The Catch-22 conditions of community supervision: Understanding the gendered nature of violations, sanctions, and the challenges of compliance for people with a history of traumatic brain injury

In Progress

Solutions Networks

This research project is part of the Solutions Network: Breaking the Cycle of Incarceration

What are we studying?

To better support people with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) under supervision conditions, this project explores four related questions:

  • How do people with a history of TBI manage court-mandated supervision conditions?
  • How do justice personnel set, monitor, and enforce conditions?
  • What circumstances lead to violations of conditions?
  • In what ways does gender identity shape how conditions are experienced and managed, on the one hand, and set, monitored, and enforced, on the other hand.

The prevalence of TBI among people who become entangled with the criminal justice system can range from 36 to 88%. TBI leads to cognitive, behavioural, emotional, and communication difficulties that may affect how people are able to comply with court-mandated supervision conditions, such as orders to abstain from using substances, attend treatment, and secure a job. It is important to understand how court-mandated supervision conditions are set and monitored and how people with a history of TBI manage these conditions as they live their everyday lives; especially since non-compliance can have dire consequences including a return to custody.  

How are we doing it?

We will conduct semi-structured qualitative interviews with persons with a history of TBI who have been under court-mandated supervision condition and with persons who set, monitor and support people under court-mandated supervision conditions (justices, prosecutors, defense counsels).

Why is this important?

Little is known about gender differences in TBI-related challenges and outcomes, among people under supervision conditions. For example, gender differences in both TBI challenges and supervision experiences suggest the burden of conditions is particularly acute for women. This project is designed to shed light on the challenges of complying with court-mandated supervision conditions in the context of a complex and often debilitating health issue – TBI. It will provide evidence of what is needed to support people facing these challenges and offer insights into what can be done to support community re-entry programs.

What is the impact?

We aim to generate research evidence that will inform people working in the criminal justice system on the risks of setting conditions of supervision without considering the life circumstances and gendered contexts of people living with TBI. We also aim to inform ways to support people with a history of TBI to navigate conditions that will support community transition.

Solutions Networks

Dr. Flora Matheson

Dr. Flora Matheson is a medical sociologist, mental health and addictions specialist, and the St. Michael's Hospital Chair in Homelessness, Housing and Health. Using a gender lens, she investigates the social determinants of mental health, substance and alcohol use, homelessness, problem gambling, and criminal justice involvement.


  • Dr. Angela Mashford-Pringle
    University of Toronto
  • Dr. Catherine Wiseman-Hakes
    McMaster University
  • Dr. William O’Grady
    University of Guelph
  • Tenzin Butsang
    University of Toronto


  • Madison Ford
  • Sherry Hao
  • Shahroze Zafar


  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada


  • John Howard Society Ontario
  • John Howard Society Toronto
  • Elizabeth Fry Society Toronto
  • Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee
  • Probation Officers Association of Ontario
  • Ministry of the Solicitor General
  • Provincial ABI Network
  • Brain Injury Society of Toronto
  • Canadian Mental Health Association
  • Cota
  • Ontario Brain Injury Association
  • Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Drug Treatment Court
  • Community Networks of Specialized Care
  • Neurotrauma Care Pathways Project