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Journal of Law & Equality

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Working Paper

Publication Date



women, prisons


This article considers the potential of rights-based advocacy to respond to the troubling reality of a growing women's prison population, and it makes an attempt to sketch out an approach to advocacy and scholarship that seeks both liberty and substantive equality for criminalized and imprisoned women. It proceeds in four parts. First, it documents some of the legislative and policy changes made to sentencing and penal law in the last decade. Next, it identifies some of the ways that these changes have an impact on women and on particular groups of women. It then suggests some ways that academics, lawyers, law students, and other feminist advocates might have a role in resisting the punishment agenda and seeking liberty and substantive equality for criminalized women. Finally, it considers "thinking outside the bars" in the light of the exploding number of incarcerated Indigenous women in Canada.

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