The Correctional Investigator of Canada says the number of Indigenous people incarcerated in federal institutions has reached an all-time high.
Dr. Ivan Zinger says in a news release that Indigenous people account for approximately five per cent of Canada’s population, but the proportion of Indigenous people behind bars has increased to over 30 per cent.
“Four years ago, my Office reported that persons of Indigenous ancestry had reached 25 per cent of the total inmate population,” Zinger said in the release. “At that time, my Office indicated that efforts to curb over-representation were not working. On this trajectory, the pace is now set for Indigenous people to comprise 33 per cent of the total federal inmate population in the next three years. The Indigenization of Canada’s prison population is nothing short of a national travesty.”
Since April 2010, the amount of non-Indigenous prisoners in the country has decreased by 13.7, but the number of Indigenous inmates has gone up by more than 43 per cent.
“In failing to close the outcomes gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous offenders, the federal correctional system makes its own unique and measurable contribution to the problem of over-representation,” Zinger added. “It is not acceptable that Indigenous people in this country experience incarceration rates that are six to seven times higher than the national average. Bold and urgent action is required to address one of Canada’s most persistent and pressing human rights issues.”
Indigenous females currently account for nearly 42 per cent of women under federal sentence.
(PHOTO: Canada’s Correctional Investigator Dr. Ivan Zinger. Photo by Fraser Needham.)