Common QuestionsWhat does the judge consider in sentencing an Aboriginal person?
Anybody who thinks of themselves (self-identifies) as Aboriginal has what are called Gladue rights. These rights mean that when making sentencing decisions about an Aboriginal person, a judge must consider the adverse or harmful social conditions that many Aboriginals face. This consideration may, in some cases, lead to a restorative justice remedy(a type of sentencing that tries to follow an Aboriginal view of justice: the focus is on responsibility and healing instead of punishment). An example of this is circle sentencing, when the sentencing judge and appropriate community members meet outside the courtroom to discuss an appropriate sentence for the accused.
Good starting points include:
- Are You Aboriginal? Do You Have a Bail Hearing? Are You Being Sentenced for a Crime? is a fact sheet produced by the Legal Services Society. It provides overview information on preparing a Gladue report and the First Nations Court in New Westminster.
- Gladue Primer, from the Legal Services Society, is a guide that explains Gladue rights in more detail and what these rights mean for Aboriginal people who have a bail hearing or are being sentenced for a crime. The booklet also has resources for preparing Gladue reports.
- Aboriginal People and Sentencing,from Justice Education Society of BC, explains Aboriginal sentencing and how it considers their special cultural circumstances. It also provides information on how restorative justice may be applied by the law.
- Aboriginal People and the Law in British Columbia, from the Legal Services Society, is a guide for legal advocates about Aboriginal issues including sentencing of Aboriginal people. The chapter "Criminal Law" includes a section on sentencing, including the option of circle sentencing.
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