If imprisonment is legally conceived as an individual sentence, the scientific literature evokes the existence of an extended prison experience lived by relatives (Touraut, 2012). They experience the incarcerated person’s “sentence” in its material and social realities. The purpose of our research is to explore the various issues and difficulties faced by family members of incarcerated persons in Canada. How do family members deal with the constraints imposed by both provincial and federal prisons?
This research explores how criminal punishment crosses physical, legal and social boundaries. After obtaining a certificate of ethics approval from the Social Sciences and Humanities REB of the University of Ottawa (N051616), we undertook to recruit participants using indirect and diversified strategies. In particular, we identified and contacted community organizations in Quebec and Ontario that are active with the population concerned, such as the Canadian Families and Correction Network (CFCN), Mothers Offering Mutual Support (MOMS), Continuité Famille Auprès des Détenus (CFAD) and Relais Famille. We also contacted organizations that work on broader issues affecting this population, such as Alter Justice. We received a very positive response from these community partners who agreed to broadcast our call for participation at their meetings and on their social media (website, Facebook, etc.) (see recruitment poster in the appendix).
We conducted 16 research interviews with 17 loved ones in an initial exploratory phase that took place in 2016-2017. This exploratory phase allowed us to clarify our objectives and establish guidelines for our analysis. Following the receipt of a SSHRC grant, we then conducted an additional 25 interviews with 26 new participants between August 2018 and October 2019. We also set out to recontact all participants in May 2020 to learn how the Covid-19 pandemic was affecting their situation; 8 participants agreed to an additional follow-up interview as a result.
The interviews were conducted in French and English in two provinces: Quebec and Ontario. These two provinces, representing nearly 62% of the country’s population in a relatively small geographic area, allowed us to access a fairly diverse population. With the exception of 3 interviews conducted via Skype or telephone, all initial interviews were conducted in person at a location chosen by the participant (public place, home, or researcher’s office at the university). Follow-up interviews in the May 2010 pandemic setting were all conducted by phone or virtually. Interviews averaged 98 minutes in length.
Lehalle, S. et Plamondon-Dufour, L. (2021). Carceral Ricochet: Loved ones in the shadows of Canadian prisons and jails. 77p.