The justice system's treatment of Native Canadians continues to worsen despite all our holier-than-thou statements about how we lead the world in human rights.
The federal incarceration rate of Native people has jumped 56.2 per cent in the last decade, the Office of the Correctional Investigator reported to Parliament this week.Since 2000-2001 the Native representation in federal prisons has jumped from 17 per cent to 23.2 per cent.
Simply put, almost one-quarter of persons in Canadian federal prisons are Natives despite the fact that Natives make up only four per cent of the Canadian population.
The report also noted that 41 per cent of all women sentenced to custody in federal prisons and provincial jails are native.
A backgrounder to the report says what we all know, or should know:
"The high rate of
incarceration for Aboriginal peoples has been linked to systemic discrimination
and attitudes based on racial or cultural prejudice, as well as economic and
social disadvantage, substance abuse and intergenerational loss, violence and
Natives have lower parole grant rates, are over-represented in segregation and maximum security, and are more likely to return to prison for parole violations based on administrative, not criminal violations.
This is a national disgrace created by stereotyping and outright racism. No one should ever call Canada the greatest country in the world while these shocking statistics, and the reasons behind them, continue to exist.
More on prison ombudsman's report can be found at: http://www.oci-bec.gc.ca/index-eng.aspx
Also, more detail on how the justice system treats Native people can be found in my new book Smoke Signals: The Native Takeback of North America's Tobacco Industry available at online booksellers such as Amazon and Chapters-Indigo, or anywhere where books are sold.