The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) recognizes that Indigenous offenders are disproportionately represented at all levels of the Canadian criminal justice system. While Indigenous people represent approximately four per cent of the Canadian adult population, almost 23 per cent of federally sentenced offenders are Indigenous.
CSC's approach to Indigenous corrections
- We are committed to:
- providing effective interventions for First Nations, Métis and Inuit offenders
- integrating Indigenous views of justice and reconciliation.
- To reduce the gap in correctional results between Indigenous and non-Indigenous offenders, we will continue to:
- improve our correctional interventions
- encourage community involvement.
- The development and implementation of new programs and approaches will contribute to safe and healthy communities.
The Aboriginal Continuum of Care
- The Aboriginal Continuum of Care ensures that culturally appropriate interventions are available for Indigenous offenders throughout their sentence.
- It was developed in consultation with Indigenous stakeholders.
- Indigenous community partners support reintegration efforts.
- It is grounded in research that shows two major factors that contribute to Indigenous offenders' success upon release:
- participation in spiritual and cultural activities and programs (preferably delivered by Indigenous people)
- the support they receive from family and communityFootnote 1.
- The Continuum of Care begins at intake by encouraging Indigenous offenders to engage in cultural and spiritual interventions as part of their correctional plan.
- This better prepares Indigenous offenders for transfer to lower security and for conditional release.
Elders and Spiritual Advisors
- First Nations, Métis and Inuit Elders and Spiritual Advisors play a critical role in integrating healing into correctional plans.
- They promote healing through counselling, ceremonies and teachings.
- Elders and Spiritual Advisors also:
- help offenders re-establish connections with families and communities
- assist CSC and communities in planning for the offender's eventual return.
- CSC's Strategic Plan for Aboriginal Corrections calls for improved collaboration and coordination to meet Indigenous offenders' needs and support their healing journeys.
- To achieve this, we are:
- promoting the integration of Indigenous corrections at all levels within CSC
- coordinating with other federal departments and agencies; provinces and territories; and Indigenous communities.
- This collaboration will ensure that we can respond to offenders' needs both in institutions and in communities.
Addressing systemic barriers
- To address systemic barriers for Indigenous offenders in corrections policies, we are committed to:
- ensuring that the unique needs of Indigenous offenders are integrated into CSC policies
- increasing the number of Indigenous staff at all levels of the organization
- improving staff training to meet the unique requirements of Indigenous offenders
- increasing awareness of Indigenous cultures throughout the organization.
- This approach will help us to support Indigenous offenders to successfully and safely reintegrate at the earliest possible time in their sentences.
The way forward
- The collective commitments of federal, provincial and territorial stakeholders and community members are essential to impact the over-representation of Indigenous people in custody.
- Expanding the role of Indigenous leaders, Elders, and communities will improve our response to Indigenous offenders' needs.
- Together, we aim to provide Indigenous offenders with:
- a strong network of support to help them to successfully transition back into the community after release
- the chance to build on the achievements and healing they received while in custody.
Updated January 2017
- Footnote 1
Heckbert, D., & Turkington, D. (2001). Turning points: A study of the factors related to the successful reintegration of Aboriginal offenders. Research Report R-112. Ottawa, ON: Correctional Service of Canada.
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