Trouble in the big house

How mandatory minimum sentencing could make it worse for women in prison

JOSE CABEZAS/AFP/Getty Images

If the views of Julian Fantino, the former chief of the Toronto and Ontario police forces and now a Conservative MP, are anything to go by, the Conservative government is hell bent on sending more people to prison. “In some cases, the Charter has been exploited and the rulings that have followed have, in fact, benefited some criminals, absolutely,” said Fantino, in a TV interview last November. His attitude echoes the Conservative government’s anti-crime philosophy, which has resulted in legislation like last February’s Truth in Sentencing Act, which removed the two-for-one credit that prisoners received for time served prior to their conviction.

Now the Tories are proposing the establishment of mandatory minimum sentences for a flurry of offences. For example, Bill S-10, which was on the agenda in the House of Commons and Senate in December, would impose mandatory minimum sentencing for growing marijuana (currently, the law sets only maximum penalties). It’s an expensive venture. This week the Harper government announced that it intends to invest $2 billion over five years to absorb the influx of inmates.

This stance has confounded criminologists and opposition politicians alike, who say the hardline agenda will drive more people into prison for longer, and flies in the face of StatCan reports that show police-reported crime rates have been falling. And, critics say, mandatory minimum sentencing would worsen an already increasing problem in Canada’s justice system: the boom in women in federal prisons.

According to the annual report of the Office of the Correctional Investigator, two thirds of the 500 federally sentenced women offenders suffer from substance abuse. Thirty per cent have serious mental health concerns, compared to 14.5 per cent of male offenders. Twenty-five per cent engage in self-harming behaviour, which is also significantly higher than men. The mandatory-minimum legislation, experts say, will only make things worse.

Asked if women’s prisons have the capacity to deal with a further influx of prisoners, correctional investigator Howard Sapers, author of the report, says bluntly: “No.” Sapers says that some women are already being housed long-term in segregation cells, which are meant for short-term confinement of high-risk prisoners. And, he says, because of severe space shortages, prisons are having to double-bunk women in segregation cells.

Predictably, such population pressures exacerbate tensions in prisons. “There are women who have become quite violent in prison, but most of those women weren’t violent in their community,” says Kim Pate, executive director of the Elizabeth Fry Societies of Canada, a women’s justice advocacy group. “Particularly Aboriginal women, who are resistant to authority, but aren’t necessarily violent until put in positions where they are treated in dehumanizing ways.”

For decades Aboriginals have been disproportionately represented in prisons. The female Aboriginal offender population has increased by almost 90 per cent since 2000, and represents the fastest-growing offender group under federal jurisdiction. One in three federally sentenced women is Aboriginal, despite representing only three per cent of the female population in Canada.

Michelle Mann, an Ottawa-based legal consultant who specializes in Aboriginal justice, says that once inside prisons, Aboriginal female offenders face discrimination in the form of routine over-classification in what is known as the Custody Rating Scale, under which they are incarcerated in a facility with a “higher security level than required.” (According to Public Safety Canada, as of April 12, 2009, 73 per cent of female Aboriginal prisoners were serving time for a violent offence, compared to 45.8 per cent of non-Aboriginal female prisoners.) They are also placed in segregation more often than non-Aboriginal offenders. Mann says the systemic over-classification of the offenders serves to aggravate underlying conditions, such as addiction and mental illness, and does little to rehabilitate the women.

But problems exist for all such female prisoners. According to Jula Hughes, a lawyer and law professor at the University of New Brunswick, “when you have a high-needs prisoner, either you meet their needs in prison—and that’s an expensive thing to be doing—or you don’t meet their needs and then you see horrific effects from unmet needs: prison violence, suicide, further criminal offences, and unsafe environments for people who work in prisons.”

Jason Godin, Ontario regional president of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, told Maclean’s he’s seeing those conditions now, but Corrections Canada isn’t taking the problem of women offenders seriously and it’s compromising the safety of his staff. “I can tell you the most number of hostage takings of staff members have been by female offenders across the country,” says Godin.

Indeed, the numbers point to a rapidly deteriorating situation. In November, Quebecor Media, Inc. Agency published the results of an internal Corrections Canada report that showed a 140 per cent year-over-year increase in the number of times staff used force—including removal of clothing, pepper spraying, and chemical injections against federally imprisoned women: 311 incidents in 2009 compared to 130 incidents in 2008 and 128 incidents in 2007. Sapers says use-of-force incidents are due to a handful of particularly high-needs offenders who have “serious mental health issues.” But, he says, the use of force is yet another symptom of the underlying problem: the needs of two at-risk groups—women with mental illnesses, and those who are violent—are not being met by the justice system. “Correctional officers are not specifically trained to be psychiatric workers or social workers, and they don’t always have the adequate clinical or professional backup on site.”

The tragedy, according Shoshana Pollack, associate professor in the faculty of social work at Wilfrid Laurier University, is that many female offenders want to get into federal facilities in the belief that they will get help. “Women request a federal sentence over [a] provincial [one], with the hope they’ll get access to treatment, either because waiting lists are long or they don’t have access to it in their communities,” says Pollack. But she says, inside, women have little to no access to rehabilitative services. “The main function of the prison is to maintain the security,” says Pollack. “They’re not treatment centres, and although there’s been a lot of rhetoric about prisons for women being therapeutic and treatment-oriented, the fact is the main purpose of the prison is to punish and control.”

If there’s an exception to that rule it may be the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge in Maple Creek, Sask. Opened in 1995, it is located in the Necaneet First Nation, a small community of 150 located 150 km west of Medicine Hat, Alta. The Healing Lodge was born out of the 1992 Corrections and Conditional Release Act, federal legislation that called for culturally relevant strategies for Aboriginal offenders. The healing lodge is successful, if lower rates of recidivism among former inmates and safer work environments for staff are any indication. And yet, a 2008 Healing Lodge audit found that Corrections Canada does not have any policy framework in place to support the construction of similar lodges. Okimaw Ohci, which can serve approximately 40 inmates, remains the only one of its kind.

Meanwhile, other prisons struggle with high rates of recidivism and an increasingly problematic offender profile. In an effort to protect themselves, female inmates turn to gangs, a trend well documented by Corrections Canada. “Some of the anecdotal stories that we hear, particularly from younger women, particularly in the western provinces, if you didn’t go into a prison with some affiliation with a gang, you’ll certainly leave with an affiliation with a gang,” says Kate Rexe, director of the Sisters in Spirit of the Native Women’s Association of Canada. “It’s simply a protection factor when you’re inside, and a protection factor when you’re outside.”

Given the increasing problems for Canada’s female inmates, what will mandatory minimum sentences accomplish? Nothing positive, says Joseph Di Luca, vice-president of Canada’s Criminal Lawyers’ Association. “Mandatory minimum sentences failed in the States, and, ironically, they are recognizing that,” says Di Luca. “The only thing it meant is crowded prisons, housing a disproportional amount of groups, namely black and Aboriginal communities.” Yet, says Di Luca, Canada is following a similar course by “marching straight into mandatory minimum sentences.” Something, he says, that will result in a prison system that “simply warehouses people.”




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Trouble in the big house

  1. It seems to me that we've become somewhat addicted to the quick-fix jail represents. It's the easiest and least thoughtful response to the problem.

    The "criminals" get out sooner or later, usually more incapable of integrating than before they went in. What a self-perpetuating mess to be involved with.

    The only point of jail should be to segregate dangerous individuals from society. As far as petty criminals however, our focus should be and should always have been rehabilitation first and foremost, not this prescriptive jail term nonsense.

    I did my thesis on work motivation and autonomy. If people develop the job skills and social contacts to make good honestly, they almost always will.

    Instead we still insist on demonizing and black listing people to ensure that once a criminal, always a criminal.

    • Please,this country is paradise for criminal,they know they will never serve time.They even will commit crime while being 'rehabilitated',whatever that means.Somestime even racking up a page full of convictions,but still,we should 'rehabilitate' and 'give them a chance'.How about you tell you buddies to stop commiting crime?You don`t even care about the consequences of their actions or their victims,Apparently,we just need to understand and sympathize with criminals,whatever they do.

      This justice system needs an overhaul,it is one big joke as it is.

      • Actually, Canada is one of the countries most likely to imprison criminals.

      • ACTUALLY prison is not rehabilitation – it is crime school and it is punishment and it is set up to ensure the revolving door effect – Prison is an industry in itself – as such it requires a constant flow of raw material – the material in this case is people – YES PEOPLE – not others – your sister, brother, mother, and daughter – there is no they – only you and me

    • In closing the six Prison Farms ,Stephen Harper put an end to a very effective rehabilitation program .
      The farm program helped turn Offenders into responsible citizens with learned work habits & social skills.

  2. The mandatory-minimum policy is just one more example of the Harper government ignoring evidence and rationality, to go along with the long-form census changes, the extension of the Afghanistan mission, and their lack of a climate-change policy. We have no logical reason to expect anything else from them.

    • And thank God for that.

  3. Social engineers keep trying to tell us we should pay them more money so they can re-habilitate criminals who have never been 'habilitated' in the first place – and it never works.

    We don't need to 're-habilitate' criminals, harsh punishment stops crime.

    • Harsh punishment stops crime? Then why, in states where a man can lose a hand from theft or his head from murder, are the rates for those crimes still higher than ours per capita? Whole swathes of countries across Africa and the Middle East have harsh laws and harsh punishments, but it doesn't make a difference does it?

      The only significant drop in recidivism this country has ever seen came after a program aimed at increasing respect between inmates and guards. Recidivism went from 40% to 15% in less than a decade.

      Treating each other cruelly will never make for kinder people.

      Crime will end when we stop pushing people outside the purview of society, and ensure that every person has the opportunity to be their best, and not one minute before.

      • Philanthropist is a troll, I doubt you'll see any response from him.

        That said, the bit about increasing respect between inmates and guards is interesting. I would have thought such a thing might only have some modest benefits since it really doesn't seem to be about integration. A difference that significant I would have thought could only come from giving inmates significant education and skills training. Any thoughts on what might have been happening in that program that made such a difference?

        • I have been praised for being able to sum up and provide solutions for a range of issues on these comment boards – and that's by my detractors!

          Your troll comments aren't worth the electrons they're printed on….

      • Who said anything about 'treating each other cruelly'? Besides you?

        • YOU did: "harsh punishment."

          • Different words actually have different meanings. Cruelty and punishment are two very different things. No sane person advocates cruelty – though liberals seem to have greater penchant for it in media!

          • I wish criminals would just hold hands and try to create world peace.

          • harsh punishment is cruelty

    • and it never works

      Okay, but…

      The healing lodge is successful, if lower rates of recidivism among former inmates and safer work environments for staff are any indication.

      Seems to indicate that what you said isn't true.

    • if you feel that me a criminal eating a cannabis cookie. after bill s10 is passed if I live near a school witch everyone in a city does.than I could do 14 years in jail for a pot cookie. If you feel that anyone should go to jail for eating or making cannabis cookies. You ideology is evil, I hope you don't breed.

    • If harsh punishment stops crime, how come drawing and quartering didn't prevent attempts at regicide in Old France before the French Revolution?

  4. Congrats on another balanced article on crime and punishment!

  5. It should be obvious to everyone now that what Stephen Harper has planned is a U.S.-style, for-profit prison system. This policy has been wildly successful in the U.S.: increased crime and violence, the largest prison population in the history of mankind, huge debt, and a handful of wealthy jailers getting even wealthier on the taxpayers' dime. This is what Harper wants for Canada.

    He has already changed the laws to make anything involving marijuana a "serious" crime, making it harder for your kid to make bail or get plea bargains. He is about to pass S-10, which will impose mandatory jail time for growing one pot plant in a rented unit, and six months jail for making pot brownies! That is aimed at your kid, obviously, and not the Hell's Angels.

    All evidence shows that this policy will increase crime, further subsidize the 98% of gangsters who will never be caught, further contaminate the products being sold to your kids, and sink us into decades of debt, to be paid off by — you guessed it — your kids!

    It will also saddle tens of thousands of Canadians — mostly men, mostly between the ages of 18 and 40, our future work force — with criminal records that will hinder their ability to travel and find employment and secure housing. He will also use this inevitable increase in crime as justification for future erosions of civil rights and liberties, and future expansions of police powers and budgets. All this at a time when crime is at a 33-year low. Harper isn't trying to protect Canadians, he is trying to hobble us. He is trying to get Canada into the U.S.-dominated Inmate-Manufacturing Industry, using your kids as raw materials. Serves you right for electing him.

    • Shouldn't you be posting over at "cannabisculture"???

    • Stephen Harper also has plans for putting an end to the "socialistic nanny state." As Canada were Sweden!

  6. @ Russell Barth…Inmate Manufacuring Industries…Get with the program Dude…Inmate Manufacturing has been around for at least 25 years,,called Cor-Can.(.Corrections Canada ) producing office furniture, furniture etc,etc,..helps teach the Convicts a trade ,gives them work experiance and in certain cases has led to the criminal obtaining a TQ.( Tradesmens Qualifactions.)

    • Prison industry has been around longer than prisons. Prisoners built Kingston Pen and P4W. There's always been prison industry. I believe what Barth was referring to was the domination of private-prison companies in the US such as Corrections Corporation of America and Wackenhut and the need to ensure a continuing supply of "guests" for their institutions.

      • as a former inmate who has worked in a corcan program and not have recieved any qualifications making mens under wear for all male prisoners across canada I didnt find it helpful at all upon release!! I myself was one of the women who started off with a low sentence and due to my choices to retaliate against prison authorities and their harsh and inhumane treatment, that we all think never happens in Canada; ended up trippling my sentence!! I think that the Correctional system at most does more harm then good …Our government acts as though Canada is about rehabilitation but spend a day in a Mens prison full of sex offenders on a federaly sentenced Womens unti!! Yes it should be about rehabilition…If a person grows up in a prison and learns no other way, once released is not very productive member of society> I myself and am lucky and beat those odds…I am now a Human Rights Activist for Women in Prison

  7. I am sorry. Isn't this the same Julian Fantino who was himself charge with a criminal offense last year, which was stayed by a corrupt and morally bankrupt Crown?

  8. Mandatory minimum sentencing hasn't worked in the US, so what makes people think that it will work in Canada? The problem with the criminal justice system is the criminals themselves. Our jails and prisons are full of people who thought that they were smart enough to commit the perfect crime. As long as people have that kind of mindset, you can chop off people's hands like they do in Saudi Arabia, or draw and quarter people like they did in the Middle Ages, but nothing will work completely. I know that people are frustrated, but we have to trust the judges and the legal profession. If even the experts make mistakes, how can we expect anybody else to do better?

  9. So! I have a niece that has been in trouble with the law, she's old enough to know better. These girls are not 4 years old unable to tell the difference between right and wrong.

    With the crimes that are being repeated by the same person I wonder if they thrive on being in trouble.

    • WE dont thrive on being in trouble when a women starts off with a low sentence and increases it as times goes on its because of the conditions and treatment…A feeling of noone is listening and all other proper avenues have been taken. Everyone one has a fight or flight instinct and everyone can only take so much!!

  10. It is disturbing that 30% of women in correctional facilities are mentally ill. If this statistic actually represents people who are clinically diagnosed, and not just of poor character, that is shameful. Particularly when you consider that many mentally ill people are made so by alcoholic parents causing them to be born with fetal alcohol syndrome. There has to be a better way than tossing them in jail?

  11. The challenge as presented is a much larger systemic issue than presented; the current lock’em up attitude coming nowhere near to any short or long term solution.
    Bear with me as I attempt to expand on this.

    Racism is alive and well— Need for critical cultural renewal in Canada

    Equality means equal rights for all individuals in society

    Introduction

    Theorizing, regarding issues, is merely pseudointellectualizing that has nothing to do with the reality within society.
    There appears to be this pattern of analysis wherein a symptom(s) is scrutinized without truly examining what cause(s) is really behind it and subsequently stating the truth that has led to and maintained the symptom over time until the present day.
    Some examples would be the link that poverty pushes people to antisocial behaviors such as violence, as well as generalizations about colonialism, the influence of pop culture, and western decadence eroding peoples’ culture both “at home” and in other world culture with resultant problems and frustrations seen as critical at the moment.
    Antiracist claims profile phobias with the intent to impact on the attitudes of the general public.These claims catch attention and attempt to direct actions towards their intended goals, regardless of the victimization of those around who are not the “us”, but the “them” group.

    Perceived Realities of Institutionalized Racism

    How long into the future are the members of society going to be “on the hook” for the sins of our ancestors with the resultant ills found on some of our countries remote communities and urban centres?
    When 10% of an urban population in a large city such as Winnipeg dovetails with 80% of those incarcerated in the province, theorizing about the cause and continuing with the current method of dealing with the issues inherent in this imbalance is clearly not a workable approach.
    When will one begin to hear of collective solutions by our aborigional leaders that profile their united committment to action for change with a timeline and a move towards individual responsibility and resultant freedom from welfare, subsidized living, government grants; indeed the dismantling of the entire federal reserve system that is the ultimate form of racism towards aborigional people in Canadian society?
    As with many issues, one is categorized by either being with us or against us, regardless of which side one is seen to be part of.
    First Nations are currently in a terrible crisis overall, what with the clash between living in the reality and reason of the 21st century while continuing to focus on the difficulties generated during the late 19th and much of the 20th century. This disconnect has created a situation where individual people and groups have been unable or unwilling to take their personal responsibility to integrate into the current society surrounding them; causing continuous pain by many and considerable monstrous behavior by others.
    The resultant inhibition, lack of awareness to the opportunity to improve one’s daily life, ignoring motivation, and existance in a static non-motivational environment holds people back from their potential; a most serious form of demoralizing servitude initiated on the theory that it is as a result of attempts by others to be fair, antiracist, and willing to atone for past generations’ transgressions…paternalism at its worst.
    Under the current model, many daily acts of living are under the control of federal regulations and therefore subjugates free will of individuals. This level of ignorance and oppression can only be corrected when the attachments to 20th century events is addressed. This correction can be facilitated through a focus on those who have successfully broken free of the yoke of the 20th century to learn of the values of individual progress and modernity, remembering that the past is relative, not absolute, and that the expression and protection of individual expression and choice is paramont to a truly just and racist-free society.
    There is the definite need for women to assume more leadership, as is traditional in many first nations, for transition into a full intregration of individuals into mainstraem society to be successful.
    As an ethnic minority, there is currently not a sufficient espousing of the values of the overall culture. As aborigional populations increase in urban centres, this disconnect and resultant difficulty to adjust will become more evident for individuals, and difficult concurrently for the rest of society to not be aware of. In fact this would dramatically increase the time for non aborigionals to shake off their obscurantism and intolerance.
    Clinging to traditional ideas as preached by certain dogmatic leaders leads to continued indoctrination of all generations as to why conditions are what they are; generally finger pointing elsewhere for problems experienced with little or no personal responsibility expected or taken. Why should individuals integrate and assume individual responsibility to maintain their rights if they are provided with all the supports to maintain slef segregation? For how many generations can churches, governments and other agencies be held responsible for keeping people poor and ignorant of their potentials in life? When is the opportune time to impliment change, if not now?
    It is not racism to question the attachments people have to ideas and traditions that perpetuate their current state of misery. The concept may appear explosive/volatile as it suggests an overall critical change of the status quo from the federal government level to the reserve sytems. The rights of the individual can only occur when the overarching question of what to do is always posed in advance of all political decisions at all levels in society. We need to avoid being overwhelmed by the imperative to be sensitive and respectful of other cultures and the resultant defense of the moral relativists due to blindness created by multicultural dogma.
    There really is a need to avoid elaborate and hypocritical dealings that only lead to the censorship of the truth when dealing with this ongoing cultural conflict, as such behavior never leads to any positive, effective change. Should such an attitude towards elevating the lives of individuals cause discomforting levels of response of all kinds is not relevant to moving in this direction because when something is true, it is simply the truth no matter how uncomfortable it makes people feel. One needs to never apologize for the truth.
    Current high levels of unemployment, disproportionate heavy ongoing claims on social welfare systems / disability benefits, and a disproportionate involvement in all levels of criminal activity are a direct result of cultural issues. There is a poor level of success of integration for many children and grandchildren into urban society as the surrounding technology, money, and potential lifestyle are tempting but unassailable to many. People are being denied their individual social/economic rights in society, remain ignorant of what to do, and cause their children to grow up with violence and substance abuse. It is critical for all children to be fully integrated into the values of the wider community in order to create a learned behavior as to how to experience these values as a positive part of their lives.
    People have the right to be taught how to stand on their own feet and navigate through society based on their own reason and self-respect; confidently dependent on their own internal moral compass. Individuals are responsible for their own morality and should be taught to use reason to guide their lives. One learns to be honest with oneself, therefore honest with others and becomes an overall better and more generous person through choices made unsullied by the optics of obedience, suppression, and indoctrination.After all, everyone experiences their own perceptions of reality that cause them to react to events around them; their definition of what is success for their lives being directly dependent on this. One cannot respond to cues in their surroundings they have not experienced if they have been isolated from the opportunity to the existance of these in their daily lives.

    Initiating change (in no order of significance)

    1) Stop tolerating the oppressive behaviors in some sections of aborigional communiites. Searching for and publically dealing with statistics on welfare use, prison inmate counts, street violence, et all will help to eliminate any complacent attitude of moral relativists who use the claim that all cultures are equal as their mantra to leave things as they are.Any abuse within communities need to be profiled as a matter of public record in order to generate resultant shame in the individual perpetrators as well as raising the consciousness of its existance in the community in order to defuse its perpetuation.
    2) Question and criticize the beliefs of entitlement with planned direction towards eliminating systems that perpetuate them. This and any other examination for effective long reaching change should not be limited by what is currently permitted by the status quo, but open to the far reaching elements of collaberative brainstorming.
    3) Create opportunity for people to recognize and accept how bad their circumstances really are in society at large and develop an affirmative resistance in order to affect change. The hard question to ask here is; if circumstances are not that bad, why are aborigionals in conflict and internal battle among themselves and the rest of society, while the balance of the society appears respectful of each others’ rights, wellbeing, and live together in peaceful coexistance?
    4) There is a strong motive to develop full participation of all members of society as undereducated, oppressed, aand psychologically stunted people perpetuate this reality in their childen. Consequently, society loses those who would be better educated, nutured, and subsequently self-reliant, responsible citizens who are integrated part of a productive society.
    5) Use multimedia social networking technology extensively to invite participation, expose findings, encourage public forums, post images using satire, art, music and generally create an arena for creative people/groups throughout the country with the courage to express a dissident message. Included in these could be visuals of living conditions on reserves, inner city areas, and others to show contrasts throughout the country where different philosophies can create dramatically different conditions and resultant lifestyles.
    6) Bring into question the current adoption philosophy in the country, where aborigional children are consciously placed with aborigional families versus any family who may wish to foster/adopt a child. This restrictive form of racism does not exist in the rest of Canadian regarding ethnic groups. In fact, if such was even suggested in today’s society, wherein children of any ethnic group were to be placed only with those of the same background, there would no doubt be a very loud and resounding negative response from Canadians.
    7) A dramatic reduction in UE benefits, minimum wage, and welfare should be considered along with a corresponding requirement for all recipients to produce some work that benefits the overall community in order for them to continue to receive their benefits. No recipient should be receiving more financial assistance than they would earn from gainful employment, otherwise there is no incentive towards independence. Consequently, people would be receiving their benefits as performance-related income wherein working for their money would provide them with the food, shelter, clothing, and other necessities; not as a hand out with few if any conditions attached.
    8) There should be serious consideration given to the complete dismantling of the federal Department of Indian Affairs. Those who are politically involved from Ottawa to the community level have a full understanding of the challenges facing individuals on the reserves and city communities, but just don’t truly address them with long term solutions in mind as they are all too comfortably bloated on subsiduaries that support their own economic existance and are not committed to any real programming/actions for change. Disagreement with the current status quo is seen by some as insolence, even though it implies the need to create assumed equality along with a highly individualized, no-hierarchial relationship between all people, regardless of their ethnicity. Liberation of thinking from the current rigid, dogmatic obedience to government dictates is paramont to the overall liberation of the lives of all individuals as it will permit them the opportunity to apply the interpretation of their lives into the current era, instead of adherring to circumstances of the distant past.
    9) No more time should be wasted building political coalitions as this distracts from the practise of freedom of expression that leads to effective change that comes from open transparent debate and subsequent collaberative decision-making.The current model of appeasement of the demands of leaders is irresponsible and morally wrong as social harmony cannot occur without responsible assimilated individualism. Anything less is merely a distraction creating a smoke screen raised to obscure the real issue which is the systemic denying of people their rights and responsibilities as humans.

    Conclusion:

    How to integrate, to choose as an individual to be part of a culture is the key to personal and overall societal success. There is the need to be free from bondage to any system with adhocratic overt inflexible controls, magical thinking processes, diluted religious tribal concepts, and concrete black and white solutions. It is wrong to prolong the pain of transistion through the elevating and supporting of the culture of bigotry which currently exists as this reinforces self-deception, hypocracy, and double standards both within specific communities and as well as the overall society.
    All citizens deserve the enjoyment of rights, resultant responsibilities, and freedoms recognized and protected by society. When arguements are not clouded by any sidebar discussions about historical wrongs, finger pointing to others about responsiblities, et al. can freedoms be judged on their validity
    Inequality under our current system creates an oppression of individuals that causes them to unknowingly fall behind the rest of society. The resulting backwardness regarding the ability to join current society will increase with every subsequent generation, further retarding their awareness of how to change their destiny.
    All people have the ability to adapt.

  12. I was stunned to learn of the proportion of federally sentenced aboriginal women (1/3) compared to their numbers in the Canadian female population (3%)-Trouble in The Big House, S. Findlay, Jan. 17. So stunned that I posted in on my facebook page and talked about it to anyone who would listen. Nobody beleived me! I'm not sure what I can do about the bigger problem but I am not content to have just raised awareness a little. This is just so wrong.

    • All women segregated for over years upon years some as long as 7 years on THE MANAGEMENT PROTOCOL are ALL Aboriginal women seperated across Canada awat from there supports and children..It is a shame

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