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The Perspectives of Incarcerated Aboriginal Women in Canada on Personal Development Resources Proposal

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In the Canadian population, the composition of the aboriginal people takes 4%. There has been a 90% increase in the incarceration rate of aboriginal offenders with a fast rate within a frame of 10 years.

Through the Needs Assessment of Federal Aboriginal Women Offenders – an examination of the program needs of incarcerated Aboriginal women and in their post release revealed a 69% rate of high of programming needs with a moderate 29% and a low of 2%.

Security of classification of aboriginal women determines the access level for programming with aboriginal inmates having an over classification level requiring 45% for maximum security, 44% for minimum security and 18% for minimum security.

The average cost of keeping inmates in Canada has had an increase of $88,000 in 2005-06 to over $113,000 in 2009-10 annually. The daily cost of maintaining a male inmate is around $300 with the daily maintenance cost for female inmates rising up to about $578 (Kilty, 2006).

This presents the need for correctional facilities, (federal or provincial), to incorporate personal development and programming resources in the facilities to create a reduction on the level of incarceration especially for women.

There needs to be incorporation of strategies of life skill management such as financial management, work programs and employment. Effective discharge of such programs can be effective within educational and vocational programs as well as in the management of aboriginal culture and spirituality (Davis, 2001).

Aims of the study

The aim of this study is to investigate through the development of release planning programs focusing on the possibility of the possibilities of individual tailoring, which fits in personal needs and concerns for the integration of incarcerated aboriginal women into their communities.

It will also evaluate the connection of incarcerated aboriginal women to resources, which can help in the healing process and personal growth after release. Through the study, the focus will be on the experiences of the women in the programs and the recommendations they have for needed improvements of the facilities.

Significance of the Study

The relevance of this research is in its implication of the understanding of the statuses and afflictions faced by incarcerated women.

The issue of incarceration of women concerning age, gender, economic level, crime, offences, length of sentence, re-offending, security classifications and identification is important for the determination of the consequences and mediatory approaches for their case.

In consideration of issues such as Poverty, Unemployment, Lack of Education, Addictions, Family Violence and Mental Health (Trauma, impacts of Residential Schools), it is worth creating an understanding of these issues in regard to their influence on personal lives of people (Karlene, 2011).

There are personal relationships with some sort of influences responsible for their behavior, which may lead to their incarceration. This topic is relevant to law makers and women as it will help in the development of policies and educational strategies for the support of the affected women.

It will also help in the development of an understanding of the human rights of women as well as help the women in realization and recognition of their rights.

Such knowledge is transferable to other members of the society in an educational manner for the protection of other women and avoidance of the possibilities of avoidance of instances of indulgence in activities, which can lead to their incarceration (Van and Schwartz, 2011).

This study is also significant in the influencing of the activities of social workers, as it would help them in identifying the existing gaps within existing programs.

The issue of incarceration of women is applicable in the consideration of feminist theory, empowerment theory and the anti-oppressive theoretical framework (Dohrn, 2004).

Social workers can be advocators of the protection of the rights of vulnerable people in the society such as women as a process for development of equality and justice (Goode, 2008).

With cases of incarceration of aboriginal women rising to 20% of the total population in incarceration facilities, and accounting for 32.6% of female offender population meaning that in every three women under federal incarceration one is of an aboriginal descent, it is just fair to investigate into the reasons for such scenarios.

This study can help social workers to develop means of utilizing available resources to help women in regaining confidence and avoidance of instances, which can lead to their incarceration. The history of incarceration of aboriginal women has its influences and origins from the colonial periods in Canada.

At the same time, this study is will be helpful in the development of preventive strategies for protection of aboriginal women for the protection and creation of awareness to alternatives for the management of their conditions and avoidance of incarceration (May, & Brown, 2011).

Literature Review


The literature review section will evaluated journals and other accredited sources of information in an effort to review, analyze, critique and enumerate works of other scholars on the programs designed to assist aboriginal women who have been released from prison to transit from prison life to the outside world.

Besides, the study will explore the OCAP principles and the facilitation of personal growth of post release.

The study will as well examine the existing literature on the statistics presented by the Correctional Service Canada (CSC), articles on Federal Sentenced Women and Security Classifications as well as take an In-depth report by Federal Government (Public Safety Canada).

The article on the Federal Government’s current ‘tough on crime’ agenda also contains ample information relevant to this study (Muirhead & Rhodes, 1998).

Problem Aboriginal Women Face after Exit from Prisons

Various studies carried out in Australia as well as globally have demonstrated that after being released from prisons, women usually experience a considerably higher rate of depression, social isolation, mental illness, poor housing as well as homeless as opposed to men who have been released from prison (Baldry & Maplestone, 2005).

Some researches have also revealed that majority of women who have been released from prison and who experience difficulty in establishing constructive social link have a higher chance of suffering from mentally illness.

Moreover, studies indicate that majority of ex-prisoners who losses their live due to drug overdose are homeless in most cases (Shewan et al., 2001). These problems are attributed to lack appropriate release programs for prisoners as well as lack of commitment by government to initiate such programs.

Baldry et al.(2006) contends that the key reason why indigenous women who have released from prison fail to transit successful into the outside world is attributed to the fact that family support, mental health as well housing programs for this ex-prisoners.

Besides, majority of women who comes out of prisons have families and children to take care of and there is absence of suitable programs to assist them address this concern.

Baldry et al. (2003) opine that majority of women prisoners who have children have high probability of suffering from financial, physical as well as emotional breakdown in incarceration period.

Correspondingly, the same women experience difficulty establishing a reasonable home immediately after being released from prison.

Studies have also indicated that women ex-prisoners who are homeless and live in parks and streets are often harassed and interfered by police and are sometime re-arrested due to being public nuisance.

This situation is worsened by the fact that there is lack of appropriate pre and post programs for those indigenous women released from hospital.

Release Programs

As stipulated by Baldry and McCausland (2009), the post-release program for aboriginal inmate women entails assisting the released women to access health care facilities/services, to obtain employment and appropriate accommodation as well as assisting them to connect with their respective communities.

Post-release programs are critical because of the disruptions caused by incarceration. When women are released from prisons, they are compelled to deal with unconstructive experience associated with imprisonment.

One program that have been cited in literature and which have been designed to assist indigenous women who have just been released from prison is “Throughcare”.

Walsh (2004) asserts that this program play an integral role in assisting aboriginal women to transit from prison to the outside world.

It tailored to provide progressive education, support as well as treatment for indigenous women right away from the time they enter prison up to the time they exit prison and even afterwards. This program has been introduced in various countries including Canada and Australia.

There is sufficient evidence to suggest that the approach of this program coupled with long-term support for indigenous women after being released from hospital will be of critical importance in assisting these women transit successfully into the outside world.

However, despite the fact that they are numerous benefits associated wit this program, it is critical to note that its tenets emanated from a criminal justice system that is rooted in a colonized framework.

OCAP Principles

The principles of OCAP (Ownership, Control, Access and Possession) are described by First Nations Centre (2007) as one of the elements of 1st nations aspirations that are geared towards self-governance as well as self-determination.

The OCAP principles highlight a detailed framework created by 1st nations incorporate self-determination into IM (Information management) as well as into the research domain.

These principles are employed in all information/data or research initiatives that involves 1st nation and includes the entire elements of research (review and funding included), cultural knowledge, statistics in addition to monitoring.

By emphasizing the adoption of OCAP principles, 1st nation are taking control of all research regarding their respective communities.

Ownership as one of the fundamental principles of OCAP entails the link between the community of 1at nation and its information, data as well as cultural knowledge. This principle attests that that community owns the information belonging to a particular community collectively.

With respect to control principle, the rights and aspirations of first nation to take control and sustain the entire facets of their institution and lives encompassing data, information as well as research.

Research Methodology


The research methodology section outlines the steps that will be taken to conduct the research study. It is a critical section as it aids the researcher to focus on the research process of data collection, data analysis in order to achieve the research aims of the study.

The research methodology in this research study will cover the sample size and description, data collection techniques as well as data analysis plan.

Sample size and description

The target population of the study will be women identified as aboriginal within federal correction facilities. The process will take a comparison of two correctional facilities located in different provinces to determine the differences and similarities within them.

The specific respondents would be those close to the end of their sentencing while there will also be an interest on re-offenders as part of the population sample.

Data Collection Methods

For a better understanding of the experiences of the participants, there will be face-to-face interviews with them. This would allow for recording of their experiences and even making a recording of their recounts.

It will be reasonable to make consideration to the literacy level of the participants with high possibilities of most of them being without education (Muirhead & Rhodes, 1998).

That makes face to face interviewing the best alternative because it would involve a communication process for creation of a comfortable environment to tell personal stories and experiences.

The choice of a qualitative and the narrative approach for the use of semi-structured interviews allows for the inclusion of a number of demographic questions regarding age, self identification as aboriginals and the relative personal classification whether First Nation Metis or Inuit.

Other questions for interviewing the participants will inquire on the length of sentencing, their security classification (max, med, or min) and incase they were re-offenders (Landrine & Russo, 2010)

I will also look at the resources they participated in by giving them a chance to make explanations on the issues and impacts; they faced during their stay in the facilities.

I will also give them the opportunity for telling their stories to understand the circumstances under, which they committed their crimes and the aspects behind the motivation to committing such crimes (Muscat, Wells, Owen, Torres & Pollock, 2011).

In the interviews, I will also seek to know their individual experiences with the programming to help in understanding the things they considered as beneficial and the aspects they felt where of no essence to them.

The questions will look for the possibilities of their thinking that the programs focused on the issues affiliated to their gender in the bid of meeting their feminine needs such as training on parenting skills (Eddy, Martinez, Schiffmann, Newton, Olin, Leve & Shortt, 2008).

Data Analysis Plan

To create a clear understanding on the situations experienced by the participants, there will be classification of collected data for management, analysis and interpretation in accordance applicable specifications to individual participants.

These will be in terms of Poverty, Unemployment, Lack of Education, Addictions, Family Violence, Mental Health (Trauma, impacts of Residential Schools).

In categorization of information, their analysis and presentation, there will be a focus on the programs and personal development programs participants accessed during their stay.

There will be analysis of the recordings collected during the interviews of the participants. I will transcribe the recordings from the participants and later have the results presented in writing.


Baldry, E., & Maplestone, P. (2003). Aboriginal Prison Releases in New South Wales: Preliminary Comments Based on ex-Prisoner Research. Indigenous Law Bulletin, 5(22), 7-8.

Baldry, E., & Maplestone, P. (2005). Women ex-prisoners post-release’ in Bridge Foundation: Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind: Prose and poetry about the prison. Charnwood: Ginninderra Press

Baldry, E., & McCausland, R. (2009). Mother Seeking Safe Home: Aboriginal Women Post-Release. Current Issues in Criminal Justice, 12(2), 288-301.

Baldry, E., McDonnell, D., Maplestone, P., & Peeters, M. (2006). Ex-prisoners, ccommodation and the state: post-release in Australia. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 39(1), 20-34.

Davis, H. C. (2001). Educating the Incarcerated Female: A Holistic Approach. Journal of Correctional Education, 52(2), 79-83.

Dohrn, B. (2004). All Ellas: Girls Locked Up. Feminist Studies, 30(2), 302-324.

Eddy, J., Martinez, C., Schiffmann, T., Newton, R., Olin, L., Leve, L., & Shortt, J. (2008). Development of a multisystemic parent management training intervention for incarcerated parents, their children and families. Clinical Psychologist, 12(3), 86-98.

First Nations Centre. (2007). OCAP: Ownership, Control, Access and Possession, Sanctioned by the First Nations Information Governance Committee, Assembly of First Nations. Ottawa: National Aboriginal Health Organization.

Goode, E. (2008). Out of control: Assessing the general theory of crime. Stanford, Calif: Stanford Social Sciences.

Granger-Brown, A., Buxton, J. A., Condello, L., Feder, D., Hislop, T., Martin, R., & Thompson, J. (2012). Collaborative community-prison programs for incarcerated women in BC. British Columbia Medical Journal, 54(10), 509-513.

Karlene, F. (2011). Unruly women: The politics of confinement and resistance. New York: Seven Stories Press.

Kilty, J. M. (2006). Under The Barred Umbrella: Is There Room For A Women-Centered Self-Injury Policy In Canadian Corrections? Criminology & Public Policy, 5(1), 161- 82. doi:10.1111/j.1745-9133.2006.00107.x

Landrine, H., & Russo, N. F. (2010). Handbook of diversity in feminist psychology. New York: Springer.

May, D. C., & Brown, T. (2011). Examining the Effect of Correctional Programming on Perceptions of Likelihood of Recidivism among Incarcerated Prisoners. Journal of Social Service Research, 37(4), 353-364. doi:10.1080/01488376.2011.58202.

Muirhead, J. E., & Rhodes, R. (1998). Literacy Level of Canadian Federal Offenders. Journal of Correctional Education, 49(2), 59-60.

Muscat, B. T., Wells, J. B., Owen, B., Torres, S., & Pollock, J. (2011). Abuse on the Inside: Exploring Incarcerated Women’s Experience With Intimate Partner Violence. International Perspectives in Victimology, 5(2), 63-71. doi:10.5364/ipiv.5.2.63

Van de Sande, A. and Schwartz, K. (2011). Research for social justice: A community based approach. Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing.

Walsh, T. ( 2004). INCorrections: Investigating prison release practice and policy in Queensland and its impact on community safety. INCorrections Network Coalition Queensland. Retrieved from: www.incorrections.org.au/Incorrections%20Report.htm

Young, D. S., & Mattucci, R. F. (2006). Enhancing the Vocational Skills of Incarcerated Women through a Plumbing Maintenance Program. Journal of Correctional Education, 57(2), 126-140.

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