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Crim 3365 Term Paper

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Crim 3365 Term Paper


Much of the research based on criminality and criminals is based off studies and models that were designed for men, as men make up much of the population of incarcerated offenders in prisons (Cauffman, 2008). For a long time, women offenders were subjected to the same methods of treatments, procedures and programs as men, disregarding the fact that there many gender differences which can lead to different causes of crime, different risk factors and many more. As rates of female offending increased greatly percentage wise over the years, it attracted criminologists to shift some of the research focus to women (Cauffman, 2008), and because of this, research and studies focusing on women offenders is still quite new. While there have been changes since the turn of the century, the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) continues to marginalize women and their problems in the criminal justice system and are not meeting the requirements and needs of the female incarcerated population. There are multiple issues with the policies, procedures and programs that the CSC have implemented.

Women who are sentenced to federal prisons are a vast minority of the prison population, they represent approximately 6 percent of admissions and 5 percent of the population of federal prisons in Canada (Montford, 2015). From this number, it can be interpreted with ease that women are confined in a criminal justice system which is designed for men. In 1990, Creating Choices, a report which was written by the Task Force on Federally Sentenced Women (TFFSW) and contained recommendations of gender-specific discourse of empowerment and and choice was fully accepted by the federal government and implemented by the CSC (Montford, 2015). It was arguably the first document which covered in depth the differences in gender and correctional alternatives and was the driving force of women's corrections. Creating choices can be understood as a feminist policy document due to is extensive research which focuses on women and its ultimate goals of social change and getting rid of inequalities. It also had 5 principles for incarceration of women, empowerment, meaningful and responsible choices, respect and dignity, supportive environment, and shared responsibility. The TFFSW believed that slightly altering the procedure of men's punishment and then implementing that altered procedure to women was not sufficient, and also disagreed with the fact that the socio-economic conditions and other related histories of women was largely ignored. Additionally, they believed that once a woman accepted responsibility for their actions, they should be able to take part in designing their plan of rehabilitation and aim to be released as soon as possible (Montford, 2015). Critical criminologists argue however, that the implementation of the principles of Creating Choices has not lead to the empowerment of prisoners, and under the disguise of progressive work, the system continued to punish it's female prisoners.

Then, in 2008, the Harper government accepted a report called A Roadmap to Strengthening Public Safety (Roadmap) which was written by the Correctional Service of Canada Review Panel (CSCRP) (Montford, 2015). Roadmap argued for more changes to strengthen offender accountability, eliminate drugs from prison, improve the programs, services and interventions offered by correctional facilities, reinforce community corrections and update the buildings infrastructure to a more modern standard. The conceptualization of criminalized women differ greatly in Roadmap compared to Creating Choices. Creating choices focused greatly on the gender differences, but on the other hand, Roadmap had a more gender neutral point of view and assumed that an approach designed for males can apply to all prisoners equally despite their differences in gender without consequences (Montford, 2015). While Roadmap itself is 241 pages long, only 1 section which consists of just 4 pages are dedicated to women offenders. It also recommends that the system be changed to increase the responsibility of the prisoner. Also, while Creating Choices saw women as having high needs and low risk, Roadmap sees the profile of offenders overall as changing and that this changing profile was a reflection of the policy changes as well as the deinstitutionalization of mental health services. Unfortunately, Roadmap ignores the socio-economic factors that affect a person's ability to obtain skills to become employed. Not only this, but Roadmap fails to take into account both the gender differences which share correlations with criminality or mental health, and the consequences of deteriorating social services. Instead, Roadmap sees offenders as those who have failed to learn how to become productive members of a law abiding society and blames the offender for not having a job, lacking education and lacking ambition and initiative (Montford, 2015). While Creating Choices considered that the criminalization and incarceration of women is a symptom of their histories, marginalization, and victimization, Roadmap emphasizes employability, and sees actions such as drug use and violent behavior as contributing causes of offending behavior. According to Roadmap, if these actions are not dealt with, the offenders' ability to find and keep a job will be greatly hindered (Montford, 2015). By failing to address the differences in gender, the CSCRP assumes that policies that were designed for the general incarcerated population (male dominant), with minor tweaks can be implemented to females in the federal system as well. This seems similar to the add women and stir position, which obviously does not work. Due to these problems, Roadmap does not meet the needs of the incarcerated women population.

All female offenders go through a process of security classification in which they are assigned to minimum, medium, or maximum security. Women who are assigned minimum security are least likely to be involved in incidents in the institution than those in medium security, and those in medium security are less likely to be involved in incidents than maximum security. To assess these women the CSC uses a tool called the Custody Rating Scale (CRS), and has used it for over a decade (Webster and Doob, 2004). Despite the fact that the CSC has claimed that the CRS had been repeatedly validated, many suggest that the CRS misclassifies women, Aboriginal women in particular. Security classification is of utmost importance because depending on which type of classification one is given, the level of supervision and control exercised by the prison, conditions of living, types of accommodations, procedures of restraint, location of the prison, and privileges assigned to offenders differ greatly (Grabham, 2009). The levels of security determine which types of rehabilitation programs are available and also affect the chances of eligibility for conditional or discretionary release. Not only is incorrectly classifying security levels potentially unsafe for the offender and the members of the staff who work there, but it also hinders the system's ability to fulfill its purpose. There has been criticism that the CRS was developed for a population of white males, and does not take into account gender, race/ethnicity, and socio-ecomic factors. This in turn can assign incorrect levels of security (higher) to women (Webster and Doob, 2004). Webster and Doob conducted a study in which they took the actual findings published by the CSC and through analyzing the scale and the sub scale, and found no predictive validity for Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal women. Despite their lack of involvement in institutional incidents, Aboriginal women were being given higher levels of security, even though they were, compared to non-Aboriginal women at the same level of security, less likely to be involved in incidents (Webster and Doob, 2004). Many women are being over classified and facing more restrictive lives in prison without any empiric proof, and this is evident from the fact that Aboriginal women, who were less likely than non-Aboriginal women, to be a part of an institutionalized incident scored higher on the CRS scale than those non-Aboriginal women (Grabham, 2009). From this study, it is clearly visible that the CRS does infact discriminate against gender and race and also punishes those for behaviors which are not present. The Corrections and Conditions Release Act (CCRA) requires institutions to use the least restrictive measures with prison procedures while considering the safety of the public, employees, and offenders. According to the findings of (Webster and Doob, 2004), the CRS is in direct violation of that act. Webster and Doob mention that completely getting rid of the CRS would be an improvement to the justice system which brings some perspective to how invalid some of the procedures of the CSC are (Webster and Doob, 2004). Again, further research should be conducted and more efficient tools of classifying women should be created, otherwise, women will continue to be victimized by the system.



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