Government reports versus offenders’ experiences: toward the resolution of discrepancies in healthcare and healthcare delivery

Pegah Memarpour (Department of Sociology, Faculty of Arts, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, Canada)
Rose Ricciardelli (Department of Sociology, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, Canada)
Pauline Maasarjian (Department of Sociology, York University, Toronto, Canada)

International Journal of Prisoner Health

ISSN: 1744-9200

Publication date: 21 December 2015



Canadian literature on federal correctional institutions and prison living indicate a shortage inadequate and available healthcare services to meet the needs of the prison population, despite prisoners higher rates of health challenges (e.g. mental health, addictions, HIV/AIDS) in comparison to the general population. With fewer resources, concerns arise about the delivery, quantity, and quality of penal healthcare provision. Thus, the authors examines former prisoners’ experiences of, in comparison to government reports on, wait-times, and request processes for healthcare services, as well as issues of access, quality of interactions with healthcare professionals and the regulations and policies governing healthcare provision. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


The authors compare data gathered from interviews with 56 former-federal prisoners with publicly available Correctional Services Canada reports on healthcare delivery, staff-prisoner interactions, programmes and services, and overall physical and mental health to identify consistencies and inconsistencies between the government’s and former prisoners’ understandings of penal healthcare.


Discrepancies exist between prisoners reported experiences of healthcare provision and government reports. Prisoners are dissatisfied with healthcare provision in more secure facilities or when they feel their healthcare needs are not met yet become more satisfied in less secure institutions or when their needs are eventually met.


Theories of administrative control frame the analyses, including discrepancies between parolee experiences and Correctional Service Canada reports. Policy recommendations to improve healthcare provision are highlighted.



Memarpour, P., Ricciardelli, R. and Maasarjian, P. (2015), "Government reports versus offenders’ experiences: toward the resolution of discrepancies in healthcare and healthcare delivery", International Journal of Prisoner Health, Vol. 11 No. 4, pp. 225-242.

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