The federal prison system has been discriminating against Aboriginals, according to the Annual Report of the Correctional Investigator, and something must be done about it.

In his report released October 16, Canada’s Correctional Investigator, Howard Sapers, found that the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) routinely classifies First Nations, Métis and Inuit inmates as higher security risks than non-native inmates.

Also, Aboriginal offenders are released later in their sentences than other inmates and they are more likely to have their conditional release revoked than other offenders.

The Sapers report also found that Aboriginal inmates often did not receive rapid access to rehabilitative programming and services that would help them return to their communities.

The report calls on the CSC to make “significant and quantifiable” progress to close the gap between Aboriginal and other offenders in terms of timely and safe conditional release. This includes ending the over-classification of

Aboriginal offenders; providing timely access to programming and services to increase the number of Aboriginal inmates

ready to appear before the Parole Board at their earliest eligibility dates; and increasing reliance on legislative provisions that allow for the direct involvement of Aboriginal communities in supporting the timely conditional release of inmates.

Sapers also recommends that the CSC increase the representation of its Aboriginal workforce at institutions where a majority of offenders are of Aboriginal heritage.

While Aboriginal people make up only 2.7 percent of the Canadian population, they account for 18.5 percent of the federal prison population, according to the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, 2006.