March 31, 2016 9:13 am
Updated: March 31, 2016 9:28 am

Blow-drying behind bars: Federal inmates to learn ‘pet styling’

A new vocational program will allow federal inmates in Edmonton to become registered, certified pet groomers.

Newspix/Craig Borrow / Rex Features

A group of federal inmates in Edmonton will soon be lathering, trimming and fluffing their way through a unique vocational program being offered by the Correctional Service of Canada.

A 12- to 16-week course in pet styling and dog grooming is the latest addition to the roster of courses available to female offenders at the Edmonton Institution for Women. The course will be offered to four or six women at a time, and the inmates will emerge with formal certification as pet groomers, and a membership with the Canadian Professional Pet Stylists association.

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According to a spokesperson for the federal corrections department, the course is designed to “increase job skills and meaningful employment opportunities” for female offenders. Other courses offered by the department for incarcerated women have included training to become an aesthetician, a traffic control officer, a landscaper and an interior commercial painter.

“Women offenders have unique needs and considerations that impact their response to correctional programs,” the spokesperson said in an emailed response. “As such, CSC offers correctional programs that are holistic and designed to specifically address the needs of women offenders.”

The department declined to participate in a phone interview about the course, and said that it could not provide an approximate cost for a vocational program of this type.

READ MORE: WATCH — Inmates care for abandoned dogs in ‘Paroled Pups’ program

Corrections Canada is currently seeking bids from private companies that are qualified to provide the training.

There is no dollar amount attached to the contract yet, but the successful contractor will need to be ready to start soon. The first 480-hour course needs to be rolled out and finished by March 2017, and three more courses may be offered between 2017 and 2020 if CSC extends the contract.

Because the training is happening in a prison, the contractor will also have some security responsibilities, according to the tender document.

“The Contractor must perform security duties by conducting daily checks of all equipment required for training sessions,” it reads.

The Edmonton Institution for Women is one of five regional facilities dedicated to female inmates across Canada. It has a capacity of 167 inmates, who are housed in different units depending on the level of security required.

Last November, the facility made headlines when the Correctional Investigator of Canada launched an investigation into a series of incidents within the jail and use of force by the correctional service against inmates.

WATCH: Concerns over treatment of female prisoners with mental health issues

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