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From badness to madness : penal and medical knowledge in federal women's prison policy


From badness to madness : penal and medical knowledge in federal women's prison policy

Heeren, Kristy (2010) From badness to madness : penal and medical knowledge in federal women's prison policy. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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MR67203.pdf - Accepted Version


Canada's federal prison system, Correctional Service Canada (CSC), has made vast changes to the policies and structure of women's prisons over the past twenty years, claiming to have ushered in a 'new era' of "woman-centered," "culturally-sensitive," and "empowering" penology for women. Throughout this emergent policy development, the "psy-sciences" increasingly playa significant role, greatly influencing both the structure and operation of women's federal prisons and mental health services therein. This research seeks to explore CSC's women's prisons by using an institutional ethnographic strategy, textual analysis, as defined by Dorothy Smith and others. The central analysis concerns the ways in which discourse and ideology inform institutional and medical 'knowledge', and subsequently structure women's federal prisons and mental health services therein, illuminating the ways in which institutional texts regulate and facilitate policy to serve the ideological goals of the institution. The most salient and significant CSC policy texts published in the last twenty years were selected for analysis, and expressions of penal and medical "knowledges" were "mapped" to explicate the social and ruling relations that underlie CSC policy. Three primary rhetorical themes were identified in the texts: "Woman-centeredness/cultural sensitivity," "choice," and "correction/healing." These penal "knowledges" were examined and contrasted with CSC praxis. It is argued that CSC policy more accurately espouses neo-liberal ideology which reproduces sexism, racism, and the pathologization of women prisoners. It is concluded that CSC's purported achievement of a feminist and non-racist penal paradigm is more rhetorical than practical, as CSC continues to neglect social explanations for women's criminality and mental health status by individualizing women's problems and holding them personally responsible for their own criminal and mental "correction."

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Sociology and Anthropology
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Heeren, Kristy
Pagination:vii, 186 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis Supervisor(s):Shaver, F
ID Code:979228
Deposited By: Concordia University Library
Deposited On:09 Dec 2014 17:55
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:48
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