For women offenders in Canada, many advances have been made to encompass a more holistic approach to their specific needs during and after incarceration.

In 1990 the Task Force Report on Federally Sentenced Women, entitled Creating Choices, was created. Creating Choices was founded on the principles of empowerment, meaningful and responsible choices, respect and dignity, supportive environments, and shared responsibility.


Creating Choices was founded on the principles of empowerment, meaningful and responsible choices, respect and dignity, supportive environments, and shared responsibility


Since that time, five new and modern regional facilities have been built, an Aboriginal healing lodge has been constructed, several women-centered programs have been developed, along with the establishment of  community strategy to expand and strengthen residential and non-residential programs and services for women on release.

Programs in the Women Offender Programs include:

The Women Offender Substance Abuse Program was established for women who were assessed as having a moderate to high need for substance abuse intervention. This program
approaches healing from substance abuse through community building to help create a supportive environment for remaining drug and alcohol free in the immediate surrounding community. Even though this program is targeted for substance abuse, the program also looks at personal emotional issues such as self awareness and self esteem, symptoms linked to past experiences of abuse, issues linked to sexuality; emotion regulation issues; and relationship issues linked to intimate partners, children, friendships and acquaintances.

Education and Employability Programs provide current marketable work skills. Vocational training, resume writing and job searching strategies are included in this program. Following course completion, offenders will be better equipped to keep a job and become more capable of sustained employment, more successful at reintegration and less likely to re-offend.

Programs for Survivors of Abuse and Trauma deal with issues of domestic violence and abuse.

Mother-Child and Parenting Program provides parenting skills and deals with issues concerning children of incarcerated mothers, such as the physical, emotional and spiritual well being of the child.

Social Integration Program for Women is a short pre release program of 12 group sessions and 2 individual contacts with the facilitator of the Social Integration Program for Women. The objective of this program is to increase readiness and reintegration into the community.

For women incarcerated in Canada, there is hope for a new life and reduced recidivism through the Women Offenders Program-Creating Choices.

About Christopher Zoukis, MBA

Christopher Zoukis, MBA, is the Managing Director of the Zoukis Consulting Group, a federal prison consultancy that assists attorneys, federal criminal defendants, and federal prisoners with prison preparation, in-prison matters, and reentry. His books include Directory of Federal Prisons (Middle Street Publishing, 2020), Federal Prison Handbook (Middle Street Publishing, 2017), Prison Education Guide (PLN Publishing, 2016), and College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American Prisons (McFarland & Company, 2014).

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