The Correctional Services Canada Institutional Mother Child Program: A Look at the Numbers

AuthorMartha Paynter,Ruth Martin-Misener,Adelina Iftene,Gail Tomblin Murphy
Published date01 November 2022
Date01 November 2022
Subject MatterArticles
The Correctional
Services Canada
Institutional Mother
Child Program: A Look
at the Numbers
Martha Paynter
, Ruth Martin-Misener
Adelina Iftene
, and Gail Tomblin Murphy
Women are the fastest growing population in federal prison in Canada.
Womens incarceration has signicant implications for families, as approxi-
mately two-thirds have children who face intergenerational trauma, risk of
criminalization, and health concerns. The Correctional Services Canada
Mother Child Program allows children up to age six to live with their incar-
cerated mothers. Publicly available information about outcomes associated
with the program is scarce, including the number of participants. Using
data from 20002020 acquired through an Access to Information and
Privacy request, this article presents descriptive statistics about the program.
Findings indicate the program is underused, and associated outcomes are
incarcerated mothers and children, correctional services Canada mother
child program, feminist abolition theory
University of New Brunswick, New Brunswick, Canada
Dalhousie University Health Law Institute, Schulich School of Law, Nova Scotia, Canada
Dalhousie University School of Nursing, Nova Scotia, Canada
Nova Scotia Health Authority Provincial Ofce, Nova Scotia, Canada
Corresponding Author:
Martha Paynter, University of New Brunswick, P.O. Box 4400, 33 Dineen Dr., Fredericton, New
Brunswick, E3B 5A3, Canada.
The Prison Journal
2022, Vol. 102(5) 610625
© 2022 SAGE Publications
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/00328855221121272
Women are the fastest growing population in prisons in Canada, with the
number of federally sentenced women increasing 16.3% from 2010 to
2019 (Public Safety Canada, 2019). Women are a small subset of the
total incarcerated population, representing 6% of federally sentenced
people (Correctional Services Canada, (CSC), 2019). Federal prisoners
have received a sentence of two years or more, whereas those in provincial
institutions are either in pre-trial custody or have a sentence of less than 2
years. Incarcerated people have complex social and health histories
including childhood abuse, sexual trauma, PTSD, substance use disorder,
mental illness, chronic illness, and infectious disease (Kouyoumdjian
et al., 2016). They also experience high rates of unemployment, low edu-
cational attainment, and low literacy (Mahony et al., 2017). Womens
incarceration has signicant implications for families, as approximately
two-thirds are mothers (Mallicoat, 2014) with an average of four children
(Kouyoumdjian et al., 2016). These children face intergenerational trauma
(Mussell, 2020), and risk criminalization themselves (Withers & Folsom,
2008), as well as multiple health concerns and premature death (Centre for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2019; Felitti et al., 1998).
In 1990, the Taskforce on the Future of Federally Sentenced Women
(TFFSW) released a report called Creating Choices that called for the cre-
ation of environments appropriate for childrentolivewiththeirmothers
(TFFSW, 1990). Formally implemented across the federal system in
2001 and governed by Commissioners Directive 768 (CD-768), the
stated purpose of CSCs Mother Child Program (MCP) is to foster posi-
tive relationships between women incarcerated in women offender institu-
tions and units and their children and to provide a supportive environment
that promotes stability and continuity for the mother-child relationship
(CSC, 2020, p. 1). Mothers who have not been convicted of an offense
against a child, are classied as minimum or medium security risk, and
have children up to the age of six may apply (CSC, 2020). Program sup-
porters point to evidence that keeping mothers and children together pre-
vents psychological, physiological and developmental harm to the child
(The Collaborating Centre for Prison Health and Education, 2015).
Abolitionist theorists would counter that prisons are high-risk environ-
ments, with elevated risks of disease transmission, injury and death, and
the high cost of operating prison programs such as the MCP displaces
funding that could be directed towards community-based solutions
(Critical Resistance-INCITE, 2003; Davis, 2003; Kaba, 2021; Gilmore,
Paynter et al. 611

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