A Hand in the Darkness

A Hand in the Darkness is a documentary project filming in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The film follows a young mother relating stories of her past life of prostitution, drugs, and gangs, to her clean life and work with agencies to support women who are criminalized or at risk.


Our interview with Toni Sinclair, Executive Director of EFry Edmonton.

EFry Building

The Elizabeth Fry Society of Edmonton’s historical building.

Currently, we are in the final stages of post production and will be submitting to festivals for 2015.

What Kinds of Issues Does A Hand in the Darkness Address?

We’re interested in educating people about the root problems, like poverty and racism, which lead to women in prison in Canada and hope to explore issues like1:

What are some common factors linking women in prison?

Female prisoners are most likely racialized, young, poor women and women with mental and cognitive disabilities.

Women and girls account for 70% of people who live in absolute poverty and women are often criminalized for activities they regard as necessary for their economic survival (80% of women are imprisoned for economic related crimes).

Two thirds of federally sentenced women are mothers.

Eighty percent of all federally sentenced women report having been physically or sexually abused.

Why is the number of women being incarcerated increasing so much faster than the number of men?

The fastest growing prison population worldwide is women. Crime rates in Canada reached a 25 year low in 2006, yet the numbers of women being imprisoned are increasing. Between 1997 and 2006, the number of women in federal prisons grew by 22%.

Why is the cost of incarcerating women almost double that of men?

The cost of imprisoning a woman in a federal Canadian prison is estimated to average $175,000 per year and can be higher than $250,000 per year for women kept in the most isolated and segregated conditions of confinement.

1Data collected from http://www.caefs.ca/feature/fact-sheets/

By following a woman who went to prison and is now involved with the Elizabeth Fry Society and gang prevention and intervention, we also hope to explore:

What criminogenic factors would cause someone to come into conflict with the legal system?

What correctional programs are available to inmates?

What community-based services and resources are available to women?

How can the community get involved to support criminalized or at risk women?


The Elizabeth Fry Society of Edmonton


Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies