Aboriginals far more likely to be jailed: Report

published on October 7, 2015 by Stefania Seccia in 24 Hours (Vancouver)

Aboriginal street kids are more likely to see the inside of a jail cell than their non-aboriginal counterparts – so concludes an eight-year study on the matter by the Urban Health Research Initiative.

From 2005 to 2013, the study with researchers from Simon Fraser University, University of BC, and the University of Victoria, tracked 1,050 youths between 14 and 26 years old who lived on the street across Metro Vancouver. One-quarter identified as aboriginal.

Over the study period, 36% of all participants reported having spent at least one night in detention, prison or jail in the last six months – and aboriginal youth reported a higher rate of being in jail than the others.

“Aboriginal youth were still found to be 40% more likely to be incarcerated compared to non-aboriginal, street-involved youth,” said Kora DeBeck, an initiative research scientist and senior study author. “We’re seeing in our data aboriginal youth struggling day to day to get housing, get food, get services and support they need.

“There just seems to be continually so many gaps within how we support these youth.”

DeBeck said one possibility is that “policing practices disproportionately target aboriginal youth,” but further research is needed to confirm that theory.

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