Risking Incorporation by the State: Reforming the Federal Prisons for Women in Canada

Stephanie Hayman, University of London

The new Canadian federal prisons for women, which replaced the old Prison for Women, have been open for six years and may now be assessed by what they have achieved - and failed to achieve - for federally sentenced women. This paper asks whether the voluntary sector groups which joined the Correctional Service of Canada in 1989, as partners in the Task Force on Federally Sentenced Women, were right to participate. Has their involvement legitimated a venture which, in many respects, has left a significant proportion of federally sentenced women more disadvantaged than before? This paper examines the unanticipated consequences of the groups' engagement with the state, such as the large numbers of women now labelled as being in need of 'intensive intervention' on the basis of their security and mental health needs. It particularly focuses on the Aboriginals' involvement in the planning of the new Healing Lodge and raises the possibility that this might have led to unacceptable compromises of culture and spirituality and the Aboriginals' own incorporation into the state penal system.

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Updated 05/20/2006