The Huffington Post is reporting that Justice Minister Peter McKay confirmed that aboriginal people are over-represented in prison in Canada. He was responding to the report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
“This is a tragedy that we have to come to grips with,”
MacKay said Ottawa invests money in what he called “an aboriginal justice strategy” that includes money for youth programs aimed at keeping kids out of trouble with the law.
The Supreme Court of Canada talks about the over-representation of aboriginal people in Canadian prisons in two cases called Gladue (1999) and Ipeelee (2012).
Section 718.2(e) recognizes that the sentencing judge should consider the circumstances of aboriginal people.
718.2 A court that imposes a sentence shall also take into consideration the following principles:
(e) all available sanctions other than imprisonment that are reasonable in the circumstances should be considered for all offenders, with particular attention to the circumstances of aboriginal offenders.
One step towards a solution could be to take the $1 billion the federal Department of Aboriginal Affairs didn’t spend and use it for community development, housing, running water, and infrastructure like medical centres and schools for aboriginal communities throughout Canada.