Black, Indigenous inmates more likely involved in ‘use of force’ incidents: report

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WATCH: Canada's prison watchdog has found that BIPOC inmates are more likely to be involved in 'use of force' incidents – Feb 11, 2022

On Thursday, the annual report of the Office of the Correctional Investigator was tabled in Parliament.

The prison watchdog’s report found that incarcerated Black and Indigenous persons were more likely to be involved in ‘use of force’ incidents.

“My investigation of race and involvement in use of force incidents in federal penitentiaries is deeply troubling,” says Dr. Ivan Zinger, Correctional Investigator of Canada.

“We found that racial background was uniquely associated with the over-representation of Black, Indigenous, and Peoples of Colour (BIPOC) in use of force incidents. Regardless of risk level, security level, age, sentence length or gender, identifying as an Indigenous or Black incarcerated person was associated with a greater likelihood of involvement in a use of force incident.”

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From 2015 to 2020, the report studied 9,633 reported incidents of use of force in prisons.

The study concluded that BIPOC persons accounted for 60 per cent of all uses of force, while representing 44 per cent of the federally incarcerated population.

“The report helps us understand the situation so that we can furthermore invest in training of our the staff and in finding ways of preventing the overuse of force with, for example, Black people or Indigenous inmates,” says Sylvain Mongrain, acting director-general of the Correctional Service of Canada.

The report didn’t outline the types of use of force, but did mention that the use of inflammatory sprays should be decreased in future use of force incidents.

Mongrain says the CSC is working with multiple committees who represent racialized groups to better their training practices.

“We need their expertise and their perspective on our use of force and intervention model to make some adjustments,” he says.

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Indigenous persons in particular are more likely than any other group to be involved in a use of force incident.

They account for 39 per cent of all inmates involved in uses of force, despite representing, on average, 28 per cent of the prison population.

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To compare, 42 per cent of white inmates were involved in a use of force incident, while representing 52 per cent of the prison population.

Dr. Zinger is calling on CSC to immediately develop a plan to reduce the over-representation of Black and Indigenous persons involved in use of force incidents, and reduce use of force incidents overall.

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