Congress of Aboriginal Peoples: Sexual coercion, unchecked violence, discrimination behind bars

THE Office of the Correctional Investigator tabled its 47th annual report in Parliament on Friday detailing concerning trends in federal correctional institutions, said the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples. Among the issues raised were the prevalence of sexual coercion of inmates and the lack of any oversight or reporting mechanism for victims, gaps in mental health care, and a failure to provide meaningful learning opportunities for inmates.

The report further details the ongoing disproportionately higher levels of incarceration of Indigenous people in Canada, as well as consistently poorer correctional outcomes, higher rates of use of force, lower rates of early release and higher rates of self-injury for Indigenous inmates.

“The stories in this report read like something out of a medieval torture chamber, not a modern correctional institution” said Kim Beaudin, National Vice Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples. “Inmates stuck in cells with no toilets under 24/7 surveillance for weeks on end. Sexual assault without any repercussions. Using explosive devices in confined spaces against prisoners. It’s as much a horror story as a report to Parliament.”

The report contains a series of recommendations to Parliament, such as measures to address sexual assault and sexual coercion, improvements to mental health services, and improvements to education and vocational training for inmates.

“CAP has been an active partner to Correction Services Canada in the past,” said Elmer St. Pierre, CAP National Chief.  “We urge CSC and Public Safety to support implementation of the Political Accord between CAP and the Government of Canada, to ensure the voice of off-reserve and non-status Indigenous communities can guide correction and rehabilitation”