Prison watchdog urges Liberals to address aboriginal corrections issues

File photo. File / Global News

OTTAWA – The country’s prison watchdog says the Liberal government should act quickly on outstanding recommendations from his office, including a call to create a deputy commissioner of aboriginal corrections.

Howard Sapers says outcomes for indigenous inmates — who represent 24 per cent of the prison population — continue to be far worse than for other offenders.

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Sapers says issues facing aboriginal inmates, including more time spent in custody and in segregation cells, are urgent and require stand-alone leadership.

He also notes the government should address aboriginal-specific provisions in the Corrections and Conditional Release Act designed to enhance community involvement in corrections and address the disproportionate number of aboriginal people behind bars.

He says, for example, there are no healing lodges operated by aboriginal communities in the North, or in Ontario and British Columbia, where there are high concentrations of aboriginal offenders.

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In its final report, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called for the creation of additional healing lodge spaces across the country — a recommendation embraced by the Liberals during the election campaign along with 93 other proposals.

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