Imprisoning Our Sisters: the New Federal Women’s Prisons in Canada
April 11, 2013
The federal Prison for Women in Kingston, an isolated, unsafe penitentiary characterized as ‘unfit for bears, much less women’, finally closed in 2000. Stephanie Hayman charts the development of the five new prisons that replaced it, including an Aboriginal healing lodge, placing her study within the context of Canadian colonial and political history. Using extensive interviews and previously unexplored archival material, Hayman examines the work of the Task Force on Federally Sentenced Women and assesses the opening of the first three prisons. She questions the notion that prisons can simultaneously ‘heal’ and punish, suggesting that the power of ‘the prison’ inevitably triumphs over the good intentions of reformers. “Imprisoning Our Sisters” also looks at the disproportionate number of Aboriginal women prisoners. Hayman shows how the concept of a healing lodge has led to the integration of Aboriginal culture and spirituality into official penal discourse and contributed to wider reform during a period when Canadians were trying to provide a distinctive solution to the problem of imprisoned women.
Imprisoning Our Sisters: the New Federal Women’s Prisons in Canada, by Stephanie Hayman. Montreal : McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2006. 298 p. ISBN 9780773530799 (pbk.)
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