A very informative article from February, 2016 is linked below.
In my view, a rather “circular” situation is a major factor in treatment of aboriginal prisoners – the ability of first nations and other aboriginal communities to supervise the release of prisoners and even to incarcerate them according to their own community standards under s.81 and s.84 of the Correction s and Conditional Release Act, S.C. 1992, c.20:
81 (1) The Minister, or a person authorized by the Minister, may enter into an agreement with an aboriginal community for the provision of correctional services to aboriginal offenders and for payment by the Minister, or by a person authorized by the Minister, in respect of the provision of those services.
Marginal note:Scope of agreement
(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), an agreement entered into under that subsection may provide for the provision of correctional services to a non-aboriginal offender.
Marginal note:Placement of offender
(3) In accordance with any agreement entered into under subsection (1), the Commissioner may transfer an offender to the care and custody of an aboriginal community, with the consent of the offender and of the aboriginal community.
Release to aboriginal community
84 If an inmate expresses an interest in being released into an aboriginal community, the Service shall, with the inmate’s consent, give the aboriginal community
(a) adequate notice of the inmate’s parole review or their statutory release date, as the case may be; and
(b) an opportunity to propose a plan for the inmate’s release and integration into that community.
Marginal note:Plans with respect to long-term supervision
84.1 Where an offender who is required to be supervised by a long-term supervision order has expressed an interest in being supervised in an aboriginal community, the Service shall, if the offender consents, give the aboriginal community
(a) adequate notice of the order; and
(b) an opportunity to propose a plan for the offender’s release on supervision, and integration, into the aboriginal community.
Supervision of many aboiginal prisoners, both prior to and after release, would obviously be more successful in aboriginal communities. The success of applying native spirituality and community customs to their needs is clear.
The problem is that the communities themselves often lack the inrfrastructure, skills and, most important, understanding that will permit them to ensure effective reintegration in safe circumstances.
Even when this exists, there is a tendancy of prison authorities not to believe it. Prison authroites have the effective last word in s.81 and 84 agreements.
As far as I know, these important features of the Act have been bacially ignored over the years.
At the end of the day, though, their resurrection would be a condition precedent to informed approaches to th eeds of our over-represented aboriginal prison populations.
Perhaps, as an aspect of the rights of aboriginal communities, a legislative amendment to allow the communties the presumptive authority would help.