Equitable Access: A Comparison of the Sentencing of Aboriginal Offenders across Canada
The overrepresentation of Aboriginal offenders in Canada’s criminal justice system has been noted in the academic literature for several decades. In response to the identification of this issue, the Canadian government attempted to remedy this widespread problem with the enactment of s.718.2 (e) of the Criminal Code which instructs judges to consider alternatives to incarceration when sentencing Aboriginal offenders. Previous literature has examined whether or not judges are applying this provision and found mixed results. However, little research has examined whether the sentencing provision and Gladue (1999) are applied differentially across the country. To evaluate this issue, a mixed method analysis is implemented to quantitatively and qualitatively examine reported sentencing decisions from across Canada. This study examines 121 manslaughter cases with Aboriginal offenders between 1999 and 2014. Results of the analysis provide evidence of differential application of the sentencing provisions across the country. Future research and policy implications will also be discussed.