Conflictual Justice: The Probationary Supervision of Indigenous Offenders in Northeastern Ontario
This thesis explores the probationary supervision of Indigenous offenders in Northeastern Ontario through semi-structured interviews with four recently retired probation officers, and one Institutional Elder. Thematic analyses revealed three interlocking findings. First, probationary work requires foresight and situational awareness to balance competing conceptions of criminal justice that foreground policy, namely a balance between enforcement and offender rehabilitation. Second, establishing trust with Indigenous offenders is particularly challenging given a lengthy history of colonial assimilation, cultural destruction, and social marginalization - often situated within racial and cultural prejudices evident within Canada's criminal justice system. Probation officer's work with Indigenous offenders situates within a broader socio-political environment that attempts to contextualize the unique circumstances of Indigenous offenders that is suggestive of a turn towards reconciliation through a recognition of the hardships of Indigenous peoples. Lastly, these efforts fall short, as the Canadian state's appeal to reconciliation is ambivalent in the sense that it bounds Indigeneity within the settler-state's system of rules. Within this process, probation officers in Northeastern Ontario - despite their noble intentions - are limited by a lack of Ministry services, and community resources. Within this location, Indigenous and non-Indigenous offenders alike do not receive the resources they need for rehabilitation in areas such as substance abuse, and ultimately is contributing to a cycle of criminality, particular within Indigenous populations, that exposes the ambivalence of the state. The results of this thesis suggest that perhaps an insurmountable cultural incongruity exists within the probationary process, and by extension the criminal justice system, wherein the needs of Indigenous offenders are not met within a colonial system that appears alien and repressive.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/26356
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