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Echoes of Imprisonment: Women's Experiences of “Successful (Re)integration”

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 July 2014

Laura Shantz
Affiliation:
Department of Criminology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5
Jennifer M. Kilty
Affiliation:
Department of Criminology, University of OttawaOttawa, ON K1N 6N5jennifer.kilty@uottawa.ca
Sylvie Frigon
Affiliation:
Department of Criminology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5

Abstract

Women who are released from prison continue to face challenges stemming from their imprisonment. This article discusses the ways in which the prison and, by extension, the state follow women out of prison into their communities. While the state attempts to ensure “successful reintegration” for ex-prisoners, its policies, which reflect a neoliberal agenda of individual responsibilization, may in fact hinder women's chances of integrating into their communities. The article explores women's experiences of (re)integration through the voices of female ex-prisoners who served long prison terms, their families, and their advocates. The control experienced in prison echoes in women's lives on the outside: they experience dislocation, marginalization, and a need to (re)negotiate their lives. While women may physically leave the prison, the experience remains imprinted on their minds and bodies as the state continues to govern them from a distance, both through the after-effects of imprisonment and through continued surveillance.

Résumé

Les femmes qui sortent de prison continuent de faire face à des épreuves provenant de leur emprisonnement. Dans cet article, nous abordons les façons dont la prison, et par extension l'État, suivent les femmes à l'extérieur de la prison jusque dans leurs communautés. Tandis que l'État tente d'assurer une réintégration réussie des ex-prisonnières, ses politiques, reflétant un agenda néolibéral de responsabilisation individuelle, entravent possiblement les chances des femmes de réintégrer leurs communautés. Ici, nous explorons les expériences de (ré)intégration des femmes par l'entremise de témoignages d'ex-prisonnières ayant servi de longues sentences, de leur famille et de leurs défenseurs. Le contrôle que ces femmes ont connu en prison résonne dans leur vie après leur mise en liberté: elles ressentent une désagrégation, une marginalisation et un besoin de (re)négocier leur vie. Tandis que les femmes peuvent quitter la prison, le contrôle qu'elles ont subi durant leur incarcération demeure imprégné dans leur esprit et leur corps. L'État continue d'exercer, bref, une autorité sur elles à distance par les séquelles de leur emprisonnement ainsi que par une surveillance continue.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Canadian Law and Society Association 2009

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References

1 Participants' names have been changed to pseudonyms to ensure anonymity.

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57Je n'étais pas capable d'aller au restaurant, au restaurant il y avail trop de monde, les centres d'achats, il y avaient trop de monde, non je suis restée chez ma belle-mère ou j'allai s chez mon père, j'allai s chez du monde, j'étai s pas capable d'aller à des places ou il y avail trop de monde.”

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85Et lorsque l'on touche an réseau communautaire en santé mentale, ils ont des facteurs d'exclusions, à partir du moment qu'on leur dit que notre client est judiciarisée, qu'elle a des problèmes de santé mentale. ils veulent pas toucher à ça.”

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88 Elizabeth Fry Societies are locally run Canadian not-for-profit organizations whose mandate is to assist women and girls in conflict with the law.

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95 Ibid.; Richie, “Challenges Incarcerated Women Face”; Chunn and Gavigan, “From Welfare Fraud.”

96 Kilty, “Resisting Confined Identities”; Pollack, “Dependency Discourse”; Snider, “Constituting the Punishable Woman.”

97 Chunn and Gavigan, “From Welfare Fraud”; Richie, “Challenges Incarcerated Women Face.”

98 CSC, Community Strategy.

99 PSC, Corrections and Conditional Release.

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