Majority of provinces, territories lack ‘indispensable’ Gladue report writing programs

 Brittany GuyotAPTN NewsThe majority of provinces and territories in Canada don’t have an established Gladue report writing unit, something the Supreme Court of Canada has called an “indispensable” service for Indigenous offenders.In fact, just three provinces and territories – British Columbia, the Yukon and Ontario – offer full programs that provide the essential service which offers Indigenous offenders the chance to have their background taken into consideration in sentencing decisions.Offenders like Clint Sinclair in Manitoba did not have the benefit of a Gladue report at his sentencing for a previous drug trafficking conviction in 2016. His probation officer did a pre-sentence report which is not as detailed as a full Gladue report.“When it came time for court, the pre-sentence report didn’t really help me a whole lot,” he said. “I still ended up getting sentenced to two-years-less-a-day, which wasn’t a good deal or anything like that.”(Clint Sinclair says he had to arrange his own pre-sentence hearing. Photo: APTN/Damian Joseph)He said he had to seek out the report on his own.And the courts seem to agree that pre-sentence reports are not sufficient and can even be culturally biased.Earlier this year, in R v. Ewert, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld a Federal Court ruling that the risk assessment tests in pre-sentence reports are culturally biased, and subsequently violates s. 24(1) of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA).That section of the CCRA says that “correctional policies, programs and practices must respect cultural differences and be responsive to the special needs of Indigenous peoples.”“You need somebody with some substantial training in Indigenous histories, in Indigenous communities. The same way that we don’t expect a lawyer who’s trained in criminal law to do family law. There’s specialized training that you need,” said Paula Maurutto, a University of Toronto professor. She added probation officers are tasked to simply add a section with Gladue factors like addictions, low education and family violence to a pre-sentence report. She called that a “critical error.” (Paula Maurutto is a sociology professor at University of Toronto. Photo: APTN/Beverly Andrews)Gladue reports are written summaries that give judges a full understanding of an Indigenous offender’s background. They include factors which may play into how an offender arrived before the courts.The Supreme Court of Canada handed down the landmark R v. Gladue ruling in in 1999. It was established that judges must consider the unique circumstances of Indigenous offenders by opting for alternatives to incarceration. However, the sentence must be reasonable and proportionate to the severity of the offence.Gladue reports are intended to offer insight that may lead to more rehabilitative sentences and acknowledge the effects of Canada’s colonial legacy on Indigenous offenders. But even though the Supreme Court ruling has been the law of the land for almost 20 years, Canada has still not developed national standards for preparing Gladue reports, despite the over-representation of Indigenous peoples in the justice system.Hope in ManitobaSharon Perrault, programs manager of the John Howard Society of Manitoba said they are looking a developing a Gladue report writing program.(Sharon Perrault is programs manager of the John Howard Society of Manitoba. Photo: APTN/Jared Delorme)Particularly in the Prairie region we have an overrepresentation of Indigenous people and so my hope is that we’re going to gain a better understanding of the population in general,” she said, “The individual also has an opportunity to gain a better understanding of why they landed up where they landed up.”It may be too late for Clint Sinclair to benefit but for now, he says he just wants to focus on being a good role model for his son.“I want to show him that we don’t have to use drugs and we don’t have to use alcohol to be happy,” he said. “We can be good people, we can walk a better path.”

10 thoughts on “Majority of provinces, territories lack ‘indispensable’ Gladue report writing programs

  1. The reading, interpretation and application of the reports by judges should also be considered. A focus on the quality of the reports seems to leave out a key piece, judges, lawyers and prosecutors who mayhave limited knowledge about Indigenous history, culture and traditions.

  2. The reading, interpretation and application of the reports by judges should also be considered. A focus on the quality of the reports seems to leave out a key piece, judges, lawyers and prosecutors who mayhave limited knowledge about Indigenous history, culture and traditions.

  3. A training program has also been set up in Saskatchewan by Christine Goodwin of Seventh Generation Consulting Group. This is a 10 day in class intensive program that lasts for 3-6 months depending on the student’s needs. Saskatchewan has one of the highest rates on incarceration and also one of the lowest rates of Gladue Reports written in Canada. There are several qualified potential writers lining up for the training but we need to get the government on board to get a program where the offenders actually get the reports…before its too late.

    1. The reading, interpretation and application of the reports by judges should also be considered. A focus on the quality of the reports seems to leave out a key piece, judges, lawyers and prosecutors who mayhave limited knowledge about Indigenous history, culture and traditions.

  4. A training program has also been set up in Saskatchewan by Christine Goodwin of Seventh Generation Consulting Group. This is a 10 day in class intensive program that lasts for 3-6 months depending on the student’s needs. Saskatchewan has one of the highest rates on incarceration and also one of the lowest rates of Gladue Reports written in Canada. There are several qualified potential writers lining up for the training but we need to get the government on board to get a program where the offenders actually get the reports…before its too late.

    1. The reading, interpretation and application of the reports by judges should also be considered. A focus on the quality of the reports seems to leave out a key piece, judges, lawyers and prosecutors who mayhave limited knowledge about Indigenous history, culture and traditions.

  5. Hello,
    This is a good story but it is missing an important fact: Indigenous Persoectives Society and Royal Roads University have partnered to provide high quality, online Gladue writer training. To date, the training has been provided to current and prospective writers in BC, the Yukon, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. This training is linked with my national research project on Gladue and the National Working Group on Gladue, which includes Stakeholders and thought leaders on Gladue from Indigenous organizations, government and Legal Aid across Canada. Anyone who wishes more information about Gladue training or the research and related initiatives should contact Dr Jane Dickson at Carleton University in Ottawa. For information on training, please contact the Indigenous Perspectives Society out of Victoria, BC.

  6. Hello,
    This is a good story but it is missing an important fact: Indigenous Persoectives Society and Royal Roads University have partnered to provide high quality, online Gladue writer training. To date, the training has been provided to current and prospective writers in BC, the Yukon, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. This training is linked with my national research project on Gladue and the National Working Group on Gladue, which includes Stakeholders and thought leaders on Gladue from Indigenous organizations, government and Legal Aid across Canada. Anyone who wishes more information about Gladue training or the research and related initiatives should contact Dr Jane Dickson at Carleton University in Ottawa. For information on training, please contact the Indigenous Perspectives Society out of Victoria, BC.

  7. anything that has to or try to be done in respect to natives,is always be a failure we are just set up this way,we feed the bellies of professionals

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