A One-Day Snapshot of Aboriginal Youth in Custody Across Canada

Chapter 1 - Introduction

1.1 Introduction

Various Canadian studies indicate that Aboriginal youth are over-represented at every stage of the criminal justice process. In many jurisdictions, the proportion of Aboriginal youth in custody far outstrips their representation within the overall population. As a result, critics charge that the criminal justice system fails to meet the needs of these youth. [1]

The over-representation of Aboriginal youth within the criminal justice system poses important challenges for the Youth Justice Renewal Strategy. The Youth Justice Policy Team (YJPT) at the Department of Justice Canada recognises that strategically targeted, community-based programs are needed to reduce Aboriginal youths' involvement in the system. To help facilitate this goal, the YJPT requested that the Research and Statistics Division collect information to help direct financial and other resources to reduce the number of Aboriginal youth in custody and to support their reintegration into the community. Specifically, the YJPT had an interest in determining the following:

  • where Aboriginal youth lived prior to being charged or committing their offence;
  • where they committed or allegedly committed their offence;
  • where they plan to relocate upon release from custody.

[1] For a more detailed examination of these issues, see Fisher and Janetti (1991) "Aboriginal Youth in the Criminal Justice System" In: Issues and Perspectives on Young Offenders in Canada . (ed.) John Winterdyk. Harcourt Brace Canada. Hamilton and Sinclair (1991) Report of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry of Manitoba, Volume 1: The Justice System and Aboriginal People.

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