Prison watchdog decries ‘Indigenization’ of Canada’s correctional system

OTTAWA — Canada’s prison ombudsman says disturbing and entrenched imbalances mean the proportion of Indigenous people in federal custody has hit a record high of more than 30 percent.

Correctional investigator Ivan Zinger says the numbers are even more troubling for Indigenous women, who account for 42 percent of the female prison population.

In a statement today, Zinger says the correctional system seems unresponsive to the needs, histories and social realities behind high rates of Indigenous offending.

He says no government of any stripe has managed to reverse the trend of Indigenous overrepresentation in Canadian jails and prisons despite many inquiries, judicial interventions, and political promises and commitments.

The Correctional Service of Canada says decisions with respect to sentencing are beyond the prison service’s control.

The service does, however, try to influence the time Indigenous offenders spend in custody by providing culturally responsive programs and other efforts aimed at rehabilitation and successful return to society.

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