Explaining The Causes Of Criminality Criminology Essay

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Explaining the causes of criminality in women has been an attractive subject matter in the criminology discipline in the last couple decades. For the most part, the Canadian criminal justice system focuses on men. This is due to the known fact that crime is more predominant in men than in women. Because of the large number of men in the criminal justice system, and the small number of women in the criminal justice system, there is a lack of resources available for the female offender which make it difficult to provide an adequate justice system for them. The justice system was designed for men, and the current system for women is a modified version of the men's system, which brings about difficulties.

In Canada, there is an alarmingly high number of certain minority groups represented within the justice system, in particular, Aboriginals [1] (Barker 2009). Aboriginal peoples of Canada have certain needs which have to be addressed alongside their cultural needs. Given that the Canadian criminal justice system already faces many struggles in creating a system which is "female-friendly", let alone a "culturally-friendly" system which addresses the needs of Aboriginal peoples; the needs of the aboriginal female offender have to be the absolute, most difficult to assess and accommodate. Not only does the Aboriginal female offender face struggles within a system designed intentionally for men, but they also face multi-layered complications due to their ethnic background. Because of historical colonisation their aboriginal identity plays a big role with the disadvantages they face prior to the justice system, and when being processed within the system. The Canadian justice system, in all areas, undoubtedly is unfit and unfair for the aboriginal female offender. Firstly, this problem is predominantly distinct in the front-lines of the justice system which is law enforcement; even with the revolutionary shift from P4W, or Kingston penitentiary, female correctional institutions are still not providing a positive environment for the aboriginal female offender; and ultimately Canadian laws systemically discriminate the aboriginal minority and this discrimination, unintentionally, has the greatest impact on the aboriginal female offender: the most marginalised minority group in Canada.

Body- policing

The RCMP Police and other municipal groups of police forces are the front lines of Canada's justice system, they are to enforce laws, keep the peace, and protect the public from harm. According to the 2009 Juristat (Statistics Canada 2009), Aboriginal women are three times more likely to experience violent victimization than non-Aboriginal women, this is reflective of the 600 missing and or murdered aboriginal women in Canada (NWAC 2005), some of which could have been prevented. An infamous case involving the deaths of two aboriginal women and law enforcement took place on the night of February 16, 2000, Corrine McKeown and Doreen Leclair, two aboriginal sisters, were murdered by McKeown's former boyfriend. This case was a very big story in the media because the women had made about five police and '911' phone calls in the period of eight hours, pleading for help (CBC 2004). There is already a lack of protection for aboriginal women as represented in these murders. For the aboriginal female offender, this lack of protection is even less apparent. Law enforcement groups lack the cultural knowledge of Aboriginal peoples. A majority of the missing and murdered women were street prostitutes trying to make money to survive. These women are afraid to seek help from the police because they know they will not be helped and fear the consequences of letting police know what they are doing. Prostitution carries a stigma alone, but their Aboriginal background also carries a stigma in the justice system which makes people treat them differently. There are many who argue that if these missing and murdered women had been white, and not Aboriginal, investigations would have been taken more serious, they would have been thorough, and the time spent on actually starting the investigation would have been initiated in an urgent matter.

Many of these Aboriginal women are single parents and turn to crime in the hopes of supporting their child, or have nothing at all but simply need to survive. Police issue tickets and fines, not knowing that these women already do not have resources, hence their illegitimate means to obtain certain resources. Most times, when they do not pay off previous fines, they are processed through the system and sent to prison by court officials. Ontario Native Women's Association in 1989, found that 80% of Aboriginal women had personally experienced family violence. One study stated that while one in ten women in Canada is abused by her partner, for Aboriginal women the figure is closer to one in three (Justice Inquiry of Manitoba 1999). This significant finding, needs to be taken into account by all law enforcement officials that these women are an extremely marginalised minority group in Canada, many of their crimes are a result of multiple factors, their poor circumstances, and having a violent history, because what they are doing now is not currently working.

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Canada's federal institutions for the female offender has come a long ways since the first institution for the female offender. P4W, or Kingston Penitentiary was located in Kingston Ontario, and was the first federal institution for women in Canada. The conditions in Kingston was said to have been "Unfit for bears," let alone women (Arbour 1996:11). Kingston housed both male and female offenders. The conditions of the prison took a toll on the women mentally, and physically. Louise Arbour, commissioner of Inquiry into certain events at the Prison for Women in Kingston, or more commonly known as the Arbour report, said that the prison had "ongoing infringement of prisoners' legal rights" and the treatment of women in the prison was "cruel, inhumane and degrading" (Arbour 1996). However, for the Aboriginal female offender serving time in Kingston, it was very difficult for them. For example, Aboriginal culture was not taken into consideration in sentencing, the prison was also very far from their homes, and most of these Aboriginal women were mothers and had families to take care of (Maclean's 1996). In 1994 the last female inmate was moved from Kingston after the Correctional Services of Canada published Creating choices: the report of the task force on federally sentenced women, which changed the prison system for the female offender and even took into consideration the needs of the Aboriginal female offender the opening of the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge in Maple Creek, Saskatchewan.

Although the number of Aboriginal male offenders are much higher than the number of Aboriginal female offenders in the justice system, according to a number of reports investigating Aboriginal males and females in the correctional system, the number of Aboriginal females processed through corrections is significantly higher than that of her male counterpart (Barker 2009). Unfortunately, even with the significant changes in the correctional system and especially in federal institutions for the female offender with the closing of P4W, there are still various problems which arise primarily for the Aboriginal female offender in the current federal prison system. Promises have been made in the implementation of new programs to be culturally appropriate for the Aboriginal female offender, however, these new programs have not been successful in running appropriately. The Survey of Federally Sentenced Aboriginal Women in the Community, a report by the Correctional services of Canada interviewed thirty-nine Aboriginal women who had federally served time in prison, and all of which who had experienced some form of negative contact with "white authority" (CSC 2012) [2] . "Those few "helping" services in prison that are intended to heal are delivered in ways that are culturally inappropriate to us as women and as Aboriginal people" (CSC 2012) said one of the Aboriginal interviewees about the current correctional system. The prison system is not appropriate for the needs of the Aboriginal female offender. Due to the differences in Aboriginal culture, the prison system is not an effective form of punishment for the Aboriginal offender.

The justice system holds the label as the "White Man's Law" and the policies of the "White Man" has haunted Aboriginal people since first contact. In traditional forms of Aboriginal justice, "healing" the offender is the priority. By "healing", the offender's issues are addressed through Aboriginal teachings and ceremonies, contact with Elders and children, and interaction with nature (CSC2007). This kind of "doing-time" brings back Aboriginal culture and gives hope for the offender to have long term success when returning to their community. In the "White Man's" law, or the Western system of justice, the main role of the justice system is to ensure conformity, punish deviant behaviour and protect society (CCJA 2000) [3] . The two forms of justice are very different from one another. On the one hand you have a system which 'blames and punishes' the offender, and on the other hand you have a system which wants to 'heal' the offender in mind, body, and soul.

According to a number of reports investigating Aboriginal males and females in the correctional system, the number of Aboriginal females processed through corrections is significantly higher than that of her male counterpart (Barker 2009). Prisons offer more white authority that is sexist, racist and violent.

A report done by the Canadian Criminal Justice Association showed that Aboriginal people accused of crime were more likely to be denied bail, those who are accused of a crime are more likely to be charged with multiple offences against the system; At court proceedings, they are less likely to have legal representation; Aboriginal clients, especially in northern communities where the court party flies in the day of the hearing, spend less time with their lawyers; as court schedules in remote areas are poorly planned, judges may have limited time to spend in the community; Aboriginal offenders are two times more likely to be incarcerated than non-Aboriginal offenders; Aboriginal Elders, who are also spiritual leaders, are not given the same status as prison priests and chaplains, in all institutions, and Aboriginal people often plead guilty because they are intimidated by the court and simply want to get the proceedings over with (CCJA 2000)

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