The use of conditional sentencing in Manitoba : a snapshot of ten Aboriginal offenders

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Parris, Diane
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This is a Master of Social Work thesis looking at the use of restorative justice with Aboriginal offenders. The individual offenders have been diverted from sentences of incarceration to community based conditional sentences. The current literature on the sentencing of Aboriginal offenders indicates that Aboriginal Canadians are 8.5 times more likely than non-Aboriginal offenders to receive terms of incarceration (Daubney, 2002, p.38). In response to this, the federal government enacted Bill C-41 in 1996. This Bill introduced two pieces of "special considerations" legislation, section 718.2 and section 742.1 into the Criminal Code. This legislation was intended to address the over use of incarceration, the unique circumstances of Aboriginal offenders and to introduce a diversion sentencing option of conditional sentencing. This thesis research is a case study analysis of ten Aboriginal offenders serving conditional sentences in the community. Readers will find that the findings present how participants felt about their different levels of 'connectedness' or distance from their Aboriginal heritage. Participants shared their thoughts on whether or not they felt that their heritage should have been considered during their sentencing process. Readers will listen to participants' stories of their sentencing process and as they described their conditional sentences, how they felt about serving their sentence in the community, and how they felt about their conditional sentence in comparison to terms of incarceration. The findings then allow the reader to hear how participants' felt about the principles of restorative justice. Participants also described their feelings about 'repairing the harm' and making restitution, reparation, and rehabilitation. Discussion surrounding the participants' descriptions, perceptions, thoughts and feelings are connected to the literature in regards to the use of conditional sentencing and the use of restorative justice principles in repairing the harm. Recommendations are given for further study, and services to better address the overrepresentation of Aboriginal offenders.