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Racial Profiling Within The Canadian Justice System & Law Enforcement

Grace Silva

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Douglas College





























                       Over the decades, the Canadian Justice System and Law enforcement agencies have chosen to move forward with the endorsement of a procedure known as “Racial Profiling” in order to prevent the failing procedure known before that. While Canada is well known for being one of the most multicultural nations across the globe and one of the most respected, our choices within these systems and procedures sometimes drift pass the communities of our nation unknowingly. As Canadians, we tend to trust our government and justice system as is, bringing about an unaware society. As a result of this change, situations have arisen within the Criminal Justice System and Law Enforcement regarding racial issues as there is in any day to day situations we come across as a society. 





                     The most commonly known excuse given by the agencies mentioned above for the use of “Racial Profiling” is that the specific outcome associated with racial profiling would be a successful way to approach the crime in Canada as of today (Siavash V, 2017, Par. 2). There are many challenges as of now in the Criminal Justice System, but the main ones focused on is the skyrocketing rate of crime and victimization in the Aboriginal communities (Beer, 2017). An example given of this issue would be how, According to Bempah (2013), In the Canadian Correctional Institutions, “Aboriginal and Black Canadians are grossly overrepresented.” (p.1). Unfortunately, Canadian history involves a lot of violence towards Aboriginals and that has left a majority of their population on reserves without jobs and/or education which leads to a criminal or destructive lifestyle.  In addition to this, the Canadian Justice System and Law enforcement has been shown to support this new procedure. Bempah (2013) goes on to say, that within these systems “Evidence indicates that a racial bias exists. At times, this discrimination has been supported by court decisions” (p.1). Proving that racial profiling in Canada is supported and not discredited by these systems. Wilbanks (1987) proves this by stating “Although the case processing system generally treated offenders similarly . . . we found racial differences at two key points: Minority suspects were more likely than whites to be released after arrest; however, after a felony conviction, minority offenders were more likely than whites to be given longer sentences and to be put in prison instead of jail” (p. 68).




                  In regards to crime data and statistics on the race of an offender, it would help Law Enforcement and the Criminal Justice System should they need the information on the race of a past offender or someone who is currently one. Quan (2012) cited Bempah when stating “Police services are mandated to provide equitable services. Without race-based data, we cannot tell if this is being done or not,”. This is an example given by another individual on why it would be more of a positive on acquiring race-based data when confronting an offender or past offender. “Although the race or ethnicity part of a police report could possibly help future re-offenders, it is apparent that many Canadian police agencies actively suppress racial data when delivering their annual crime reports” (Par. 1).  Many Law Enforcement officers make mistakes when doing this. As humans, we naturally stereotype. As Devlin (2016) expressed, “The study found that the brain responds more strongly to information about groups who are portrayed unfavourably, adding weight to the view that the negative depiction of ethnic or religious minorities in the media can fuel racial bias”. (Par. 2) This is one of many examples, and as a police officer, you will naturally spot out the minority groups if and when stereotyping. The whole concept of racial profiling and stereotyping is more natural then people think.




                      While there are many examples of the disadvantages in collecting information regarding an offenders race or ethnicity and practicing racial profiling, there are also some advantages when used correctly. If we use stereotypes as a basic example of racial profiling, Schuck (2012) states “The advantage of stereotypes is that they economize on information, enabling us to choose quickly when our information is inadequate”. Now, In Law Enforcement and the Criminal Justice System there will be a use of the basic “Stereotype” procedure when doing that job. Stereotypes will help police officers when making snap decisions, same within the Criminal Justice System putting it that way. Although there is pros to using it, whether or not it helps those agencies its all around wrong and goes against our Charter. There is more disadvantages than advantages. As Bahdi (2010) states, “Race does not operate as a neutral factor in decision-making. When race and religion form part of the assessment, they eventually overtake other characteristics as part of the purported risk assessment. Instead of remaining one factor among a multitude of factors, race or religion becomes the lens through which all other information is filtered and understood”.