Center on Sentencing and Corrections

Telling the Story: A Study in the Segregation of Women Prisoners

Telling the Story: A Study in the Segregation of Women Prisoners

Martel, Joane. “Telling the Story: A Study in the Segregation of Women Prisoners.” Social Justice 28, no. 1 (2001): 196-215.

This article examines the experiences of women in segregation in Canadian prisons. Much of the literature on the effects of solitary confinement studies men, yet women, for a number of reasons, are affected and respond differently to segregation. The author conducted “a field study of 12 women who experienced segregation while in prison in the Canadian Prairies.” This study found that women were overwhelmingly sent to segregation for minor misbehaviors or failure to conform to gender expectations, such as “mouthing off.” Further, once in segregation, the study found that women were subjected to isolation, denial of basic hygiene including toilet paper, sexually degrading practices, and poor housing conditions. The effects of these conditions are damaging and extend far beyond the original intent of segregation policies.

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Keywords: solitary confinement, segregation, women in segregation, administrative segregation, disciplinary segregation, conditions of confinement, vulnerable populations, Canada

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