Life Experiences Inside Western Canadian Prisons (2016-2020)

As part of the University of Alberta Prison Project (UAPP), this exploratory study examines daily life and the challenges of being incarcerated in Western Canadian prisons, consisting of qualitative interviews, quantitative surveys, and ethnographic observation. Data collection includes interviews with almost 800 incarcerated people and nearly 200 prison staff inside four provincial prisons and two federal prisons in Western Canada.

Our research in the provincial setting investigates a variety of issues, including but not limited to radicalization, gender, gangs, programming, drugs, race-relations, and administrative segregation. For staff, this study explores their experiences on the job, best practices, and possibilities for beneficial reforms.

Our research efforts in the federal prison system pursues two main research objectives: (1) create baseline data about the realities of the victim-offender overlap for incarcerated men and women, as part of an effort to encourage organizations working at multiple levels of the criminal justice system to implement trauma-informed programming; (2) develop an empirical understanding of the consequences of the opioid and toxic drug crisis on prison life, prisoner relations, and how correctional officers perform their duties, while creating a knowledge base for best practices and advocating for harm reduction measures within the prison system.