Tuesday, November 18, 2008

In conclusion....

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed to this ongoing blog. Through networking and classroom discussion we have elicited the assistance of many different people along our journey of creating this blog. I hope all of our followers have enjoyed reading our posts as much as our group has enjoyed researching and composing them. We have looked at the issue of Transgender inmates through a critical lens, and have posited possible alternatives to the policy that we have described as discriminating. To all of our followers, please continue to comment on our blog, as we feel that this conversation is important, and there should be a positive space, such as our blog, to debate the needed changes within the prison system.

Thank you! Pat, Lesley, Jaime and Courtney.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Monitoring and Evaluating Transgender Specific Training and Case Management

Following along with Westhues book, outcome and process evaluations will be utilized as a way to monitor the impacts of training and case management. Both workers who receive training and transgender individuals will be included.

Outcome evaluations will parallel the self-determination framework where transgender inmates will self-report their perceptions of goal setting and goal achievement and whether they feel their self esteem and quality of life has increased since implementation of the new policy. This will allow for subjective information about their experiences with their intended goals. Some examples of outcome evaluation questions are as follows: Do their goals reflect their own needs? Did achieving their goals help to make their stay more positive? Have they benefited from ‘inclusive’ goal setting? Also, calculations will be made to determine whether the benefits of the new policy outweigh the costs.

Process evaluations will be used to determine whether the new policy is operating as planned and hate crimes are decreasing. To speak to the quantity of the new policy, information would be gathered about how many clients there are, whether the new policy is serving the intended transgender inmate group, and whether the transgender inmates feel they are receiving Trans positive service. To speak to the quality of the new policy, transgender inmates would be asked about how they have experienced the services available to them. For example, did they feel comfortable with their case worker? Were they able to access services such a healthcare? Did their worker help them achieve their goals? Transgender inmates will again self-report through client satisfaction surveys.

It is important to monitor and evaluate the employees as well to establish how their experience with training is, and whether the new training guidelines are actually changing transphobic attitudes. To do this, evaluations would be used targeting those who have received the training. Information would be gathered through surveys based on how many workers are trained, if they feel the training speaks to the issue, and whether they feel the content was presented in a way to promote understanding. They would also be asked if they learned anything new, and if they feel that this information contributes to the way in which they would treat a transgender individual.

Pros and Cons of Transgender Specific Training and Case Management

Implementing effective case management and transgender specific training come hand in hand. Both can begin as an effort towards consciousness-raising in prisons. The content of the training would need to be consistent across Canada; thus, it would be the same for all prisons.

Implementing inclusive case management is beneficial. First and foremost, there is space for self-determination. The transgender individual has ownership over their own life and their own body. They are seen as having the capacity to make personal life changing decisions, and in doing so, increase their quality of life while incarcerated.

There are many benefits to implementing mandatory transgender specific training. Confronting and deconstructing stereotypes, as well as challenging the discourse about transgendered inmates is essential (Mullaly, 2002); training can serve as a way to accomplish this. It also serves as an educational tool that would help to reduce hate crimes. Training can be consistent when the criteria has been approved and maintained by the Board of Directors and is the same on a national scale across Canada. Consistency in training can contribute to consistencies in the transgender inmate experience. Both training and the collaborative approach to case management can pave the way for reframing dominant ideas about gender identity. Essentially, trainers, workers and case managers can set examples for other inmates as well as themselves. New knowledge may help to create a cycle of acceptance as opposed to oppression.

Mandatory training means that every employee will receive it, however, some workers may just complete the training without changing their attitudes. Problems may surface in training in groups where dominant ideas about gender may be reinforced. By grouping transgender inmates together in order to provide services in prison, they may be seen as a homogenous group. Nevertheless, the anti-oppressive nature of the policy can address these shortcomings. Having Trans positive trainers will help with transforming transphobic workers. Inclusive case management allows the transgender inmate to have the freedom to express their individual needs while it is also an opportunity for the case worker to redefine the relationship and build trust. Furthermore, the goals of recertification and accountability insist that workers will be regularly influenced by Trans positive people, and hold people accountable for any unfair treatment. In order to ensure training and inclusive case management are in conjunction with the aforementioned goals, they will need to be frequently monitored and evaluated.

REFERENCES: Mullaly, B. (2002). Anti-Oppressive Social Work Practice at the Personal and Cultural Levels. In Challenging Oppression: A Critical Approach. Cambridge: Oxford University Press.

Inclusive Case Management

Case management is designed to look at both the static and dynamic factors that are said to contribute to incarceration and re-offending. Currently, offenders are often given a risk/needs assessment which is used to devise an individual intervention plan (www.publicsafety.gc.ca/).

In terms of transgender inmate case management, the goal is to allow transgender inmates the opportunity to be key participants in decisions regarding how their stay will be. Staying within the anti-oppressive lens, the idea is to shift the power relations away from the system to the individual. Further, it is not fair to assume that all transgender inmates require the same treatment. Where there may be consistencies in desires to access job training, legal services, housing, and welfare benefits, there are gender discrepancies in the perceived need for family, child, and parenting skills (Kenagy, Hsieh, 2005).

Recommendations include self-determination of placement, healthcare, and programs and activities by the transgender inmate. As such, collaboration and coordination are essential. The case worker’s role would be to connect the individual to internal resources, with an emphasis on health care options. This would mean creating partnerships and increasing communication between transgender specialists, clinicians, nurses, doctors, and prison guards within the facility, making community or reintegration connections upon release that may include transgender outreach or support programs, probation or parole officers, and/or external healthcare, and building trust through one to one contact. In addition, the present risk/need assessments need to be evaluated in terms of validity and reliability. It would be necessary for the intervention plan to be revised regularly as well, to take into consideration the diversity in intervention needs.

Producing knowledge about the Trans community is fundamental in creating a safe space for open communication. Case management should be inclusive and empowering. The transgender inmate’s input should be at the forefront of the agenda, after all, they are the experts in their lived experiences.

REFERENCES: Kenagy G.P., Hsieh C. (2005). Gender differences in social service needs of transgender people. Journal of Social Service Research, 31(3), 1-21.

Transgender Specific Training

Building on the collective social action necessary to promote anti-oppressive attitudes towards transgender inmates, it is essential to change the personal ideas, values and beliefs held by prison staff as individuals. As we have mentioned, transgender inmates are exposed to transphobia behind prison walls. To put an end to the ignorance of prison workers, the collective and individual opinions that currently exist need to be challenged, discussed and deconstructed.

The goal is to eliminate the stigma placed on transgendered inmates from inside the institution by creating awareness and understanding through introducing universal staff training across the nation. This would include mandatory transgender-specific training for all employees who work within any correctional facility in Canada serving both male and female populations.

Recommendations to achieve this goal focus on supplying formal education to workers as well as standardizing training practices. Training would be transgender-specific, formulated with input from the Trans community. To create consistency within Canada, universal training of prison employees would be nation wide so that every employee in each facility would have to meet the same set of requirements. Mandatory training would mean that every person who works in the prison setting MUST receive the training prior to their involvement with the inmate population, whereby the worker is evaluated by the trainers, and is certified if they show the ability to meet training requirements. Training would follow on a continuum where recertification would also be mandatory. Failure or refusal to obtain or recertify in the training would result in a legal decision where the employee would not be permitted to work at the facility until such training is carried out.

Training serves as a way to create a cycle where new ideas simultaneously permeate into the perceptions of prison workers and into the institution as a whole. By breaking down collective and personal ideas, prison workers may come together to promote further understanding of the problems specific to transgender inmates.For information on other transgender specific training initiatives, please visit: http://www.scottishtrans.org/Page/Training.aspx , or http://www.vch.ca/transhealth/resources/library/tcpdocs/training-primcare.pdf

Evaluating and Monitoring Transgender Involvement and Board of Directors

Evaluation/Monitoring: How will we know if transgender involvement and the board of directors will be effective in transforming discriminatory transgender inmate policy?

It is not adequate or sufficient enough to merely implement our policy; we also need to be constantly absorbed in the processes of monitoring and evaluating our policy. It is necessary to monitor factors such as the changes in behaviors, actions, activities and relationship interactions between staff, inmates, and other relevant individuals and organizations with which the policy effects directly. By constantly monitoring the efficiency of our newly develop policy, we can determine in which ways transgender individuals and the board of directors have influenced policy development.

In order to gather information and feedback, researchers could draw a simple random sample of transgendered inmates and distribute confidential questionnaires and/or conduct interviews that target specific issues such as discrimination, brutality and social exclusion, which were previously discovered to be detrimental to the transgender inmate’s level of well being while incarcerated. Furthermore, outcome mapping has become more common in exploring the effects of policy change and focus’s specifically on changes in behaviors and relationships which lead to either effective or detrimental actions. This technique recognizes the interplay and complexity of a situation, rather than a focusing on what caused the behavior which previous outcome and monitoring techniques tended to concentrate on. By using these and other techniques, we are able to examine and evaluate whether our policy is effective.

A successfully evaluation will allow the transgendered inmates rights to be heard and protected. Moreover, their suggestions will be transformed into constructive action. Ultimately, we hope the implementation of this policy will move beyond early intervention in the prison system and rather move its focus towards addressing preventative measures. Furthermore, we hope our policy not only improves the overall well being of the transgendered inmate, but also promotes mutually supportive and inclusive communities. An effective policy will allow the transgendered inmate the ability to advance their individual, economical, physical and cultural development.

Given the complexity of behavior, fluid beliefs and attitudes, it is necessary our board of directors participates in, attends to and critically evaluates the policy as well. It is also their responsibility to report on the barriers, pitfalls and benefits of new policy.

Implementation of Policy: The effects of transgender and board of director's involvement

New Policy: Include transgender individuals in policy creation and establish a board of directors responsible for transgender issues in all Canadian prisons.

By including transgender individuals in the creation of policy, we hope to create guiding principles of practice that are specific to the needs of transgender inmates. The board of directors will oversee and approve of any policy creation and/or change while simultaneously working with a liaison or specialist from the prison in order to appropriately manage claims of accountability when a violation of human rights or policy is made.

Implementing a policy that has been created by and caters to the specific needs of transgender individuals, may be a viable approach toward promoting social inclusion, equal access and raising awareness within the larger confines of society. We can begin to include transgender individuals in policy creation a number of ways. By creating focus groups, a discovery process can begin to occur where we as policy makers become educated as to the specific problems the transgender inmate faces on a daily basis. Questions can be created in an interactive setting where participants are free to speak with fellow inmates and researchers as to the implications of current policy and how it can be improved, amended or replaced. If contact with transgender individuals is difficult and problematic, organizations that work directly with transgender individuals may allow policy makers to gain critical insight as to the most appropriate ways of approaching and working with transgender inmates. Moreover, agencies may refer particular transgender individuals to policy makers who may be considered social activists that have already been attempting to create change within the same domains.

The implementation of the board of directors would ensure that our prison and jail systems have an objective intermediary that is responsible for investigating and determining if there is evidence of discrimination and how the issue will be resolved. Preferably, there would be one board of director per province that is knowledgeable and sensitive towards the needs of the transgender individual. We believe that both including transgender individuals in the process of policy creation and by establishing a board of directors, we will be better able to protect the rights of the transgender inmate populace.