January 22, 2020 / 12:03 AM / 2 months ago

Indigenous people make up 30% of Canadian inmate population: report

TORONTO (Reuters) - The proportion of indigenous people in Canada’s total inmate population has risen by five percentage points over the past four years to 30%, despite an overall drop in inmate population, a government report released on Tuesday showed.

The number of federally sentenced indigenous people has steadily increased for decades despite only accounting for 5% of the general population in Canada, the report bit.ly/36gl4Zg by Canada's correctional investigator found.

The head of Canada’s human rights commission denounced the findings of the report, referring to it as a “national disgrace.”

“We strongly agree with the Correctional Investigator that bold and urgent action is required to address this persistent and pressing human rights issue,” said Canadian human rights chief commissioner Marie-Claude Landry.

The report also notes a rise of female indigenous inmates, who now accounts for almost half of the female inmate population in Canada.

Compared to non-indigenous inmates, indigenous offenders stay longer behind bars during their sentences before being granted parole, the office of correctional investigator said.

“(Four years ago), my office indicated that efforts to curb over-representation were not working,” Canada correctional investigator Ivan Zinger said.

Zinger called for the Correctional Service of Canada to “accept its share of responsibility, recognizing that tweaks around the edges of the system simply won’t cut it.”

He also called for reducing re-admissions and returns to custody of indigenous offenders.

Reporting by Denise Paglinawan; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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