People who live here in the Prairies know that its future landmarks are more likely to be jails than grain elevators. Here, it has become fact that a male aboriginal has a better chance of going to jail than graduating from high school. It is an area, aside from the territories, that incarcerates at the highest rate in Canada. It is a place where prisons could likely become the primary industry. And, it is true that this 'industry' of a sort is booming. Its total offender population reached an all-time high in one recent year of 12,000 Native incarcerates out of an overall total of 30,000. A study of Canada's correctional facilities done in 1996 showed it was operating over-capacity at a stifling 113 per cent.
Each province has its own rate of incarceration, but the Prairie provinces all have the highest numbers. In Manitoba the total number of inmates is 1,393.
The number of Native inmates is 822. This becomes a 59% rate in the jails. In Saskatchewan the total number of inmates is 3,850. The number of Native inmates is 2,926. This becomes a 76% rate in the jails. In Alberta the total number of inmates is 15,491. The number of Native inmates is 5,887. This becomes a 38% rate in the jails. In British Columbia the total number of inmates is 9,628. The number of Native inmates is 1,926. This becomes a 20% rate in the jails.
These rates are very high when compared to Ontario, Quebec or Newfoundland. In Ontario there are 32,815 inmates, and only 328 of them are Native. That works out to a low 10%. In Quebec there are a total of 21,735 inmates in jails, but only 435 Natives. This works out at a rate of 2%. Even lower is Newfoundland with...