On October 3 and 4, 2002, NAWL representatives participated in a two-day consultation coordinated by the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS). A number of national equality seeking women’s organizations were in attendance, as were other organizations that had previously expressed interest in the treatment of women serving federal sentences in Canadian prisons. The impetus for the consultation was a request made by CAEFS to the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) to conduct a systemic review of the situation of women serving federal sentences. Additional organizations, including NAWL, have formally added their names to CAEFS’ request for a review.
The two-fold purpose of the consultation was for CAEFS to obtain direction and feedback from participants to inform CAEFS’ submission to the CHRC and to work with the organizations present to ensure that the CHRC receives other submissions.
The unjust treatment of women serving federal sentences has been well documented in numerous reports, including the 1996 report of the Arbour Commission. At a minimum, CAEFS hopes that the CHRC will detail the treatment of women serving federal sentences, and make strong recommendations to Correctional Services of Canada. Organizations represented at the consultation have been asked to provide letters of support and/or individual submissions to the CHRC.
NAWL has formed a new working group on Women in Conflict with the Law, which will continue to work with CAEFS on the systemic review, and related future initiatives.
Kecia Podetz is a member of NAWL’s National Steering Committee and NAWL’s Women in Conflict with the Law working group.