Arresting Hope

Re-imagining and enacting correctional centres to honour and support women in their long journey home to themselves.

Releasing Hope

Re-imagining and enacting ways to welcome and support formerly incarcerated women in their re-entry into community.


Arresting hope: Women taking action in prison inside out (2014). R. Elwood Martin, M. Korchinsky, L. Fels, & C. Leggo, (Eds.). Toronto, ONT: Inanna. (2nd printing)

Releasing Hope: Women’s Stories of Transition from Prison to Community. (2019). R. Elwood Martin, M. Korchinsky, L. Fels, & C. Leggo, (Eds.). Toronto, ONT: Inanna.

Principal Investigator: Ruth Elwood Martin (UBC)

Co-Investigator: Dr. Lynn Fels (one of many) 

How This Project is Carried Out

This long-term research project involved working with women who were incarcerated in a provincial correction center, and now focuses on the health and well-being of those currently being released and hoping to re-establish themselves in their community.

Arresting Hope is an act of hope created by a prison doctor, recreational therapist, a former inmate, and warden, who sought to empower women incarcerated within the gates of a BC correctional centre. As the research project was enacted inside the gates, women were invited to become co-researchers on the research team and to research the issues that mattered to them. The book holds the experiences, learning, and writings of the women and those who worked with them as they collectively sought to transform their prison into a place of respect, hope, and new beginnings.

Releasing Hope is the hope borne by those waiting outside the gates, notable Dr. Elwood Martin and Mo Korchinski and those who seek, through the research, to empower women who leave the gates of a BC correctional centre. The research involves a peer program consisting of formerly incarcerated women who meet and support women during the initial days of their journey back into community. Releasing Hope is a collection of writings by women formerly incarcerated who share their narratives of the challenges, barriers and hopes of recreating lives for themselves and their children, and of those of the women who meet them outside the gates.

Why This Research Matters

Women who have been incarcerated are often in correctional centers because of neglect, trauma, physical or sexual abuse they experienced either as young children or women. Turning to drugs, they are trapped by their addictions, sentenced, and incarcerated, yet their trauma is not addressed. Arresting Hope and Releasing Hope, arising out of the research project, shares their stories, their writings, and the learning of how we might re-imagine and enact correctional centres and reconsider how we welcome and support formerly incarcerated women back into community in meaningful ways that honour and support them in their long journey home to themselves.

Arresting Hope and Releasing Hope illustrate how performative and narrative writing that welcomes those whose voices are too often silenced can result in research documents that can help readers to see the women beyond their status as incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women; to listen deeply to their stories; and hopefully, to arrive at a new understanding of how we as individuals and as a society might be in the presence of those who we have imprisoned.