Correctional Service Service correctionnel Canada Canada the 2002 mental health strategy for women offenders jane Laishes Mental Health, Health Services



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APPENDIX A




SUMMARY OF THE CSC REPORTS USED TO SUPPORT THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE INTENSIVE INTERVENTION STRATEGY (IIS)

A number of studies of CSC's incarcerated women were undertaken in an attempt to better define the mental health and maximum security populations who were targetted for the Intensive Intervention Strategy. Key amongst these reports are the following:


In 1998, an outbreak of self-injurious behaviour occurred in the women's unit of the Regional Psychiatric Centre in the Prairies. During an eight month period, there were 82 self-injurious incidents, of which the vast majority involved four women. An investigation highlighted the need for a greater clinical expertise and leadership in cognitive-behavioural techniques, a greater integrated Aboriginal component, an improved therapeutic environment, and a multi-disciplinary approach (LaPlante & McDonagh, 1998).
In 1999, a needs analysis was undertaken to obtain information regarding the mental health, living skills, and security needs of women with intensive mental health needs, and those classified as maximum security. Key findings from this study were as follows:

  • 75% had a significant substance abuse problem, and 70% of this group had a comorbid psychiatric diagnosis.

  • Almost half were identified as at risk for suicide (of this group two thirds had attempted suicide in the past two years).

  • Half had a history of self-injury.

  • 75% experienced difficulties with coping and problem solving, self-care, and motivation.

The most frequently identified treatment need was for psychological support including the need for individual counselling. This study generated information that assisted in the choice, design, and implementation of the primary treatment interventions to be used in the Intensive Intervention Strategy (McDonagh, Noël, Wichmann, in press).


In 1999, a qualitative research study was undertaken to help identify interventions necessary to address the issues and needs of maximum security women, and to facilitate the reduction of women's maximum security classification. Interviews conducted with women inmates and staff captured the perspectives and experiences of non-Aboriginal, federally sentenced women who were classified as maximum security in order to increase an understanding of their personal and institutional realities (McDonagh, 1999).
Key findings were as follows:

  • Distinct programming strategies, both in terms of program content and delivery, are necessary given the variability in the sub-populations with respect to such things as the women's cognitive capacities, attention spans, and ability to contain their emotions.

  • Intensive programming is required to address aggressive behaviour/ attitudes and alternatives to violence.

  • The presence of a predictable and relatively speaking, safe environment lessens the risk of psychological decompensation.

  • There is value in using a multi-disciplinary team approach to manage this population.

A companion report to McDonagh's work, presented the opinions, observations, and suggestions of federally sentenced maximum security Aboriginal women and CSC staff on the procedures, policies, and programs that were in place to help reduce the women's security levels (Morin, 1999). Amongst Morin's key findings were the need for a specialized treatment program to address suicidal and self-injurious behaviour, and the need for full-time Elder counselling services.


Another study that examined the experience of women in federal penitentiaries made the following observations with respect to programming (Warner, 1998).

  • Women with very different needs may be incompatible in less secure environments.

  • Larger group situations may be difficult or dangerous due to emotionally charged relationships.

  • Women have entrenched and long-term behaviour patterns which may require individualized and intensive learning programs.

  • Supportive, consistent, and "present" staffing is most conducive to the establishment of supportive relationships.

  • Multi-disciplinary team approaches with mental health expertise are best.

  • Therapeutic quiet as a behaviour management option is necessary for short term reprieve.

  • Facilities need to be designed to meet program needs.

  • Stigma and labeling issues must be addressed.

  • There is a need for specialized mental health programs, most notably, psychosocial rehabilitation, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy.


APPENDIX B



OVERVIEW OF WOMEN OFFENDERS IN CSC

The following tables provide information with respect to women offender's their security classification, Criminal Code offense category, length of sentence, ethnic background, and the number of Community Residential Facility (CRF) accommodation beds available for various types of conditional release (though mostly for day parole). Women on day parole are accommodated in CRF such as halfway houses managed by non-profit organizations, satellite apartments, and increasingly, in private home placements.



Security Classification1

SECURITY CLASSIFICATION

% OF OFFENDERS

Maximum security

12%

New admissions (not yet classified)



12%


Offense Categories2



OFFENSE CATEGORIES

% of offenders incarcerated

% of offenders community

First degree murder (life sentence, eligible for parole after 25 years)

4%

1%

Second degree murder (life sentence, eligible for parole set by Court between 10 and 25 years)

14%

12%


Total

100%

100%


Length of Sentence 3


LENGTH OF SENTENCE

% of offenders incarcerated

% of offenders community

Under 3 years

36%

33%

3-6 years

27%

35%

6-10 years

13%

11%

10 years +

5%

8%

Life/Indeterminate

19%

13%

Total

100%

100%


Ethnic Background4

ETHNIC BACKGROUND

Incarcerated

Population

Community

Population

Aboriginal

25%

15%

Total

100%

100%


Community Corrections5

REGION

Beds available for women in

Women-only agencies

Beds available for women in

Co-ed agencies

Atlantic

4

23

6Quebec

17

0

Pacific


4

0

Total

106

33
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