Supporting Impact of Race and Culture Assessments
Systemic racism and discrimination are a painful lived reality for too many Black and racialized Canadians. The Government of Canada understands that systemic racism can create disadvantages in education, employment, and other areas of life for Black and racialized Canadians, and is making investments to address systemic racism in the criminal justice system. Included among these investments is funding of $6.64 million over five years, followed by $1.6 million of annual ongoing funding, to support the implementation of Impact of Race and Culture Assessments (IRCAs) in all provinces and territories.
What are IRCAs?
IRCAs are pre-sentencing reports that help sentencing judges to better understand the effect of poverty, marginalization, racism, and social exclusion on the offender and their life experience. IRCAs explain the relationship between the offender’s lived experiences of racism and discrimination and how they inform the circumstances of the offender, the offence committed, and the offender’s experience with the justice system.
Similar to Gladue reports, which take into account the individual background and circumstances of an Indigenous accused, IRCAs inform sentencing judges of the disadvantages and systemic racism faced by Black and other racialized Canadians and may recommend alternatives to incarceration and/or culturally appropriate accountability measures within a sentence of incarceration. IRCAs have been used primarily for Black offenders, both adults and youth, at the sentencing stage of the criminal process.
How will the funding support the implementation and development of IRCAs?
The Government of Canada funding will support the implementation of IRCAs across Canada and is being made available in the following areas:
- provincial and territorial legal aid plan disbursement costs for IRCAs
- training for qualified individuals in the preparation of IRCAs
- continuing professional development courses on IRCAs for the legal profession, including information for the judiciary and other justice system actors.
How will IRCAs be implemented across Canada?
IRCAs will be administered by the Department of Justice Canada through contribution agreements with legal aid plans and community organizations that have experience delivering IRCAs. All jurisdictions will be eligible for funding.
Flexibility will be given to participating provinces and territories and legal aid plans to implement IRCAs as they deem appropriate in order to meet the needs of their jurisdiction and their clients.
For more information, contact the Legal Aid Directorate at the Department of Justice at IRCA-IERC@justice.gc.ca.
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