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Nov 28.docx

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Kenneth Campbell

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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 non-aboriginals)
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
Over-representation 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 25-200 per 1000 births; 1-10 per 1000 births non-aboriginal
Chartrand & forbes-chilibeck (2003); found half of the cases studied had FASD (youth)
Youth were sentenced for crimes that involved compromised abilities to control behaviour due to
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 self-destructive behaviour,
(cultural trauma)
oIntergenerational 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

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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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