On March 7th Canada’s corrections investigator announced that 1/4 of people in federal prisons are status Indians; Indigenous prisoners are likely to stay in prison longer than non-natives; they are more likely also to be quickly arrested and imprisoned again after being released; and Indigenous people have an incarceration rate 10-times higher than non-natives.
And it’s getting worse. The report said there has been a nearly 40% increase in the ratio of Indigenous prisoners over the past ten years. The Conservative government, meanwhile, has cut Indigenous cultural funding in and out of prisons and alternative sentencing tools like healing lodges are not being used. The BC Civil Liberties association said the corrections system “over-polices and over-incarcerates Indigenous people. This is racist and it is unacceptable.”
The same week the Conservatives announced a new crime bill cracking down on “contraband tobacco,” with up-to 6-month sentences for minor first-time offences and a two-year minimum for repeat offenders. Someone tell the youth on the native cigarette corner to watch out; this government has a housing policy for Indigenous people and it’s called prison.