Aboriginal Justice Questions
Question 1: Donald Marshall Jr.
Wrongful convictions are among the mistakes every justice system worldwide tries to avoid. Throughout the justice system histories of the world, various cases of wrongful convictions have arisen, shaking the world to its core; an excellent example is the Canadian case of Donald Marshall Jr. who was wrongly convicted of a murder crime (Turpel, 2000). In most instances of wrongful convictions, various aspects such as the justice system’s failure to analyze essential case details attribute to the situation. For instance, in Donald’s case, the justice system failed him at the beginning; the arresting officers did not perform their duties diligently like questioning witnesses, cordoning off the crime scene, or doing a thorough search of it (Vijaykumar, 2018). Additionally, the investigating officer come up with a conclusion without adequate supporting evidence; also, the investigating officer was unethical because he coached the eyewitnesses on what to say, providing false evidence before the court. The crown prosecutor also attributed to the justice system’s failure because he did not interview the eyewitnesses, who had contradicting accounts of the crime’s occurrence; besides, Donald’s defense counsel failed by not obtaining the witnesses’ statements prior to the court hearing (Vijaykumar, 2018). Hence, the justice system failed Donald Marshall Jr. through the unethical and lack of due diligence exhibited by the arresting and investigating officers, as well as his defense and prosecuting attorneys.
Furthermore, the case caused a major out-roar from the public due to its apparent evidence of racial prejudice. The most clear racism evidence being the all-white jury that convicted Donald Marshall Jr. of murder in 1971 (Turpel, 2000). According to the law, Donald is meant to be judged by a jury consisting of his peers, such as individuals of a similar race, which does not happen. Moreover, the jury decided on their infamous decision based on racial prejudice without adequately analyzing the case’s evidence. Therefore, the primary shred of racism evidence in Marshall’s case is in the court’s proceedings; he was judged by a jury of all white-raced members.
Judicial systematic racism is highly detrimental to the concept of equality meant to be evident during in legal proceedings, such as in the Marshall’s case. Thus, there is a need to establish viable solutions to overcome the problem. Firstly, including practices such as cultural competency trainings, and eliminating racial profiling will aid reduce racial prejudice on the side of the police officers (Hassell, 2019). Moreover, the justice system can opt for community-based alternatives like probation to final court verdicts like incarceration, especially in circumstances whereby the accused has committed misdemeanors. Thirdly, there is a need to increase minority racial groups participation in judicial decision-making processes like establishing parole and re-entry qualifications, such as determining when an offender can be allowed back into the community after being in prison. Hence, these solutions will aid in eradicating racism in the justice system, bringing back the ideology of equality for all, and avoiding potential wrongful convictions based on racial prejudice as was in Marshall’s case.
Question 2: Aboriginal Communities
In Canada, the Aboriginal society is among the vastest minority group. Like most cultural societies that fell to the hands of European contact, they had established gender roles that enable smooth running of the societal system. For instance, men, like in most cultures globally, were responsible for providing living necessities like food, shelter and clothing for their families. Meanwhile, the women were an integral aspect of the government and in spiritual ceremonies. They were also a central aspect of the family, responsible for the household’s welfare like caring for the children; besides, they were also viewed as life-givers in the community (Monture-Angus, 2000). Thus, these responsibilities ensured the Aboriginal community’s survival.
Nonetheless, after the European settlement in the Aboriginal society, the gender roles, particularly for women, were significantly impacted through various ways. Firstly, in the Aboriginal culture, women were constantly viewed as equal to men; however, after the arrival of the Europeans, the aspect of gender equality was torn apart, and the ideology of viewing women as inferior to men began (Monture-Angus, 2000). According to the English law, women held no essential rights, and men were considered to be their superiors socially, legally, and politically. Moreover, women were denied voting, property-owning, or contract-owning rights. The patriarchy notion penetrated into the Aboriginal society, leading to discrimination against women as they lost their once gender equality seats, and ended up being viewed as inferior to their male counterparts.
Additionally, the societal gender roles change affected the contact between the Aboriginal women and the criminal justice system. An excellent example is discrimination seen through an abused woman obtaining police aid after a day or longer than that time, refusing to remove the offender’s if caught in the act (Hamilton & Sinclair, 1999). Also, there is a high number of mentally disabled Aboriginal women in prison due to violence brought about by abuse from men; the criminal justice system does not provide due diligence, convicting mentally disabled women to prison instead of advocating for rehabilitation. Hence, the gender inequality brought about by the European settlements resulted in discrimination in the criminal justice system’s proceedings; an excellent example is the high number of mentally disabled women convicts.
There is a need to solve the gender stereotyping elements in the criminal justice system to ensure equality during court proceedings and when delivering the verdict. One viable solution is increasing the number of women participants in the justice system, such as the police department; the step will ensure decision-making processes are done with women interests being prioritized. As most Aboriginal women suffer from abuse and do not gain appropriate legal assistance, such as incrimination of their offenders; the gaps and irregularities during investigations should be filled, and anyone caught interfering with the due process should be dealt with according to the rules. Thus, viable solutions like increasing the number of women representatives in the criminal justice system will ensure equal treatment for the Aboriginal women.
Question 3: The Residential School System
When the Europeans settled within the Aboriginal community, they brought out various calamities. An excellent example is the residential school system; also referred to as the Indian residential school system as it was an extensive schooling system with the objective of educating Aboriginal children (Wilk, Maltby, & Cooke, 2017). The school system was designed by the Canadian government, and it was overseen by the churches. Besides, the school systems’ primary objective was assimilating the Aboriginal children into the dominant culture; the European settlers in the community aimed to introduce their way of life because they saw it as the pinnacle of human achievements globally. The residential school system procedures included removing the Aboriginal children, and isolating their cultural backgrounds influenced by their families, friends or community.
As a result, the Indian residential school system has affected the Aboriginal children, families and society through various ways. Firstly, it significantly harmed the Aboriginal children because they were removed from their family settings, forced into enfranchisement through assimilation, they were exposed to physical and sexual abuses, as well as depriving them of being proud Aboriginal members by removing their cultural language (Wilk, Maltby, & Cooke, 2017). Additionally, the boarding school section affects the Aboriginal family structure by depriving them of their offspring, having children with little to no parenting skills, and an eruption of family violence leading to family breakdowns. Meanwhile, on the societal level, the Indian residential school systems negatively impacted the Aboriginal culture by eradicating its ancestral language, and brought about a rise in social problems like unemployment because of poor education, alcoholism, substance abuse, and extreme levels of violence. Thus, the Indian residential school systems resulted in negative impacts on the students, families, teachers, and community.
Furthermore, in the Canadian criminal justice system, the indigenous societal members have continually been over-represented. The idea of over-representation is established to ensure reconciliation is achieved through establishing the truth. There are many reasons behind the ideology of over-presentation, with the Indian residential school system as an excellent example. It is fair to state that the notion brought about over-representation of the Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system because it exhibited some of the reasons behind over-representation. For instance, over-representation occurs due to negative impacts on the indigenous tribes like cultural alienation, intergenerational trauma evident in the notion’s policies, socio-economic marginalization, and discrimination (Reasons et al., 2016). Hence, it is accurate to state that the notion of Indian residential school system has attributed to the over-representation of the Aboriginal indigenous people in the criminal system.