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Doing Time on the Outside

Doing Time on the Outside: Deconstructing the Benevolent Community

Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 192
  • Book Info
    Doing Time on the Outside
    Book Description:

    Criminalized women are the focus of great interest in contemporary sociological research all over the world, however much of the growing body of work in this area has focused on the prison. Considerably less attention has been paid to women serving their sentences in the community.Doing Time on the Outsidefills a gap in the research by focusing on the experiences of women on conditional release, and attempting to understand how some criminalized women avoid going back into custody given the many challenges they face.

    Using data collected in a series of interviews, MaDonna R. Maidment identifies four major factors characterizing women's attempts at re-integration. First, the fewer 'layers of social control' a woman lived under prior to her prison term, the greater her chances of staying out of prison. Those women accustomed to a lifetime of formal social controls are vulnerable and largely dependent on continued intervention. Second, women's own accounts of their success do not coincide with official definitions. For many women who have spent their lives being controlled by state agencies, managing a relatively short period of independence in the community marks a major milestone. Third, for those women who have managed to stay out of the criminal justice system, a majority remain tightly entangled in other state-sponsored control regimes, where patterns of dependency, medicalization, and infantilization still persist in the treatment of women. Fourth and finally, familial and social support networks are paramount to women's successful re-integration, far more so than professional supports provided by state and community agencies. Maidment's important findings have significant implications: they beg us to re-examine how our society processes criminalized women, and to call into question well-entrenched contemporary policies, which have failed to account for the economic, social, and cultural realities of women's lives.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7401-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-13)

    The 1990s were ushered in on the promise of ‘correctional’¹ renewal for criminalized women in Canada. Sociopolitical pressure in the years prior to the launch of a ‘reformist agenda’ came to bear on the federal government to overhaul its ideological approach to criminalized women. Subsequent inquiries and government reports (most notably the Task Force on Federally Sentenced Women 1990; and the Arbour Commission Report 1996) highlighted the deficiencies of women’s prisons and called for a woman-centred² approach to guide both substantive and ideological reforms. However, any illusion of change has been deflated over the years with mounting evidence that not...

  5. 1 Penal Controls on Criminalized Women
    (pp. 14-32)

    Internationally, Canada is erroneously hailed as a leader among industrialized countries for both its ideological and substantive approaches to imprisoning women. Developments in this country over the past decade have seen a purported shift in penal philosophy that now masquerades as progressive policies for imprisoned women. To counter the notion of Canada as benevolent jailer, this chapter interrogates the discourse surrounding women’s involvement in crime by deconstructing the language that dominates the management of women in Canadian prisons and moves towards a broader understanding of the forces that perpetuate an oppressive criminal justice system.

    As a starting point to assessing...

  6. 2 Sociopolitical Context of Criminalizing Women
    (pp. 33-46)

    It is imperative to situate the constrained structural and economic parameters within which women generally are forced to operate on a daily basis, because we know that conditions of poverty are amplified once women exit the prison. It is illogical to expect an economic improvement for a woman who has just served a prison term and been effectively removed from the labour market for a considerable period. Therefore, broader structural forces surrounding women’s criminality are canvassed through the lens of both neoconservative and neoliberal strategies of governance that have brought about a dismantling of the welfare state, an offloading of...

  7. 3 Stumbling Blocks to ‘Corrections’ Research
    (pp. 47-56)

    Despite a decrease in the overall crime rate in Canada, the incarceration rate continues to climb steadily. Canada now ranks among the top five jailers in the Western world in incarceration rates (Correctional Service Canada 2005). The numbers of women incarcerated in Canada have been steadily climbing, and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador is no exception to this trend. In 1997-8, fifty-six women were sent to prison in Newfoundland and Labrador, representing 3.9 per cent of all prisoner admissions. In 1998-9, that number was eighty, representing 5.3 per cent of the total custodial population¹ (Newfoundland and Labrador, Department of...

  8. 4 Getting In: Pathways to Prison
    (pp. 57-81)

    The next four chapters are taken up with data analysis and respectively include pathways to prison, the prisoning of women, transitioning from prison, and the persistence of control agents in women’s lives upon release. To begin the criminalization trajectory, this chapter explicates women’s pathways into prison. Doing so necessitates a review of some of the well-documented themes in the literature on women in prison generally and, in particular, as collectively identified by women in this study. These major categories include the poverty trap, coping with past abuses, histories of state controls, and defiance of gender norms.

    To situate the analyses,...

  9. 5 Doing Time on the Inside: Prisoning of Women
    (pp. 82-101)

    Logically, localized criminal justice initiatives cannot be looked at without also examining prisons. The prison experience plays a major role in how women adjust (or not) to their period of localized release. How women experience and cope with the pains of imprisonment (Sykes 1958; Johnson and Toch 1982) affects their ability to reconcile the pains of release. The former are well documented to have longlasting effects on the physical, psychological, economic, and social well-being of prisoners (McGee 2000; Martel 1999) and cannot be ignored in looking at women’s experiences of reintegration. Indeed, women place a huge premium on their prison...

  10. 6 Getting Out: Immediate and Measurable Transitions
    (pp. 102-122)

    The transition from prison back into the outside world is a very difficult and anxious time for anyone. The challenges facing women upon release are compounded by systemic gendered inequalities in society. As Eaton has pointed out: ‘Whatever disadvantages the woman suffered from before prison she now faces the world with the added disadvantage of a prison experience and a prison record. She is a prisoner and she brings this knowledge, this identity, out into the world. The prison experience will affect her response to the outside world, the prison record will affect the response of others to her. When...

  11. 7 State and Localized Controls
    (pp. 123-145)

    The major finding of this book centres on the layers of social controls that characterize the lives of criminalized women. The more layers of formal state control that a woman has encountered prior to her coming into prison, the less likely she is to break away from the criminal justice system upon release. Furthermore, institutional responses to criminalized women are replicated at the local level, where transcarceral strategies of social control push the so-called clients of the criminal justice system ‘from one section of the help-control complex to another’ (Lowman, Menzies, and Palys 1987: 9). By managing and supervising criminalized...

  12. Conclusion: Where to From Here?
    (pp. 146-152)

    This book confirms several well-known pathways to women’s criminalization including poverty, sexual and physical abuse, histories of state controls, and defiance of gender norms. Moreover, it reveals several important new findings. First, the more layers of social control that a woman has encountered throughout her life, the less likely it is that she will stay out of prison. These layers of social control include foster care, child protection, prolonged reliance on social assistance, and interactions with psychiatry and/or mental health agencies. Statesponsored controls, often under the guise of local agents, continue to pervade women’s lives long after their sentences have...

  13. Appendix: Research Guide
    (pp. 153-156)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 157-164)
  15. References
    (pp. 165-178)
  16. Index
    (pp. 179-188)