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(Note From Stark Raven Radio: An audio interview on this issue will be released on prisonjustice.ca by March 1, 2005. The interview is with Kim Pate, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies.)
Correctional service promises changes in womens jails
OTTAWA (CP) - Canada's correctional service is promising to take more care in deciding where women are jailed and to better train them for jobs after they're released.
In response to two probes into the treatment of female inmates, the Correctional Service of Canada on Thursday released a long list of changes it intends to make.
Among those, CSC says it will institute a better approach to figuring out where individual women, including aboriginals and those with disabilities, should be jailed.
CSC runs five regional federal correctional facilities for women offenders as well as one healing lodge.
About 800 women are in the federal prison system, either in jail or on conditional release. Women account for about four per cent of the total corrections population.
The correctional service also said it's also working on a new employment strategy to help women become better trained for jobs after they're released.
Some of the proposals stem from a report to Parliament a year ago by the Canadian Human Rights Commission following complaints about discriminatory treatment of women in jail.
The Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, along with aboriginal and women's groups, filed the complaint on behalf of 350 federal female inmates.
They alleged the CSC discriminates against female prisoners on the basis of sex, race and disability.
On Thursday, the chief commissioner of the human right's body applauded the correctional service's proposed changes.
"The commission is pleased with the work," Mary Gusella wrote in a statement posted on the CHRC website.
Ottawa will also be watching closely, said Anne McLellan, minister in charge of public safety.
The Liberal government "will ensure that corrections for women offenders evolves within a framework that respects the law, the dignity and rights of offenders while contributing to public safety," she said in a statement.
The correctional service rejected one recommendation that suggested maximum security prisoners should be considered for transfer to a healing lodge set in southern Saskatchewan where security is quite low.
It's still considering whether to implement a pilot needle-exchange program.
The CSC also dealt Thursday with a second report, coming out of project launched in 1998 into "cross-gender" staffing - men guarding women in jail.
It rejected recommendations that would limit the use of male guards in women's prisons.
Link To Correctional Service of Canada Report:
CSC Action Plan in Response to the Report of the Canadian Human Rights Commission
Further Info on prisonjustice.ca, including information on and links to the original CHRC report: See Articles Section: Women