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Aboriginal people over-represented in Saskatchewan's prisons

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Aboriginal people make up 3% of Canada's population but about 20% of the prison inmate population, which makes the study of Saskatchewan's correctional services based on the new Integrated Correctional Services Survey very pertinent.

The number of Aboriginal inmates is reaching critical levels in Saskatchewan, which is among the provinces with the highest proportion of Aboriginal people. Of the 25,000 adults who were under correctional supervision in the province from 1999 to 2004, 57% were Aboriginal people. Yet, Aboriginal people made up only 10% of Saskatchewan's adult population.

The situation of Aboriginal young people is even more worrisome. On an average day in May 2001, about 13% of all Aboriginal people aged 18 and 19 in Saskatchewan spent time in a correctional facility. In addition, the rapid growth rate of Saskatchewan's Aboriginal population may drive more unemployed young people into the province's prison system.

Chart: Re-involvements with correctional services within four years of release, SaskatchewanMore Aboriginal people than non-Aboriginal people re-entered Saskatchewan's correctional system within four years following their release. Fifty-eight percent of the Aboriginal offenders released during the 1999/2000 fiscal year were re-admitted less than four years later-double the percentage of non-Aboriginal offenders.

The offence with the highest rate of return to correctional supervision was robbery. Those least likely to re-enter the correctional system were offenders whose most serious offence was fraud or drug-related.

The higher crime rate among Aboriginal groups is associated with socio-economic problems such as poverty, poor education, unemployment, alcoholism, and family and marital difficulties.