tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory – The BC First Nations Justice Council is pleased to announce the launch of its highly anticipated new book, The Gladue Principles: A Guide to the Jurisprudence, by Benjamin Ralston.
A free PDF version of the entire book is available on the BCFNJC website, including free PDF user guides specifically for crown counsel, defence counsel, Gladue report writers and judges. To download, please visit https://bcfnjc.com/reform-the-justice-system/
“Full implementation of Gladue throughout the system is a vital initiative of the First Nations Justice Strategy to address the overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples in the criminal justice system,” said Doug White, QC, chair, BCFNJC.
“I encourage everyone working in the justice system to read The Gladue Principles to understand why Gladue rights are so important to delivering better outcomes for Indigenous peoples in our courts,” said David Eby, Attorney General. “I am grateful to Professor Ralston and BCFNJC for their work to make these resources freely available to all.”
Professor Ralston has authored this guide on the jurisprudence and its history to be used by all those who work in the criminal justice system—from Indigenous leaders and communities, to lawmakers, judges, prosecutors, defence counsel, police and law enforcement, corrections and parole.
Overrepresentation of Indigenous people in jails is well-documented and understood, long-standing and ever worsening, and reveals the depths of the legacy and intractability of colonialism in the criminal justice system.
No fact is more illustrative of this than the trajectory of overrepresentation over the past 30 years. In the mid-1990s, Indigenous people made up 10% of the prison populations in the country while making up only 5% of the overall population of Canada. As of 2020, just over 30% of prison populations are Indigenous.
“We commissioned the development of this book written by Professor Benjamin Ralston with the goal of spurring greater action to implement Gladue across the country. Our hope is that this guide will serve as an important cornerstone in supporting this essential work,” said White.
About the BCFNJC
The BC First Nations Justice Council has a clear mandate to transform the justice system and create better outcomes for Indigenous people through implementation of the BC First Nations Justice Strategy.
The strategy, signed March 06, 2020, was jointly developed by the BC First Nations Justice Council, BC First Nations communities and the Province of British Columbia. It includes 43 actions along two paths which involve the reformation of the current system as well as the restoration of First Nation legal traditions and structures.
About Gladue reports
Under the Criminal Code of Canada, an Indigenous person has the right for judges to consider their particular circumstances, including the unique systemic or background factors that may have played a part in bringing the Indigenous person before the courts. These factors would be summarized in a Gladue report.
Alongside the duty to review the unique circumstances that have impacted an individual, judges are also encouraged to take a restorative justice approach, directing a person to rehabilitation or community-based sentencing instead of jail. To support this, Gladue reports provide the court with comprehensive information on the client and the client’s community, as well as a plan that looks at realistic and viable alternatives to prison time.
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