Female Offenders in Canadian Corrections

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Female Offenders in Corrections|
Jarrod Birch|
Criminology 252|
Karin Kaercher|


Female offenders that enter into the correctional system in Canada do so with an entirely different set of risk factors than their male counterparts. Through comparisons and contrasting of facts, this paper will set out to identify the issues correctional services in Canada face when dealing with female offenders entering into the system. For example, female offenders that end up in the corrections system experience much different lives than males do; such as one in four women being identified as having mental health issues upon their entry into the system. In addition to mental health issues, the majority of women in prison have experienced some sort of abuse and, or, trauma at one point in their life (Public Safety Canada, 2010). Although males experience abuse, trauma and many suffer from mental health they are brought into the corrections system with a certain framework that is specialized and formulated to rehabilitate and reintegrate a male offender back into society. This gender specialization works well for the disproportionally high number of male offenders but leads to several short comings when working with women in the same system (Wright, Salisbury, & Van Voorhis, 2007). “For too long women have been boxed in by a grid-like structure which is dominated by visions of male criminality. It is time that the gender realities which dominate the lives of many females are integrated into the assumptions underlying the guidelines.” (Wald, 2001). This quote explains that women have very different needs upon sentencing and in order for a sentence to be successful in preventing recidivism and producing a motivated individual in society upon release; these needs cannot be ignored or addressed by using the same correctional philosophy as a sentenced male. Comparing the “risk/needs model” for men and women plus the lack of gender specialization for female offenders will provide the reader with an idea of the current state of corrections in Canada with regards to a female offender. By highlighting the lack of facilities across the country to house federally charged female offenders and the minimal amounts of programming available to females currently; the reader will gain perspective into the difficulties corrections personnel face in successfully reintegrating female offenders back into society. Female Offenders

Female offenders generally are guilty of committing property crimes in Canada. However, criminal behaviour of females is not limited to property crimes by any means. Violent crimes committed by women tend to be ‘sensational’ stories for the media to pick up on as they are quite rare, but, the violation of gender norms has led to increased coverage and unwarranted attention to the violent female offender and therefore distorting the public’s view on female offenders in general (Dell, Fillmore, & Kilty, 2009). It is not unheard of for women to engage in violent behaviour, and some suggest that female violence is on the rise (Chesey-Lind, 2001). According to a study done by the FBI, in the United States of America, between 1989 and 1998 the arrests of adolescent girls increased by over 50 percent; whereas the increase for boys was an increase of just under 20 percent (Chesey-Lind, 2001). These statistics must not be taken out of context however. This “rise” in arrests, is actually more of a closing of the gap between arrest statistics and what has always been happening (Chesey-Lind, 2001). As stated by (Streib, 2001) it is not unheard of for women to even be sentenced to death albeit not in Canada. Women, account for approximately one in one hundred and forty executions in the US and of the 8,000 plus executions in the US since 1900, only forty four of them have been women (Streib, 2001). Nevertheless, the truth still remains that the majority of female offenders commit...
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