Aboriginal prison population jumps

March 7, 2013 at 3:54 PM

OTTAWA, March 7 (UPI) -- A look into Canada's prisons found aboriginals make up 23 percent of the country's prison population, but only 4 percent of Canada's total population.

The report was handed over to the House of Commons Thursday morning by the Office of the Correctional Investigator, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Canada's population of aboriginal inmates has jumped by more than 50 percent in the past 10 years, the report states.

The report also found aboriginal inmates are more likely to be sentenced to longer prison terms and to spend more time in segregation and maximum security. They are less likely to be granted parole and are more likely to have parole revoked for minor problems.

"It's a troubling pattern that has to be broken," said Shawn Atleo, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations. "When you open the door to a school, you close the door to a jail cell."

Atleo said the Canadian government needs to spend more money on programs that help to prevent aboriginal Canadians from reoffending "or we see this pattern continue unabated, and that is obviously completely unacceptable."

National Inuit Leader Terry Audla and President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami said the report was a "wake-up call."

"This report makes it clear that the status quo isn't working and the federal government must engage directly with the Inuit to put in place support for those Inuit who are incarcerated," Audla said.

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