Risky Business

I read Risky Business: An Investigation of the Treatment and Management of Chronic Self-Injury Among Federally Sentenced Women after watching Cindy Berry’s testimony at the inquest today … *sigh*  SO freaking depressing.

We’ve heard from several Corrections Officers over the course of the Ashley Smith inquest that, in their opinion, things are better for women in CSC custody now… that there have been changes… improvements, even. All, of course, which are best taken with a grain of salt.

And sure enough…. the report makes it pretty clear that any claim to such improvements are most likely a function of wishful thinking.

Statistically? Incidents of self-harm have more than tripled since Ashley’s death.

And reading the descriptions of some of the incidents & findings  – ouch. Aboriginal women are over-represented, high numbers of institutional transfers, use of segregation, and additional charges….  and, as always, a lack of respect for inmates as human.

There are some differences. A new CD: Management of Inmate Self-Injurious and Suicidal Behaviour, more use of restraints, and a new report requirement (completion of a Critical Response and Incident Management Plan – a CRIMP – they do like their acronyms) …. but there is little/no evidence included in Risky Business that would seem to indicate any actual improvement whatsoever in CSC’s ability to manage offenders like Ashley Smith.

They have, of course, managed to keep their self-injurers alive since Ashley though – well, all but one of them, and she – Kinew James – apparently died as a result of a medical problem unrelated to self-injurious behaviour….. although one wonders, of course, if the staff’s lack of responsiveness to her pleas for help might have been related to her history of acting out behaviour….. a question for the next inquest?


It is all so frustrating….and yeah, depressing.

These women clearly do not belong in CSC facilities – and they certainly should not be held there for ever increasing lengths of time beyond their original sentences because CSC is so ill-equipped to deal with their needs!

This entry was posted in Aboriginal Issues, Ashley Smith, Canada, Inquiry, Kinew James, Prison, Violence against women and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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