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Thread: Aboriginals 69% of Provincial Jail Inmates: StatsCan

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    Aboriginals 69% of Provincial Jail Inmates: StatsCan

    Aboriginals accounted for more than two-thirds of provincial adult inmates in Manitoba in 2007-08, according to data released yesterday by Statistics Canada.

    The report shows during the period studied -- April 1, 2007, to March 31, 2008 -- 69% of adults incarcerated in Manitoba's provincial jails were aboriginal, while aboriginal prisoners made up 49% of the inmates at Manitoba's two federal institutions.

    The percentage of aboriginals in the province's general adult population is about 12%.

    The study also shows the percentage of aboriginal inmates across Canada has been steadily climbing over the past decade.

    "It's very troubling but I don't think it's fair to expect any changes in turning those numbers around because we're not dealing with the issues that are causing them," said Grand Chief Ron Evans, of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. "Right now, just not enough is being done in the area of education for our people."

    The study does compare aboriginal and non-aboriginal offenders looking at education and other factors such as age and employment, but concluded those factors "can only partially explain the representation of aboriginal adults incarcerated in Canadian prisons ... The analysis suggests that other factors, such as income, housing and rehabilitative needs may be involved."

    Lack of education

    However, Evans said he believes lack of education is primarily what's putting aboriginal Manitobans behind bars. "As long as you keep the population uneducated, criminal activity will be the only option they see," he said.

    Evans suggested the federal government needs to do away with its cap on aboriginal post-secondary education, which limits the number of students each band can send to universities and colleges every year.

    "They should scrap the cap and allow those who want to get educated to do so," he said.

    Other findings from the StatsCan study show that overall, aboriginal people make up about 22% of the prison population in Canada while accounting for only 3% of the general population.

    Aboriginal incarceration rates varied immensely across Canada, ranging from 81% in Saskatchewan to 1% in PEI.

    The Western provinces and the territories all had very high rates compared with Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes, even considering the relatively lower aboriginal populations in the eastern provinces.

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    Lack of education... what a joke. They are given free homes, free food, free services, and free school. What more can we give them?

    They are just unable and it is their own fault.

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