An Aboriginal offender convicted of stabbing a man in the face with a pen faces the prospect of spending the rest his life behind bars.
Prosecutors are trying to get 35-year-old Anthony Joseph Slippery declared as a dangerous offender but his lawyer Kevin Hill argues a key principle in sentencing Aboriginal offenders in Saskatchewan is all too often being ignored.
It is called the Gladue principle which was established by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999.
In effect, Gladue says the courts must consider factors like racism, displacement, residential schools, upbringing and other socio-economic factors in determining a sentence for an Aboriginal offender.
Kevin Hill is a Saskatoon lawyer specializing in Aboriginal law.
He says the expense of a Gladue report, which costs about $3,000 to implement, is not covered by Legal Aid.
Hill also says he had to go to Alberta to find someone to complete a Gladue report for his client.
“I think it is an embarrassment to the province of Saskatchewan because we should be the leaders in how the justice system deals with Aboriginal people and quite frankly we are near the back of the pack,” he says.
For the most part, prosecutors say pre-sentence reports are sufficient in considering an Aboriginal offender’s upbringing and background.
Hill differs and says a pre-sentence report is not close to being adequate.
“I strongly disagree with that…I call it the less than cursory nature that is regarded by probation officers in compiling pre-sentence reports, that is the nature of my embarrassment in Saskatchewan.”
It is expected to take about three months to complete the Gladue report for Anthony Slippery.
His case will be back in court Feb. 3 when a date will be set for the dangerous offender hearing to resume.
Hill is encouraging the provincial justice department to set up a system for creating Gladue reports similar to what has been done in B.C., Alberta and Ontario.
On a per capita basis, Saskatchewan has the highest Aboriginal incarceration rate in Canada.