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Issue of Overrepresentation

The Criminal Justice system (CJS) in Canada has its own strengths and weaknesses, despite its strengths the CJS has several challenges that should be addressed. One of the biggest issue in the CJS is overrepresentation of indigenous people in the criminal justice system. The indigenous people in Canada are very much at the risk of being involved with the criminal justice system, either as offenders or as victims (Cesaroni, Grol, & Fredericks, 2019). The indigenous people comprise about four percent of the people but in the correctional homes their population is about one third of the overall population. The ratio itself clearly shows as to how big the problem has become regarding overrepresentation of indigenous people in the CJS

Indigenous people are not just overrepresented as offenders but they are also overrepresented as victims too. Reducing the percentage of incarceration and of persecution is on top most priority of the federal government of Canada (Cesaroni, Grol, & Fredericks, 2019). The failure of the criminal justice system for the indigenous people can be manifested in different ways and one of the most prominent way to explain this failure is the overrepresentation of the indigenous people as offenders (Jones & Jensen, 2019). The failure was identified when the difference between those who are in jail and the original population was notably high. In the year 2017 and 2018, the Annual Report of the OCI or Office of the Correctional Investigator noted the overall increase in the number of incarcerated offenders. The inmates who were indigenous in nature increased by 20 percent to 29 percent. Likewise, the overall percent of the federal indigenous people of women increased by 30 percent to 40 percent. Thus, the indigenous offenders have increased substantially, the inmate population has also increased considerably (Jones & Jensen, 2019).. The Department of Justice in Canada examined the trends in adult custody that depended on data points between the year 2006 till 2020. The department drew certain conclusions based on the report prepared such as the following:

Despite the fact that the overall rate of offenders for both non-indigenous and indigenous men have fallen down, the rate of male offenders in the case of indigenous men still continues to be eight percent higher when compared to the non-indigenous men. However, in the case of women the rate of incarceration has increase considerably and continues to be higher than that when compared to non-indigenous women (Jones & Jensen, 2019).

Therefore, it can be said that while it is correct in the statistical terms it should also be understood that being indigenous is also a factor in oppression. This can be explained due to the different examples of violence including murder committed by young persons and indigenous persons. The cases addressed by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in the year 2019 of death of seven students clearly explains this point (Jones & Jensen, 2019).

The overrepresentation of indigenous persons has received a lot of attention from scholars and authors. Since the year 1989, the Royal Commission have addressed the given issue of indigenous persons either right away or in the form of associated question regarding indigenous persons in Canada (David & Mitchell, 2021). One of the most possible question that was raised in association to overrepresentation was why indigenous persons are so widely overrepresented as victims and offenders?

Statistics of Indegenous Inmates

As per the research conducted by Campbell, (2020) three possible factors have been found out such colonialism, socio economic differentiation and culture clash. Moreover, the pattern of systematic discrimination against the indigenous people can also be stated as one of the possible reasons of overrepresentation (David & Mitchell, 2021). According to RCAP, the experience of colonialism for indigenous persons came since the time when British and French tried to impose their powers to control indigenous persons. Different mechanisms of colonial control is imposed on lands and natural resources. Therefore, it can be said that the birth of overrepresentation in the CJS came from the British and French (David & Mitchell, 2021).

The impact of colonialism was long term and it left different type of negative impacts, one of them being socio economic marginalisation. Inequitable treatment of the indigenous persons is also one of the causes of overrepresentation of indigenous persons in the criminal justice system. Other causes include systematic discrimination, policing and corrections.

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What according to you are the causes of overrepresentation of indigenous people in CJS?

The indigenous people comprise about four percent of the people but in the correctional homes their population is about one third of the overall population. The ratio itself clearly shows as to how big the problem has become regarding overrepresentation of indigenous people in the CJS. Three possible factors have been found out such colonialism, socio economic differentiation and culture clash. Other possible factors include systematic discrimination, policing and corrections.

How can this issue be solved?

Some of the ways to address the problem of overrepresentation are including changes in the Criminal code of Canada especially the rules that deal with sentencing. Another way to address this issue is the formation of Gladue courts and finally issues pertaining to bail and remand should also be addressed if its impacting the justice issues related to justice of the indigenous persons. The officials belonging to the given Department have understood that there is a need of proper interaction of indigenous communities for establishing proper policy and program design and this is how policy program will become effective only when alterations at the local level are clarified.

Do you think that legal rules should be streamlined regarding overrepresentation of indigenous persons?

The overall success of the Department of Justice in Canada relating to indigenous persons plays a very important role as different type of projects are funded by them for the purpose of justice. The officials belonging to the given Department have understood that there is a need of proper interaction of indigenous communities for establishing proper policy and program design and this is how policy program will become effective only when alterations at the local level are clarified.

Based on the research conducted by me, I have drawn a significant conclusion in this regard firstly that it is very important to understand the importance of system and also that it is very important to make sure that interactions take place in an effective manner between the mainstream persons such as correctional home, policing and courts. This will make community interactions more viable. Thus, the role of mainstream officials are very important and it should work to understand their responsibility towards their roles. One of the most important section of their work would comprise of cooperation with those who are part of the indigenous communities.

Moreover, I also concluded that due to lack of proper policy development in relation to indigenous persons in Canada, the problem regarding the same continues to increase rather than decreasing. Overcoming the given challenges should be a priority of the government as well as for other organisations supporting indigenous communities. Important goals should be laid down so that a positive impact can be created towards indigenous persons in Canada.

References:

Campbell, K. M., & Wellman, S. (2020). Addressing the overrepresentation of Indigenous Peoples in the Canadian Criminal Justice system: Is reconciliation a Way Forward?. Contemporary criminological issues: Moving beyond insecurity and exclusion, 145-164.

Cesaroni, C., Grol, C., & Fredericks, K. (2019). Overrepresentation of Indigenous youth in Canada’s criminal justice system: Perspectives of Indigenous young people. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 52(1), 111-128.

David, J. D., & Mitchell, M. (2021). Contacts with The Police and The Over-Representation of Indigenous Peoples in The Canadian Criminal Justice System. Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, 63(2), 23-45.

Edney, R. (2005). Imprisonment as a last resort for indigenous offenders: some lessons from Canada?. Indigenous law bulletin, 6(12), 23-26.

Jones, D., & Jensen, P. (2019). The history of policing and Indigenous persons in Canada. Police responses to mental health in Canada, 278-295.

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