The B.C. justice system should be at the top of the political agenda, a lawyers’ organization says. (Mike Laanela/CBC)
A new report card on provincial and territorial justice systems in Canada has found that British Columbia has some of the most disproportionately high rates of Indigenous incarcerations and the lowest rates of solving crime in the country.
The "justice report card" from the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, an Ottawa-based think tank, ranked B.C. 10 out of the 13 provinces and territories, ahead of only Manitoba, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories.
The study analyzed 2016 data from Statistics Canada and used quantitative research methods to assess the following issues: public safety, victim support, costs and resources, fairness and access to justice and efficiency.
The report found the justice system in B.C. "significantly underperforms that of most other provinces on many measures." Solving crime and Indigenous incarcerations
It found nationally, police forces are solving less non-violent crime, but B.C. stands out from the pack.
"British Columbia actually received a failing grade for solving just about half of violent crimes, and just about one in five non-violent crimes gets resolved by the police," said Benjamin Perrin, a UBC law professor and a Monk senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute.
"It’s not an exaggeration to say that if you’re the victim of a crime in British Columbia, the chances of that crime actually being resolved are the lowest of anywhere in the whole country."
Perrin says B.C. also has one of the most disproportionately high rates of Indigenous incarcerations in the country. He added the province has relatively low criminal legal aid expenditures per 1,000 crimes.
"When you combine these two things — that we’re providing less criminal legal aid, and we’re imprisoning disproportionately more Indigenous people — that’s a really concerning combination," aid Perrin. Where B.C. is strong
Perrin said it’s not all bad news when it comes to B.C.’s justice system. He said the province has made strides in recent years to address efficiency, and that is reflected in the data.
"We actually see that court cases get resolved more quickly here than in many other parts of the country. We have fewer cases that get stayed or withdrawn," said Perrin.
Perrin said he’s like to see that same effort put into addressing the issues of Indigenous incarcerations and solving cases of both violent and non-violent crimes.
"We really hope that this report card will spur those tough questions of how can this happen, what’s being down and who is being held accountable."
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