Exploring the Impact of the Segregation Intervention Initiative on Offender Outcomes

Project: Master’s Thesis
Supervisor: Dr. John Weekes
Date Completed: January 2016

Administrative Segregation (AS) is the correctional practice of removing an offender from the general inmate population, and relocating him/her to an isolated cell for up to 23 hours a day. This is done for the safety and security of the individual or the institution. There are concerns around the use of AS including its impact on mental health and the lack of access to services for offenders. The purpose of the Segregation Intervention (SI) is to help transition offenders out of AS and to change problem behaviours. The current study explored the impact of the SI using a retrospective cross-sectional design with data drawn from a Canadian sample of offenders. SI participants (n = 292) were 2 times more likely to participate in correctional programs and to complete said programs within a 6-month follow-up period, compared to a matched group of non-participants (n = 292). SI participants were also 1.5 times more likely to be employed by the institutions. This study offers preliminary evidence to support the use of interventions in AS, and sets a trajectory for future research looking at programming in segregation.

Related Awards
May 2013. Joseph-­Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship. Master’s Award ($17,500).

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A Sin Covering Eye: Forgiveness, Respect, and Compassion in the Criminal Justice System 

Project: Potential presentation for the Association for Baha’i Studies
Status: In progress

The Writings of the Baha’i Faith exhort us to “look upon our enemies with a sin covering eye…” ‘Abdu’l-Baha Abbas, the son of the prophet founder of the Baha’i Faith, Baha’u’llah, says:

We must look upon our enemies with a sin covering eye and act with justice when confronted with any injustice whatsoever, forgive all, consider the whole of humanity as our own family, the whole earth as our own country, be sympathetic with all suffering, nurse the sick, offer a shelter to the exiled, help the poor and those in need, dress all wounds and share the happiness of each one.

What are the implications of this teaching on how we treat and view offenders in our society? The governing body of the Baha’i Faith, the Universal House of Justice, states that there are three protagonists involved in the construction of society: The individual, the community, and the institutions. How do each of these protagonists apply the above teaching when dealing with immorality and law-breaking?

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Mental Time Travel: Is Experience Everything?

Project: Honours thesis (Link to eThesis
Supervisor: Dr. Angela Birt
Date Completed: April 2012

According to research on mental time travel, differences between episodic memory and episodic future thought are due to temporal direction (i.e., past vs. future). Recently, it has been suggested that it is familiarity with memory details that may affect such differences. Following the recombination methodology of Addis, Pan, Vu, Laiser, and Schacter (2009a), participants (N = 27) were asked to recall episodic memories, and to imagine episodic events in the past, present, or future using memory details collected prior to the experiment. Data on both self-report and objective characteristics of the remembered and imagined events were collected. It was predicted that familiarity with memories and associated details, not temporal direction, would account for the differences between episodic memory and future thought. Results did not support this hypothesis, but demonstrated that the variation between episodic memory and episodic future thought is due to the relationship between remembering and imagination. Suggestions are made to (a) change conceptualization of episodic future thought such that the focus is on the process of imagining and not on mental projection into the future, and (b) replicate the current design with a false memory condition to validate and expand upon the findings.

Related Awards
May 2012. Canadian Psychological Association’s Certificate of Academic Excellence to recognize outstanding achievements made by students in Psychology.

Jun 2012. Canadian Psychological Association’s Brain & Cognitive Sciences Student Research Award for outstanding research.

Mar 2013. MSVU Library Award for outstanding research skills (Sister Francis de Sales Endowed Award).