Why We Do It

Profile of the Women We Serve

Each woman who walks through our doors brings with her a unique story and set of circumstances. These women are mothers, sisters, daughters and friends. They have dealt with a multitude of complex issues such as sexual abuse and violence, mental health issues, and addiction. Their family histories often include inter-generational poverty, which not only impacts housing, education and health care, but also available opportunities and self-esteem.


  • These women are often criminalized due to their circumstances and consequently, their crimes of survival.
  • From 2005 to 2015, the number of federally incarcerated women has increased by more than 50%; a growth rate that surpasses that of men which increased by less than 10% over the same period.
  • Women, particularly, those who are radicalized, young, impoverished, and/or struggling with mental health issues—represent the fastest growing prison population.
  • The serious violent crimes for which women are charged and convicted must be appropriately contextualized. Overwhelmingly, the actions of women in these contexts are defensive or otherwise reactive to violence directed at themselves, their children, or another third party.
  • 86% of federally sentenced women self report being physical abused, while 68% report sexual abuse. This rate increases to 90% for Indigenous women.
  • More than 70% of federally sentenced women are mothers to children under the age of 18 and have primary childcare responsibilities. Separation from their children and the inability to deal with problems surrounding this separation are major anxieties for women in prison.
  • Approximately 50% of provincially sentenced women do not have a high school diploma, as compared to 15% of women in the general population. For Federally sentenced women, this rate is closer to 79%.
  • Approximately 66% of provincially sentenced women and 78% of federally sentenced women were unemployed at the time of their admission to prison.
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