GIESBRECHT: Indigenous over-representation in jails not establishment’s fault

Just lately a senior citizen was struck within the head with a liquor bottle attempting to stop a liquor theft.  Winnipeg liquor retailer thefts have soared, the thieves disproportionately indigenous.  Winnipeggers are understandably upset about this lawlessness and demand stern motion from the courts to  give offenders the message that the brazen thefts won’t be tolerated.

On the similar time, a federal correctional official is publicly confessing that correctional officers share the blame for the truth that so many indigenous offenders are in federal and provincial jails.


 In a Jan. 29 Winnipeg Free Press editorial entitled “Corrections Should Handle Indigenous Over Illustration” Canada’s Correctional Investigator, Ivan Zinger mentioned that “The Indigenization of Canada’s correctional service is a nationwide tragedy”. He appears to really feel that correctional officers are someway at fault for this phenomenon.

For many years now, indigenous individuals have been grossly over represented in jails and penitentiaries. An indigenous man from the prairies could also be 32 instances as prone to commit against the law as is a non-indigenous man. Numerous authorities applications and judicial initiatives- often called the particular Gladue procedure- have been tried in an effort to scale back the numbers. Despite these makes an attempt, numbers have been rising as a substitute of falling.

If it was a easy matter of not locking indigenous individuals up once they commit crimes this ‘drawback’ might be solved instantly. The jails might be emptied, and all individuals convicted of committing crimes may serve their sentences locally.


 Drawback solved? No.

As Winnipeg liquor retailer theft issues illustrate, the difficulty isn’t simply solved in any respect. In truth, the variety of thefts, assaults, murders and different crimes dedicated by indigenous offenders exhibits no signal of letting up. With the indigenous delivery fee highest within the nation, the indigenous inhabitants youthful and having many issues ensuing from the dysfunctional reserve system, this drawback will seemingly solely worsen within the years forward.

 Neither indigenous or non-indigenous individuals will stand for severe prison behaviour to be ignored. Sadly, jails and prisons shall be with us for the foreseeable future as severe crimes require incarceration.


The very fact is that there are not any straightforward solutions right here. And, mea culpas from correctional officers and different representatives of the prison justice system will not be solely of little use, however fairly counterproductive.

It isn’t the fault of a correctional official that an individual chooses to commit against the law. It’s the fault of the offender, no matter his or her ethnic or racial background. Offering offenders with the excuse that the “system” is someway at fault for the truth that they select to commit crimes is a pointless train in self-flagellation. The truth that the vast majority of individuals – indigenous or non-indigenous- wouldn’t even contemplate robbing liquor shops, or committing different such crimes – is proof that individuals are able to exercising self-control.

In truth, telling indigenous those that it isn’t their fault in the event that they commit crimes is a totally disrespectful method to deal with individuals. It’s a sort of racism – the delicate racism of low expectations.


Persons are answerable for their behaviour. Excusing unhealthy conduct as a result of an offender occurs to be indigenous can be a monumentally silly coverage. 

Brian Giesbrecht, a retired decide, is a senior fellow with Frontier Centre for Public Coverage.