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Women and Sentencing Workshop Proceedings

NCJ Number
Date Published
21 pages
This workshop dealt not only with the participants' ideas on women and sentencing and women within the criminal justice system, but also with what they saw as the underlying causes of crime, including poverty, sexual and racial inequality, disability, cycles of violence and powerlessness, and abuse of power.
The workshop was a result of a grant from the Canadian Department of Justice to the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies to coordinate a national consultation by women's groups on sentencing, following the release of the 1987 report of the Canadian Sentencing Commission. The workshop objectives were to bring these groups together to discuss sentencing issues, to explore common ground among the groups, to consider how these groups could most effectively participate in the sentencing review process, and to continue the review of criminal justice issues by women's groups. The participants felt that women are centrally affected by the criminal justice system as victims, offenders, and family members of victims and offenders; the criminal justice system, however, does not recognize the reality of women's lives nor acknowledge that the woman offender is also a victim of society's injustice to women. These biases are reflected in the sentencing process. Most of the participants agreed the whole system, not just the sentencing element, needed to be reformed, but they disagreed whether this should be worked on in a holistic or piecemeal fashion. The women offered new sets of values, priorities, and options for sentencing, and specifically discussed issues regarding disabled, black, and aboriginal women.