Canada’s Prison System Provides Model for Female Inmates

As the United States deals with a growing female inmate population, the Canadian prison system serves as a model for how to address the physical and emotional needs of women in prison, the Newark Star-Ledger reported May 25.

Canada’s progressive corrections system features houses for women in six prison complexes, a healing lodge for Native American women offenders, nontraditional job training off-site, a certified trade school, and prison tattoo parlors to reduce the spread of hepatitis through self-inflicted body art.

Canada’s prison strategy requires a “correction plan” that is individually developed for each woman entering prison. Components of the plan include education, addiction and medical treatment, parenting classes, and three months of training in nontraditional jobs.

In addition, all inmates are given intensive psychological testing and spend several hours a week in anger-management, behavior-modification, cognitive-therapy and domestic-violence-prevention programs.

While advocates throughout the United States praised Canada’s corrections model for female inmates, they acknowledged one major difference between prisons in both countries. Last year, 100,000 women were in prison in the United States, compared with 309 in Canada.