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Aboriginal Women in the Criminal Justice System of Canada: Insights Into Corrections

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Canada’s Criminal Justice System (CJS) is no way perfect and often argued to criminalize certain groups within society. Specifically, Aboriginal women as offenders in corrections have faced many difficulties. They often are sentenced younger, more often and for longer sentences than non-Aboriginal offenders. The over incarceration, over representation and criminalization of Aboriginal women within the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) is attributable to a legacy of colonialism and sexism which placed them at a vulnerable place within society. Canada’s public policy post WWII regarding, social welfare, education and the labour market, exhibit how colonialism and sexism have created unfavorable cultural and socio-economic conditions for Aboriginal women, which make them more susceptible to be victims/survivors of violence, poverty and behaviours or circumstances in conflict with the law. As a result of these conditions, Aboriginal women are more likely to meet deplorable conditions while in prison, and the laws do not seem to accommodate Aboriginal methods of rehabilitation, restitution and justice. In order to understand the plight of Aboriginal women within the CJS, the issue will be approached from a feminist perspective. Further, the evidence will be sourced from secondary sources, mainly text and government reports. First a landscape of Canada’s colonial past’s impact on Aboriginal women; starting post WWII will be advanced. This will demonstrate the links between Aboriginal women’s experience with poverty, violence in all forms, and the CJS. Then a critique of current programs and sanctions within the criminal justice system will provide insights into how Aboriginal women are presently treated. Lastly potential solutions will be proposed to improve the programs given by the correctional services Canada.

In order to productively examine Aboriginal female offenders’ place within the CSC and the CJS, one must first recognize how racist and sexist public policy post WWII is rooted in Canada’s colonial history. Arguably the systemic hierarchies and euro centrist assumptions of how wider society should function have continued since the first settlers arrived and is reflected in Canada’s public policy. Aboriginal peoples have experienced the most entrenched racial discrimination of any group within Canada. Discrimination against Aboriginal people has been a central policy of Canadian government. According to Quijano, the notion of separate races, in its modern meaning, does not have a known history before colonization ( Quijano 534). Modern society is often mislabelled as being in a state of post-colonialism or decolonialism, which suggests that colonialism no longer exist, when on the contrary this system of power and oppression is so pervasive and present today into he lived experiences of Aboriginal people and their descendants. The colonization of Aboriginal people continues today, not only as a consequence of the Indian Act, land thefts, residential schools, but also as a result of child welfare, social services, health, education and economic policies. The Canadian Government has historically produced policies aiming to control Aboriginal ways of life. The education system has been used as a tool for the cultural assimilation of Aboriginal Canadians and the material taught in Canadian schools focuses on the culture, history and reality of non‐Aboriginal Canadians, further committing epistemological violence against Aboriginal knowledge systems.
The major concern perceived by Canadian public policy post WWII in regards to Aboriginal people was societal integration and assimilation of Aboriginal culture in western culture. As the time, it was the policy of the government, specifically the Indian Affairs Branch of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration to help Aboriginal populations to adapt to a larger society and capitalist economic structure (Shewell 208). An overwhelming source of knowledge for this government institution was in the social sciences, whose influence peaked during the 1960s and early 1970s. Social scientists were seen as the explorers or missionaries of the mid twentieth century and interpreters of the ‘Other’ to the European(Shewell 209). The project of assimilation was particularly important to public policy decisions as integrating Aboriginals into the euro-Canadian mainstream meant that the state could work towards increased economic development. It was in the interest of the dominant class interests to expedite penetration into Aboriginal regions and territories to exploit capital with the least resistance possible. Rather than expressly ask the permission of Aboriginal nations to use their land and territory, it was thought that through societal inclusion through assimilation, the state could gain consent for using Aboriginal peoples land and resources.
The goal of post war Aboriginal policy was to transform First Nations into a new level of civil society, one from which they would see that participation in the exploitation of their lands was in their own interests (Shewell 209). One role of social science was to help lay the foundations for a civil level of Aboriginal society. This seemingly required an objective scientific understanding, the application of scientific understanding to the development of assimilation into the dominant euro-canadian society and connecting Aboriginal individuals to the labour market. The conceptualizing Aboriginals as scientific objects made it possible to justify denying their claims to cultural and sociological integrity. Almost any study could now be justified. The processes which allowed the Aboriginals to become scientific objects was the codification of the differences between settlers and indigenous people in the idea of “race,” a supposedly different biological structure that placed some in a natural situation of inferiority to the others. Studies done during that post war period demonstrated that Aboriginals were thought by sociological, psychoanalytical and anthropological investigations to be lacking core liberal values, such as possessive individualism and were indolent and shiftless(Shewell 209-211). The policy was not only specifically harmful to Aboriginals, but Aboriginal women as well. Public policy studies reflected how the government wished to govern Aboriginal women’s bodies, by administering invasive surveys on reproduction, childbearing practices and domestic labour (Shegwell 214). The study on the Iroquois of Brantford by the state had reduced Aboriginals to objects of paternalistic study. It was thought that by studying Aboriginal childrearing patterns, some insight might be gained into the likelihood that they would require social assistance as adults. This line of investigation completely negates any state responsibility in the social and economic condition of Aboriginal people. Another Act specifically detrimental to women was the Indian Act . The Act effectively made women second-class citizens within Aboriginal society, and was particularly instrumental in helping erode their agency and status as a group. The Act explicitly states that only males could be considered Indian in their own right. The only way women had access to the privilege of being called an Indian was through patriliniage or marriage. If a woman with Indian status through birth married a non-Aboriginal person, she was enfranchised into mainstream Canadian society and automatically lost her land rights and cultural rights. Amendments made in 1951 continued to inhibit Aboriginal women’s political agency, until Bill-31in 1985 reinstated women and children’s’ status and gave them right to land(Canadian .ca “Aboriginal Women’s Issues” 5).
The shockingly high number of Aboriginal people in prison is attributable in large part to the profound socio-economic problems in Aboriginal communities, problems deeply embedded in historic injustices which continue to and gave those rights to this day. It is not surprising that a government policy which, until recently, sought to assimilate Aboriginal peoples by eradicating their culture, languages, lifestyles and spirituality, resulted in a loss of self-esteem and self-sufficiency. This policy has created a cycle of dependence, poverty and despair which all too often leads to conflict with the law. While the problem may originate in these historic and socio-economic circumstances, it is perpetuated and exacerbated by the CJS. Overrepresentation would not occur if Aboriginal people were not arrested in disproportionate numbers, charged in disproportionate numbers, sentenced to prison in disproportionate numbers, and released into the community without having their problems "corrected" by the correctional system. MODERN ISSUES: CRIMINALIZATION OF ABORIGINAL WOMEN Problems with Aboriginal women’s justice in the CSC demonstrably originate from historical socio-economic circumstances. The rates for Aboriginal offends and peoples incarcerate surpasses that of any other marginalized group within Canada. The impact of discriminatory practices is felt even more by Aboriginal women, who are more over‐represented than Aboriginal men in the CJS. There are a higher proportion of Aboriginal women serving federal sentences in prison, as opposed to being released on bail or under supervision in the community, than there is for Non‐Aboriginal women. Aboriginal women are over‐represented in the federal correctional system, representing only 2% of women in Canada and 29% of women in federal prisons in July, 2003. In July, 2003, 60% of Aboriginal women serving federal sentences were in prison(CHRC 2003 6).
Aboriginal women are over‐represented in the maximum security prison population as well, making up 46% of maximum security federally sentenced women, 35% of the medium security population and 23% of minimum security women in 2003. Unnecessarily high security classifications, particularly for Aboriginal women results in ineligibility for programming intended to prepare the women for eventual release. Aboriginal women classified at maximum security are also denied access to the support of cultural or spiritual treatment programs.
A report administered by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples noted the discrimination against Aboriginal people in the justice system through its procedures but also because the Criminal Code targets the poor through the prohibition of acts like vagrancy, public intoxication and stealing. This commission also made the linkages between colonialism and current levels of over representation within the CJS. For instance, when looking at the case of spousal abuse as a factor for incarceration, it was noted that both spousal assault rates and spousal homicide rates are higher for Aboriginal women than for non‐Aboriginal women, with spousal homicide rates of Aboriginal women eight times higher than those of non‐Aboriginal women. The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1996) linked the high rate of violence in Aboriginal communities to systemic discrimination, economic and social deprivation, substance abuse, and a cycle of violence across generations. Aboriginal women may be charged when they are reacting to abuse or when they are reacting to the poor social conditions in which the double discrimination against them has left them(Arbour 219). In the 1990s, the Canadian government did try to offer Aboriginal specific programming. When early Aboriginal programming was offered it was conducted by elders of completely differing cultural backgrounds of inmates. One critique of the special treatment approach would be the tendency to essentialize Aboriginal culture, when there is a multitude of difference amongst the Aboriginal Diaspora. Despite this critique, these institutions do offer contact with uniquely Aboriginal staff and communities. A federal prison, Okimaw Ohici Healing Lodge, was opened in 1995 as a small community based option for minimum to medium security classified women. Its unconventional design had no fences, supplied recreation room and provided childcare for up to ten children. This lodge was copied and other institutions like it were made. Thus far, there has been positive feedback for the healing lodge and ones like it, with few incidents or complaints. The CJS must still try to accommodate issues with the dispersion of inmates from their communities and families (Arbour 223-226) With regards to sentencing, there have been some reforms which take into account the unique circumstances of Aboriginal offenders. Sub-section 718.2 (e) of the Criminal Code dictates that “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” (Carswell 608). In 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. Gladue provided an interpretation of subsection 718.2 (e) of the Criminal Code. This landmark decision provided a framework for personal background and social and economic conditions to be considered by sentencing judges when deliberating on offences committed by Aboriginal people. In Gladue, the Supreme Court also emphasized the far-reaching consequences of keeping Aboriginal offenders in a justice system that was failing to serve and to rehabilitate them.
The over-representation of Aboriginal persons in the corrections system is worsening over time, increasing by 2% between 2004-05 and 2008-09 . The rate at which the over-representation of Aboriginal persons in the correctional system over time is partly accounted for by the growing Canadian Aboriginal population: the general Aboriginal population in Canada has increased by 20.1% between 2001 and 2006, while the federally incarcerated Aboriginal population rose by 19.7%. However, the population of federally incarcerated Aboriginal women increased by 131% over the same period of time. If this trend continues, programs and sanctions for offenders must be ready to support the inmates. The Okimaw Ohici Healing Lodge along with seven others across Ontario show promise as an alternative to traditional methods of incarceration and sentencing. As the current system in place at the lodges is limited, one point for change in the future is expanding services. This opinion is also shared by the Aboriginal Justice Strategy 2011 report. They suggest that government policy increase community justice workers’ access to information, networking opportunities and training on established and emerging issues identified as significant to community-based justice programs. It must be stressed that if programs continued to be offered, they must be culturally appropriate. Another issue of contention with some programs is that the prison bureaucracy seems to have a difficult time tracking inmate participation, due to the nature in which traditions are passed through oral histories. Despite the difficulties in documenting healing practices, their usefulness is undoubtedly acknowledged and continues. The main issues with continuing such practices is being able to build and maintain lodges away from a penitentiary environment that works counter to the rehabilitative process.
There are significant challenges in bridging the gap between traditional correctional approaches, and Aboriginal methods of justice and reconciliation. The ongoing support and involvement of elders, Aboriginal liaison officers, community representatives and Aboriginal organizations is viewed as key to closing the outcome gaps for First Nations, Métis and Inuit offenders. Advocates for Aboriginal inmates have long stressed that Aboriginal people and Aboriginal organizations must be directly involved in developing and providing appropriate programs, and actively involved in the evaluation of current assessment tools used by CSC.
In his 2005-2006 Annual Report, the Correctional Investigator recommended that, in the next year, the Correctional Service of Canada, implement a security classification process that ends the over classification of Aboriginal offenders; increase timely access to programs and services that will significantly reduce time spent in medium- and maximum-security institutions and significantly increase the number of Aboriginal offenders housed at minimum-security institutions. It was also recommended that there should be an increased the use of unescorted temporary absences and work releases and have more offenders appearing before the National Parole Board at their earliest eligibility dates. It would also be recommended to increase the overall rate of its Aboriginal workforce at all levels in institutions where a majority of offenders are of Aboriginal ancestry. These recommendations definitely have to potential to remedy the current situation for Aboriginal women in corrections.
Clearly Aboriginal women have been disadvantaged by Canada’s CJS and continue to be victims of crime and the penal system at alarming rates. This is no doubt linked to a colonial past which brought dominant patriarchal ideas of settlers into traditional Aboriginal culture. Racism and this sexist paternalism advanced decades of public policy regimes, like residential schools, and investigations by sociologist and anthropologists for the interests of Canada’s labour market and efforts for assimilation. These factors have created socio-economic circumstances which place Aboriginal women at higher risk of conflict with the CJS. Thus, the CSC, CJS and its branches and departments is charged with the responsibility of correcting the situation for aboriginal inmates and offenders. Important recommendations have been made that are counter to traditional methods of punishment and could be conducive to better rehabilitative treatments for these groups. Certainly there will be obstacles ahead for carrying out such transformative reforms to corrections, but the understanding that the system must acknowledge the difference of inmates is a beginning. Continued collaboration between the CJS, Aboriginal communities, victims and offenders must happen to foster strength in the proposed solutions. BIBLIOGRAPHY
"Aboriginal Women's Issues." Home | Canadiana. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Oct. 2012. .
Arbour, Louise. Commission of Inquiry into Certain Events at the Prison for Women in Kingston. [Ottawa, Ont.]: Public Works and Government Services Canada, 1996. Print.
"Common Menu Bar Links." Backgrounder: Aboriginal Inmates. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2012. .
Canadian Human Rights Commission. Protecting Their Rights: A Systematic Review of Human Rights in Correctional Services for Federally Sentenced Women. Ottawa: CHRC, 2003.
Harris, Michael. Con Game: The Truth about Canada's Prisons. Toronto: M & S, 2002. Print.

Indian Act, RSC 1985, c I-5, retrieved on 2012-10-23
R. v. Gladue, 1999 CanLII 679 (SCC), [1999] 1 SCR 688, retrieved on 2012-10-23
Shewell, Hugh. "Enough to Keep Them Alive": Indian Welfare in Canada, 1873-1965. Toronto: University of Toronto, 2004. Print.
Quijano, A. "Coloniality of Power and Eurocentrism in Latin America." International Sociology 15.2 (2000): 215-32. Web.

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...COLLAPSE HOW S O C I E T I E S CHOOSE TO FAIL OR S U C C E E D JARED DIAMOND VIK ING VIKING Published by the Penguin Group Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A. Penguin Group (Canada), 10 Alcorn Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4V 3B2 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd) Penguin Books Australia Ltd, 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd) Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India Penguin Group (NZ), Cnr Airborne and Rosedale Roads, Albany, Auckland 1310, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd) Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England First published in 2005 by Viking Penguin, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. 13579 10 8642 Copyright © Jared Diamond, 2005 All rights reserved Maps by Jeffrey L. Ward LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING IN PUBLICATION DATA Diamond, Jared M. Collapse: how societies choose to fail or succeed/Jared Diamond. p. cm. Includes index. ISBN 0-670-03337-5 1. Social history—Case studies. 2. Social change—Case studies. 3. Environmental policy— Case studies. I. Title. HN13. D5 2005......

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Gre Vocabulary 3000

...Made By Jason & Franklin. This Document Is Strictly Prohibited For Commercial Purposes Without Authorization. List 1 GRE Verbal 750 Quantitative 800, AW 5.5 2008 10 Princeton, MIT, M. Fin Unit 1 ABANDON A B D I C AT E ABASE ABERRANT ABASH ABET A B AT E A B E YA N C E A B B R E V I AT E ABHOR abandon [ 1 n. ] carefree, freedom from constraint added spices to the stew with complete abandon unconstraint, uninhibitedness, unrestraint 2 v. to give (oneself) over unrestrainedly abandon herself to a life of complete idleness abandon oneself to emotion indulge, surrender, give up 3 v. to withdraw from often in the face of danger or encroachment abandon the ship/homes salvage 4 v. to put an end to (something planned or previously agreed to) NASA the bad weather forced NASA to abandon the launch abort, drop, repeal, rescind, revoke, call off keep, continue, maintain, carry on abase [ 1 v. ] to lower in rank, office, prestige, or esteem was unwilling to abase himself by pleading guilty to a crime that he did not commit debauch, degrade, profane, vitiate, discredit, foul, smirch, take down elevate, ennoble, uplift, aggrandize, canonize, deify, exalt abash [ 1 vt. ] to destroy the self-possession or self-confidence of ,disconcert, embarrass Nothing could abash him. discomfit, disconcert, discountenance, faze, fluster, nonplus, mortify embolden abate [ 1 v. ] to reduce in degree or intensity / abate his rage/pain taper off intensify 2......

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