Community, not jail, for indigenous offenders in Canada

In response to ongoing over-representation of indigenous groups in Canada’s prisons, Aboriginal Legal Services has established a community justice program whereby indigenous offenders can voluntarily join a community “healing circle” as an alternative to doing time. Advocates hope the approach will help bridge persistent inequalities in access to justice in the country by stepping away from a culture of punishment by exclusion from society.

Healing circle programs are free. Participants are tasked with rehabilitation activities that benefit the wider community, as determined by an indigenous council. Upon completion of the required activities, participants – whose records may include all crimes except murder, sexual assault, domestic violence, and drunk driving – have their criminal records cleared.

August 21, 2013 | Namati