Improvements to Gladue reports coming: Justice

Yukon's Department of Justice says plans are underway to improve Gladue reporting in the territory.

Yukon’s Department of Justice says plans are underway to improve Gladue reporting in the territory.

Spokesperson Dan Cable said a meeting has been planned, likely for early September, to discuss the next steps in getting people trained to write the court reports on aboriginal offenders’ history.

“There’s no doubt that we need to make improvements to Gladue reporting. There’s no doubt about that,” Cable said. But he says it’s too soon to say exactly what those improvements will look like.

In Canada, judges are required to consider a person’s aboriginal ancestry, the history of colonialism and the disproportionately high number of aboriginal people incarcerated when they are crafting a sentence.

That’s where Gladue reports come in. The reports layout a person’s history and also provide judges with a menu of options for sentencing.

Until last year only two people in the territory wrote Gladue reports. Both were basically self-taught and neither received any extra money for doing it along side their regular jobs.

Right now only one person in the Yukon writes reports on a regular basis.

About 50 Gladue reports have been completed in the Yukon since the end of 2010.

A recent report called that “ad hoc” way of doing things “unsustainable.”

“The current reality in the Yukon is that many aboriginal offenders are still being sentenced with only a superficial summary of their life circumstances and little to no information about community or culturally relevant resources at their disposal,” it says.

A 2012 report by Public Safety Canada said that while aboriginal people only made up roughly four per cent of Canada’s population, they accounted for more than 20 per cent of inmates in federal penitentiaries.

In 2010, aboriginal women made up nearly a third of female federal offenders.

In the Yukon, 71 per cent of offenders at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre are First Nations. According to Statistics Yukon, First Nations people make up about 21 per cent of the territory’s population.

This latest report recommends Yukon follow in the footsteps of seven other jurisdictions in Canada that have an official Gladue writing program.

It says if a limit is placed on when a Gladue report can be ordered, like if an offender is facing a sentence of three months or more, three or four trained writers could provide all the reports for the Yukon for a year.

One other option is to have the writing contracted out instead of performed by a central government office.

Cable said it is to soon to say what route will be taken in the territory or who will pay for everything.

The planned meeting will include everyone involved with the report, including representative from the department, the Yukon Public Prosecution Service Office and the Council of Yukon First Nations.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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