Incarcerated Women and Leisure: Making Good Girls Out of Bad?

Alison Pedlar, Felice Yuen, Darla FortuneIncarcerated Women and Leisure: Making Good Girls Out of Bad?

Women in prison are among the most marginalized of populations, and the general perception
of women who have come into contact with the criminal justice system as either mad or bad is
fairly persistent. Therapeutic interventions that are in place for this population are designed with
rehabilitation and re-integration in mind. In large part, the rationale for this is that these women
will one day return to the community, and the goal is to ensure that their behaviour is ‘normalized’
so they can return as law-abiding citizens. This exploration critically examines a leisure intervention
known as Stride that is brought into a federal prison for women in Canada. Using data from
qualitative interviews, the paper employs the women’s voices to consider whether the leisure and
recreation they experience through the Stride intervention is functioning to normalize behaviour
and ultimately make good girls out of women who are deemed bad by society. The authors, employing
critical criminology and creative analytical practice, conclude that leisure and recreation
opportunities do not seek to change or normalize behaviour of the women. Instead, the activities
provide a setting for recreation participation that fosters friendships among incarcerated women
and women in the community. Implications for practice point to the relevance of informal opportunities
for recreation participation and friendship development, which can provide critical support
to women in their reintegration efforts once released from prison.

Author Alison Pedlar, Felice Yuen, Darla Fortune
Volume Vol 42, No 1 (2008)
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