for periods of five days or less.

4 No segregation records exist for federally sentenced women (FSW) in the Pacific region due to the fact that until March 2004 all women incarcerated in that region were housed in provincial facilities through Exchange of Services Agreements.

Table 1: Regional Distribution of Average Admission Rates and Segregation Placements

Region Distribution of Segregation Placements
Prairies 23%
Ontario 39%
Quebec 21%
Atlantic 17%

Type of segregation. There was also some variation in the type of segregation used across regions. Overall, involuntary administrative segregation was most often recorded (see Figure 2). However, voluntary administrative segregation accounted for one third of the segregation use in the Ontario region, yet disciplinary segregation was almost never used (.03%)5 . Conversely, in the Prairies voluntary segregation was seldom assigned (3% of the time), but disciplinary segregation accounted for one fifth of the segregation periods.

5 These numbers were confirmed with CSC's Performance Assurance Sector, and verbally confirmed with staff working in the institutions in the Ontario region.

Figure 2: Breakdown of Type of Segregation by Region

Breakdown of Type of Segregation by Region

Voluntary Segregation

Total voluntary administrative segregation accounted for 18.5% of all segregation stays in the three-year period under review (see Figure 2). The predominant reason for placement in voluntary segregation was for the woman's personal safety (92.0%), although 8.0% were segregated voluntarily due to the potential danger they posed to others or the operation of the facility (see Table 2). The average length of stay in voluntary segregation was five and a half days (Mdays= 5.59, SD= 7.44). Most of the women spent between 1 and 13 days in segregation, although there was considerable variability (range = 1 to 70 days; see Table 2).

Table 2: Breakdown of Length of Placement and Reasons for Segregation by Type of Segregation

Type Length of Placement Reason for Segregation6
  Mean # of Days (SD) 31(3-A) 31(3-B) 31(3-C) 44(1-F) Total
Voluntary 5.59 (7.44) 12 0 138 0 150
Involuntary 11.24 (16.08) 417 37 152 0 606
Disciplinary 7.62 (5.10) 0 0 0 55 55
Total 9.95 (14.66) 429 37 290 55 811

Involuntary Segregation

The majority of placements in this period were to involuntary administrative segregation (74.7%) (see Figure 2). The main reason was that these women were considered to be a danger to others or to the good order of the institution (68.8%). However, a number were considered to be in danger as well (25.1%) (see Table 2). The average length of stay in involuntary segregation was just over 11 days (Mdays= 11.24, SD= 16.08). Although periods of involuntary segregation ranged from 1 to 176 days, the majority of women remained confined for less than 27 days.

6 Reasons for segregation: 31 (3-A)-Danger to others or running of the institution; 31 (3-B)- May interfere with an ongoing investigation; 31 (3-C)- Inmate in danger; and 44 (1-F)- Disciplinary Segregation.

Disciplinary Segregation

Disciplinary segregation accounted for only 6.8% of the placements (see Figure 2). As discussed previously, disciplinary segregation can only be administered under section 44 (1-F) of the CCRA. The length of the stays for disciplinary segregation were much shorter; on average, just seven and a half days (Mdays= 7.62, SD= 5.10) with the majority of the women (90%) being confined for between 1 and 15 days.

 

PHASE 2: PROFILES OF SEGREGATED WOMEN

Due to the fact that disciplinary segregation was seldom employed in federal institutions, only those women who had been placed in administrative segregation were profiled (n=229).7 The majority of these women had been placed in involuntary segregation (76.4%). Six percent had been placed in voluntary segregation, and a number been placed in both voluntary and involuntary segregation during their present sentence (17.5%).

Results

Demographics

Only 14 of 229 women in the present sample had been placed solely in voluntary segregation. The proportion of Aboriginal women in this group (n=2) was slightly lower than the national representation of Aboriginal women under federal jurisdiction at the time of the study. The admission age for voluntarily segregated women ranged from 20 to 44 years, with an average age of just over 33 years (Mage= 33.21, SD= 7.04). The women placed solely into involuntary segregation (n=175) ranged from 18 to 54 years of age at admission, with an average age of about 30 years (Mage= 29.78, SD= 7.48). One quarter of these women were of Aboriginal descent.

Finally, only 40 of 229 women in the present sample had been placed in both voluntary and involuntary segregation. These women's ages ranged from 19 to 48 years, with an average admission age of just over 30 (Mage= 30.40, SD= 7.62). The proportion of Aboriginal women in this group (17.5%) was similar to the national representation of Aboriginal women under federal jurisdiction.

7 However, periods of disciplinary segregation are discussed as part of the profiling section.

Criminal History

Overall less than half of all segregated women had contact with the criminal justice system as youths (see Table 3). However, the majority of segregated women had prior adult convictions. When continual involvement in criminal activities was examined, it was discovered that few (17%) voluntarily segregated women had no crime-free period of more than a year or had been incarcerated for the current offences less than six months after a previous incarceration. However, about one third of the women in the other two groups (31.1% and 39.4%) had continually been involved in criminal behaviours.

Table 3: Criminal History by Segregation Group

Criminal History8 Voluntary (n=13) Involuntary (n=148) Both (n=33)
Any Young Offender Dispositions 16.7% 35.8% 36.3%
Prior Adult Convictions 91.7% 75.0% 88.2%
Continual Criminal Behaviour 16.7% 31.1% 39.4%

8 Due to missing data, sample sizes were reduced.

Current Sentence

There was no common offence type noted for the majority of women placed into administrative segregation. Only one voluntarily segregated woman was sentenced to life for her offences, the remaining women were sentenced to terms ranging from two to eight years (Mlength= 3.92, SD= 1.85). At the point at which the snapshot was taken (end of January 2000), these women had served an average of 40 months of their sentence (SD=27.65) with a range of 1 to 118 months being completed. Five percent of the involuntarily segregated women in this group were sentenced to life for their offences, the remaining women were sentenced to terms of two to fifteen years (Mlength= 3.77, SD= 2.62). These women had served an average of 35 months of their sentence (SD=39.73) with a range of 1 to 342 months completed. Fifteen percent of the women who had been segregated both voluntarily and involuntarily were sentenced to life for their offences, the remaining women were sentenced to terms of two to eighteen years (Mlength= 4.76, SD= 3.58). As of the end of January 2000, these women had served an average of 54 months of their sentence (SD= 55.95) with a range of 1 to 262 months being completed.

Static and Dynamic Criminal Risk Factors Assessed at Intake

As a result of a comprehensive intake assessment process, each woman was rated with regard to her overall level of static and dynamic criminal risk factors by institutional staff. Just under one third of the group of voluntarily segregated women were rated as high criminal risk at intake, but almost one quarter were rated as low criminal risk. Further, almost half of these women were rated as high needs at intake (see Figure 3). When dynamic domains were examined, it became apparent that more than half of these women had high needs in the personal/emotional area and just under half had difficulties with substance abuse (see Figure 4). Few voluntarily segregated women had difficulty in the areas of associates or community functioning.

Figure 3: Percentage of Women Rated as High Need or High Risk

Percentage of Women Rated as High Need or High Risk

 

Figure 4: Women Assessed with Considerable Difficulty by Need Domain

Women Assessed with Considerable Difficulty by Need Domain

Just under one third of the involuntarily segregated women were rated as high criminal risk at intake; one fifth were rated as low criminal risk. Half of these women were rated as high needs (see Figure 3). Further, the most frequently assessed criminogenic needs for involuntarily segregated women included substance abuse and personal emotional functioning. However, more than a quarter of the women segregated involuntarily were rated as having difficulty in the areas of associates, marital and family and employment/education. Alternatively, few of these women had significant difficulty in the areas of community functioning and attitudes (see Figure 4).

Just over half of the women segregated both voluntarily and involuntarily were rated as high criminal risk at intake, and none were rated as low criminal risk. Further, 70% of these were rated as high needs at intake (see Figure 3). Moreover, no need area was endorsed for less than 18% of this group. The most common need for these women was personal emotional (70%), followed by substance abuse (45%; see Figure 4).

Institutional Adjustment

During the period under review, none of the voluntarily segregated women had been placed in disciplinary segregation, and an average of two institutional incidents were recorded for each woman (SD= 3.16). The women had been placed in voluntary segregation from 1 to 2 times (Mtimes= 1.15, SD= .38), for an average of 6 days in total (range from 2 to 22 days, SD= 6.32).

During the period under review, 10% of the involuntarily segregated women had also been placed in disciplinary segregation, and an average of 6 institutional incidents was recorded for each woman (SD= 13.39). The women had been placed into involuntary segregation from 1 to 10 times (Mtimes= 2.28, SD= 1.99), for an average of 24 days in total (range from 1 to 178 days, SD= 31.38).

Thirteen percent of the women who had been segregated both voluntarily and involuntarily had also been placed in disciplinary segregation, and an average of 21 institutional incidents were recorded for each woman (SD= 31.46). The women had been placed in segregation from 2 to 55 times (Mtimes=9.43, SD= 10.86), for an average of 95 days in total (range from 5 to 668 days, SD=125.28).

Table 4: Institutional Adjustment by Segregation Group

Institutional Adjustment Voluntary (n=14) Involuntary (n=175) Both (n=40)
Ave. # of Times Segregated 1 2 9
Ave. # of Days Segregated 6 24 95
Ave. # of Institutional Incidents 2 6 21
Placed in Disciplinary Segregation 0% 10% 13%

Summary of the Profiles

Examination of the profiles of the three groups of segregated women leads to some preliminary conclusions. A majority of these women had had some contact with the criminal justice system in the past and 23% of these women were of Aboriginal descent. It also appears that the majority had some difficulty adjusting to the institution (as assessed through involvement in incidents). However, without a comparison group it is difficult to determine if their functioning was any different from those women who had not been placed in segregation. This issue will be addressed in the next section.

Some disparities between women with different segregation experiences were also identified. For example, when the snapshot was taken, involuntarily segregated women had served least amount of time, followed by voluntarily segregated women, and then women who had experienced both types of segregation.

The marked differences between women with both voluntary and involuntary segregation experience and the other groups of women suggest that they may have more difficulties adjusting to the institution. Certainly more of these women were rated as having high needs at intake and as being high criminal risk cases. Interestingly, a vast majority (70%) of these women had been previously identified as having considerable difficulty in the domain of personal and emotional functioning. In the future, selection of larger samples will allow statistical analyses to explore between-group differences.

 

PHASE 3: COMPARATIVE ANALYSES

The third phase of the study involved comparative analyses between women who had and those who had not been placed segregation during the period under study. Notwithstanding the fact that the profiles of segregated women yielded some initial differences, there were relatively few women who had been voluntarily (n=14) or voluntarily and involuntarily segregated (n=40), only women placed into involuntary administrative segregation were included in the third phase comparison (n=175).

To undertake comparative analyses, women who had been placed in involuntary segregation (n=175) were matched with women who had not been placed in administrative segregation, on the amount of time served in their sentence and their age at admission (n=175).9

Results10

Demographics and Current Sentence Characteristics

There were no between-group differences for age of the segregated (Mage= 29.78, SD=7.49) and non-segregated women (Mage= 30.05, SD= 7.68) since this variable was used to match the groups. However, there was non-significant trend for the segregated group to include more women of Aboriginal descent (25.9 % versus 16.8%) and fewer women of Black ancestry (10.6% versus 20.5%).

There were no between-group differences on the type of admission to their current sentence, type of offence, nor length of the term assigned. Approximately six percent of the entire sample was serving a life sentence. The remaining women were sentenced to terms of 2 to 32 years (M= 3.67, SD= 2.84).

9 Matching allowed for comparable periods for assessing institutional adjustment.
10
Due to the number of chi square tests run, p values of less than .01 were required for statistical significance to be achieved.

Criminal History

Several between group differences were noted when the women's criminal histories were examined (see Figure 5). Significantly more women who displayed continual criminal behaviour prior to the current sentence had been placed in segregation during their current sentence ( 2(1)=12.12, p < .001); almost one third of the segregated women had been free from supervision for less than six months or had had no crime-free period of one year prior to their current incarceration.

Figure 5: Criminal History by Group

Criminal History by Group

There was also a significant association between contact with the youth justice system ( X2(1)=7.02, p < .01) for segregated women, and a trend for more segregated women to have had prior adult convictions X2(1)=5.24, p < .05). Seventy-five percent of the women segregated during their present sentence had previous conviction, compared to 63% for the non-segregated women. Also, the segregated women had a greater amount of contact as adults (F(1,273)=10.12, p. <.005, r2=.04) and a higher percentage had histories of violent behaviour than non-segregated women (53.1% versus 27.8%; X2(3)=79.88, p < .001).

Static and Dynamic Factors

Assessments of these two groups of women, completed at intake, yielded some very interesting differences that may help to explain their subsequent placement into segregation (see Figures 6 and 7). For instance, women who were later segregated were more likely to have been rated as high risk (30.0% versus 14.6%) compared to offenders who were not later segregated ( X2(2)=87.72, p < .001). Also, the group of women who later experienced segregation were also rated as having more overall difficulty with needs ( X2(2)=37.02, p < .001). Specifically, half of the women who were later segregated had been rated as high in criminogenic needs, whereas less than a quarter of the non-segregated women were rated as such. Conversely, one third of the non-segregated group had been rated as having low needs compared to less than ten percent for the segregated group.

Figure 6: Static Criminal Risk by Group

Static Criminal Risk by Group

When specific dynamic factor domains (i.e., needs) were examined, between group differences were discovered for four of the seven domains (see Figure 8). At intake, the women who were later segregated were rated as having more serious difficulty in the areas of associates ( X2(3)=17.64, p < .001), marital/family ( X2(3)=14.71, p < .01), personal emotional orientation ( X2(2)=21.62, p < .001), and substance abuse ( X2(2)=25.34, p < .001) domains than women who were not subsequently placed in segregation. Further, fewer of the subsequently segregated women were found to have strengths in the areas of attitudes and marital/family domains.

Figure 7: Dynamic Factors by Group

Dynamic Factors by Group

 

Figure 8: Considerable Difficulty in Dynamic Factor Domains by Group

Considerable Difficulty in Dynamic Factor Domains by Group
Note: *** p < .001; ** p < .01.

Institutional Adjustment

The institutional adjustment of both groups of women was examined from admission until January 31st 2000. Because the groups were matched on the amount of time served in the present sentence, assessments of institutional adjustment were comparable (i.e., offenders had a similar amount of time to adjust to incarceration). One manner in which adjustment was assessed was through the experience of disciplinary segregation (see Table 5). Results indicated that involuntarily segregated women were more likely to have been confined in disciplinary segregation during their present sentence (12.0% versus 1.7%; X2(1)=14.49, p < .001). Moreover, they were more likely to have committed new offences during their current sentence than non-segregated women (16.3% versus 4.0%, X2(1)=14.42, p < .001).

A second indicator of adjustment was the number of incidents during incarceration in a federal facility (see Table 5). In the present study, segregated women had been involved in six times more institutional incidents than women who had not been segregated (F(1,348)=24.63, p <.0001), even though they had spent equal time in custody. When individual incident types were examined, it was discovered that more incident reports were completed for segregated women due to: commission of violence; discipline problems; incidents of self-harm; involvement in intelligence; contraband-related activities; involvement in disturbances; being victimized; being involved with substances; escape related incidents; and other type of incidents. The very low frequency of involvement by non-segregated offenders (less than 5% over all categories) compared to that of segregated women provides a good indication of the relative adjustment of these two groups of women. Further, the pattern of results can not be explained simply as a function of segregation experience yielding greater scrutiny by staff, as there was a wide range of incident types noted.

Table 5: Breakdown of Incident Involvement by Group

Criminal History Non-Segregated (n=175) Segregated (n=175)
Ever in Disciplinary Segregation*** 1.7% 12.0%
New Convictions in this Sentence*** 4.0% 16.3%
Average Number of Incidents (SD)**** 0.96 (4.98) 6.32 (13.39)
Other Incidents*** 11.4% 42.9%
Commit Violence*** 5.1% 42.3%
Discipline Problems*** 5.1% 28.0%
Incidents of Self-Harm*** 3.4% 18.9%
Involved in Intelligence*** 5.1% 18.3%
Contraband Related*** 4.6% 17.7%
Involved in Disturbance*** 1.1% 17.1%
Victimized*** 5.1% 16.6%
Substance Abuse Incidents*** 3.4% 14.3%
Escape Related Incidents*** 1.1% 8.6%
Protective Custody Requests 0.0% 0.6%

*** p< .001; **** p< .0001

Release and Readmission

Table 6 depicts the release and return rates for both groups of women. Women who were segregated during their current incarceration had different patterns of release and success in reintegration than non-segregated women. As of January 2000, 77.7% of the non-segregated women and 65.7% of the segregated women had been released. Importantly, the segregated women were 42.4% less likely11 to have been granted a discretionary release.12 Further, these women were 53% more likely to have been released more than once (i.e., have at least one prior release) in their current sentence. For segregated women, these prior releases were more likely to have been non-discretionary in nature (i.e., statutory release). These findings indicate that the segregated women are less likely to be released early, and less likely to be successful upon their release (as indicated by multiple readmissions) than non-segregated women.

11 Comparative analyses are not presented in a table.
12
As part of the reintegration strategy of Correctional Service of Canada, offenders can be granted a discretionary release prior to the expiration of their sentence. For example, offenders who are assessed as lower-risk to re-offend may be granted day- or full-parole.

 

Table 6: Release and Readmission Rates by Group

Release and Readmission Non-Segregated (n=175) Segregated (n=175)
Current Sentence    
 Multiple Releases in this Sentence** 17.7% 37.7%
 Prior Statutory Release (Current)*** 8.6% 23.8%
Most Recent Information    
 Released 77.7% 65.7%
 Discretionary Release*** 89.0% 51.3%
 Release Type    
  Day Parole 23.5% 21.7%
  Full Parole 65.4% 29.6%
  Statutory Release 9.6% 42.6%
  Warrant Expiry Date 0.7% 2.6%
 Other 0.7% 3.5%
Revocation with new Offence 6.3% 8.7%
Revocation without Offence* 10.9% 18.6%

Note: * p < .05; ** p < .01, *** p < .001.

Summary

The third phase of the present study involved comparative analyses between two matched groups of FSW who had or had not been in confined in involuntary administrative segregation from January 31, 1997 to January 31, 2000. Results indicated that demographically, these women were very similar. In fact, these women were the same age when admitted on their current sentence, had committed similar types of offences, had been assigned similar terms of incarceration, and had served approximately equal number of months of their sentences. Further, both groups included approximately equal number of Aboriginal women. Nevertheless, there were many significant differences between these two groups of women that could be detected at intake and throughout their sentences.

Also, despite these similarities, women who were later confined to involuntary administrative segregation were more likely to have been involved with the criminal justice system at a young age and to have been continually involved in criminal behaviour prior to their current sentence. Further, these women were more likely to have convictions for violent offences in the past. When admitted on their current sentence, they were rated as higher in static criminal risk and in dynamic needs. Finally, more of these women were rated as having considerable difficulty in areas relating to interpersonal (i.e., marital/family and associates), personal/emotional functioning, and substance abuse.

During their current sentence, women placed into involuntary administrative segregation had more difficulty adjusting to the institutional environment, than women not placed in segregation. Also, women who had been placed in segregation were less likely to be granted early release and less successful when released to the community. These findings, unequivocally demonstrate that important differences exist between women who are placed in segregation and those who are not.

 

DISCUSSION

The goal of the present study was to bring a context to the discussion of the segregation of federally sentenced women by providing empirical information concerning administrative segregation. As such, profiles and characteristics of women who have been placed in segregation were presented. This paper was not a discourse on how women view their experiences of isolation, but rather an analysis of the association between factors assessed at intake, institutional adjustment, reintegration efforts, and the experience of segregation.

The findings from the present study indicate that there were differences between the women placed in segregation compared to those who were not. These women are more likely to be high criminal risk and high needs at intake and to have difficulties adjusting to the institution. These findings support those reported by Motiuk and Blanchette (1997). Further, they are less likely to be granted early release, and when they are released, they are less likely to successfully reintegrate back into the community.

These findings suggest that even at admission, women who later experience segregation can be differentiated from those who do not. These characteristics may act as risk factors and vulnerabilities that could be attended to at the beginning of a woman's sentence, and could reduce her likelihood of subsequent placement in segregation. Women have probably benefited from the increased attention and programming implemented through the Intensive Intervention Strategy. Perhaps prospective research will demonstrate further decreases in the use of segregation for women.

 

REFERENCES

Arbour L. (1996), Commission of Inquiry into Certain Events at Prison for Women in Kingston. Ottawa, ON: Queen's printer.

Boe, R., Olah, C. L. & Cousineau, C. (2000). Federal Imprisonment Trends for Women 1994-65 to 1998-99. Research Report R-#93. Ottawa, ON: Correctional Service of Canada.

Correctional Service of Canada. (1990). Creating Choices: Report to the Task Force on Federally Sentenced Women. Ottawa, ON: Correctional service of Canada.

Dell, C. A., & Boe, R. (1998). Adult Female Offenders in Canada: Recent Trends. Research Brief B-#21. Ottawa, ON: Correctional Service of Canada.

Kane, D. (1997). Commitment to Legal Compliance, Fair Decisions and Effective Results. Ottawa, ON: Correctional Service Canada.

Martel, J. (2000). Solitude and Cold Storage: Women's Journeys of Endurance in Segregation. Edmonton, AB: Elizabeth Fry Society.

Motiuk, L.L., & Blanchette, K. (1997). Case Characteristics of Segregated Offenders in Federal Corrections. Research Report R-#57. Ottawa, ON: Correctional Service of Canada.

Zinger, I., & Wichmann, C. G. (1999). The Psychological Effects of 60 Days in Administrative Segregation. Research Report R-#85. Ottawa, ON: Correctional Service of Canada.