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Department
Criminology
Course
CRM3312
Professor
Kenneth Campbell
Semester
Fall

Description
Aboriginal Youth and the criminal justice system General Demographics of aboriginal youth • 2010 close to 1,000,000 aboriginal people • Teenage pregnancy very common • Overcrowding reservations • 3.3% of population (jump of 22% from 1996) • One third of aboriginal youth under 14 years old • Saskatchewan: median age of aboriginals 18. 5 years (38.8 years for non­aboriginals) • More than twice as likely to live in poverty • Almost half live in urban centers – mainly cities in the prairies Characteristics of aboriginal youth crime • 1999­ aboriginal youth accounted for nearly ¼ of youth admissions to custody (yet they represent  only 7% of population) • More pronounced in the prairies (Manitoba custody admissions 75% aboriginal, although only 16%  of population) • Greater chance of going to jail than graduating from high school • Over­representation among victims (35% f aboriginals vs. 26% non), 3xs more likely to be victims  of violent crime • Violence occurs in aboriginal communities, victims are aboriginal • High prevalence of family violence, linked to later victimization and criminal activity • Loss of aboriginal identity – negative attitudes may contribute towards increased pathology • RCAP – impact of residential school and child welfare system is significant • Kingsley & mark (2000) – found disproportionate percentages of aboriginal youth involved in the  sex trade • Barriers to exiting sex trade: no support, difficult to leave families Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) • An organic brain disorder when fetus is exposed to a certain amount of alcohol • Prevalence in aboriginal communities 25­200 per 1000 births; 1­10 per 1000 births non­aboriginal  communities • Chartrand & forbes­chilibeck (2003); found half of the cases studied had FASD (youth) • Youth were sentenced for crimes that involved compromised abilities to control behaviour due to  FASD • Not a lot of resources for kids like this • They will not learn by punishing them • Youth suffering from FASD are at risk of behaving inappropriately and increased likelihood to  commit crimes • A lot of the time judges don’t even know the kids have it • Courts are frustrated, as there are few options available, except incarceration • Youth with FASD are highly vulnerable to victimization, more likely to be in conflict with the law Causes of aboriginal youth criminal involvement • More indirect • Impact of colonization as most significant factor. Also rapid social change, family breakdown,  poverty and economic marginalization, losses, learned patterns of self­destructive behaviour,  (cultural trauma) o Intergenerational effects • Youth crime is the result of social conditions (green and healy, 2003) • Criminal justice system used too often to solve social problems – expensive default • Many charges against aboriginal youth involve lifestyle offences (breach in conditions: don’t hang  out with someone, curfew, etc) • Social problems in the home impact on a youths ability to meet parole or probation conditions o Ex: no one waking them up for school • Existing system is incapable of addressing the underlying causes of aboriginal criminality Aboriginal Justice Processes – Benefits* • Courts beginning to recognize their value o We have an aboriginal justice court in some cities with specialized personnel • Translated into reforms to make justice more meaningful, effective and relevant o Involving elders • Important in furthering aboriginal self­government • Approach differs significantly from mainstream, retributive system • No single conceptual framework is applicable to all, but some common values • 1. Holistic Understanding: all things are interconnected; criminal act is a product of actions  influenced by many factors. Healing must focus on individual, not simply the act. • 2. Inclusive decision making: all community members have right/ obligation to voice their  opinion. Impossible to know the effects of offender’s actions, ahead of time.  • 3. Violation/ Crime viewed as “sickness”: criminal is not viewed as bad and in need of  punishment, but sick and in need of healing. Inquiry focuses on how individual’s sickness can be 
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