: Dr. Leonard George
: 604.986.1911 ext. 2495
Behind Bars: Experience and Education in Women’s Prisons
Kirsten McIlveen & Laurel Whitney
Incarcerated women are
largely out of sight and thus forgotten. No longer part of their communities,
they are the most marginalized in society. The intersection of sexism and
racism victimizes women in prison. They are more likely to be younger, single,
unemployed and without a high school diploma than Canadian women in general.
But research shows that people who receive an education while jailed have a
better chance of employment post-release and are less likely to return.
Laurel and Kirsten have worked for prisoner’s
rights for over 25 years. Laurel has taught university courses in the BC
Penitentiary and Matsqui Institution, and researched restorative justice as an
alternative to incarceration. Kirsten has been visiting imprisoned women for 25
years with a group called Joint Effort. Kirsten has been a faculty member at
Capilano University for 8 years, and Laurel for many years. They volunteer as
life skills coaches for inmates on parole who have addictions problems. Their
film about how paroled inmates benefit from community support was shown at a
National Conference on Community Corrections. They teach a social sciences
course to women in the Fraser Valley Institute, a women’s prison.