Aboriginal street youth in Vancouver face higher rates of incarceration than non aboriginal peers: Study

published on October 7, 2015 by Tiffany Crawford in The Vancouver Sun

VANCOUVER – Aboriginal street youth in Vancouver spend more time in prison than their non-aboriginal peers, according to a study released Wednesday by the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.

The At Risk Youth study, conducted by the centre’s Urban Health Research Initiative and published in the journal Public Health, collected data from 1,050 youths between the ages of 14 and 26 over eight years. Of those, 248, or about one quarter, reported being of aboriginal ancestry.

Researchers found that 44 per cent of the aboriginal participants had spent time in prison, compared with 34 per cent of non aboriginal youth.

Dr. Kora DeBeck, research scientist at UHRI and SFU professor, said when researchers took into account drug use, homelessness and other factors that might place youth at greater risk of imprisonment, they found aboriginal youth were 1.4 times more likely to end up incarcerated.

She said one possible explanation is that policing practices disproportionately target aboriginal youth resulting in higher rates of incarceration among this group, although she noted that further research is needed.

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