Aboriginal people constitute of about 12% of the Canadian population yet they account for over one-half of all the people incarcerated on any given day. The facts are really shocking and the big concern in the society is why the justice system is so blind and selective to a certain ethic community that and their highest number of people held in the courts. However, critics argued that aboriginal people committed a higher number of crimes, or they were victims of a discriminating justice system. To many both answers were correct. In actual sense there was nothing about Aboriginal people that predisposed them to criminal behavior. However, it was believed that their criminal behavior was rooted in their long history of discrimination and social inequality.
The beginning of human history has been dominated by prejudice; racism and discrimination that has develop due to close association of separate groups of people due to differences in cultures, religions or skin colors. Canada has not been spared because of its long and tragic history of discrimination and racism. The discrimination against Aboriginal people by the Canadian government represents a monumental symbol of intolerance. The policies where aimed at reducing the differences that existed between Aboriginal life and the mainstream of Canadian society, however some hoped that the Aboriginal society will disappear.
Through racism existed throughout the Canadian society, it was found out that overt racism as well existed in the administration of the justice system. However, the Aboriginal people had a more serious problem that existed such as cultural oppression, social inequality, the loss of self-government and systemic discrimination where the ways in which the Canadian government treated Aboriginal people. These factors were intertwined and interdependent factors. It was very difficult to differentiate between them, and this lead to Aboriginal person committing crime. In my opinion, these factors are crucial in explaining the fact that Aboriginal people were over-represented in the criminal justice system in Canadian.
Other factors that contributed to Aboriginal over-representation in the judical system for the as a result of certain dealings in the justice system which favored non-Aboriginal people compared to the Aboriginal people. The accused Aboriginal were more likely to be denied bail and these made their numbers to increase gradually compared to their counterparts who were usually bailed out from the jail and could answer to their charges away from the jails. The Aboriginal people usually spend more time in pre-trial detention stage than the non-Aboriginal people and these affected their numbers. Due to other social and psychological factors which affected the Aboriginal were usually charged with multiple offences than the non-Aboriginal. They were less likely to be represented legally at court proceedings; making it easy for them to be discriminated against in most of the court cases they were involved with the non-Aboriginals.
The over-representation within the criminal justice system of Aboriginal people occurred at every step of the judicial process, starting from the charging to the sentencing of the Aboriginal people.
Most of the Aboriginal people committed more violent offences, social disorder offences and fewer property offences. However, an overall rate of crime within them was high. Studies pointed a strong relationship between alcohol abuse and crime within them.
Poverty has played a major role in crime, though not all poor persons are not criminals there is a strong relationship between crime and poverty. However, the fact that Aboriginal people occupy the bottom level in on Canada’s socio-economic ladder does not fully justify the fact that they should be overrepresented in the Canadian prisons system.
The Canadian criminal justice system values often conflicts with Aboriginal values such values include high levels of incarceration, language barriers, conflicting values regarding crime and punishment.
Through persistent dialogue with the government the Aboriginal communities across Canada have explored various components of the criminal justice system through at a slow pace but the achievements so far are commendable. However, many problems have still remained between Aboriginal offenders and the judiicial system with a big concern on the disproportionate numbers of Aboriginal offenders in the Canadian justice system. The country is considered to be among the highest users of imprisonment and the Aboriginal have fallen victims of the system.
Language has been a great barrier in the justice system, trials for the accused Aboriginal individual has been unfair because they are conducted in English or French which is a barrier and if the accused cannot understand the charges the plea options as well became minimal and the judicial system became biased.
Aboriginal youth faces numerous obstacles because they live below the poverty line and must deal with violence, illness, limited access to education and fewer employment opportunities. These has made them hopeless and caused despair leading to petty offences with some going to jail. They thus face an increasing number of charges and this has been an issue of primary focus in Canadian criminal justice debates.
In conclusion, I fully believe that the crime rate among Aboriginal people is high, but I as well believe that over-policing and systemic discrimination of the people within the justice system has contributed greatly to the problem of over-representation. In my opinion it is both unfair and inaccurate to refer and stereotype all Aboriginal people as criminals by the fact of that they have a high crime rate. The Canadian prison associate alcohol abuse as the main contributing factor of the crimes committed by Aboriginal people, mainly through violation of liquor laws or committing crimes under the influence of alcohol.
Aboriginal poverty experienced and criminal behavior has created oppressive avenues through which Aboriginal people might not be able to escape from unless the government intervenes and helps them to overcome them. Such conditions include unjust judicial system, education system and economic development in the community. The Aboriginal over-representation arises because the current justice system is culturally inappropriate and discriminatory in the way it treats the Aboriginal people. The manner in which crime was conducted was very much related to economic considerations.
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