Gender in the Criminal Justice System

Essay by heenanUniversity, Bachelor's February 2005

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After examining the criminal justice system it is evident that gender plays a great part in the treatment of women in jails. A comparison of women in the criminal justice system past and present illustrates issues in the past and the achievements that have been made. This paper focuses primarily on changes in the areas of placement, programming, visits, and relationships with family and friends. With out a doubt it is shocking to see the length of time it has taken to achieve policy changes relating to female offenders.

One of the oldest and most widely debated issues relating to female offenders concerns their placement. In 1835, when there was no facility for female offenders existed, three women were placed in the infirmary of Kingston Penitentiary. By 1853, a separate ward for women was established. It then took an additional eighty-one years to pass before the Prison for Women opened in1934.

But the opening of the Prison for Women did not slow or end the debate over where federally incarcerated females should serve their sentences. Not four years after the Prison for Women opened, the Archambault Commission became the first of many commissions to suggest it be closed.

In fact, the 1914 Royal Commission on Penitentiaries had already suggested the federal government make agreements with the provinces to house female offenders so that they could be closer to their home communities. Despite this early recognition of the need for female offenders to be placed close to their families and home communities, exchange of service agreements with the provinces were not begun until 1972. Although they were a significant step forward, the agreements were limited - not all federally incarcerated women were eligible for transfer to a provincial facility. The issue of the effect of dislocation on female offenders came to...