Despite the renewed focus towards making reparations for the injustices committed against Indigenous people, the government’s macro-approach has not yet trickled down into one area where Indigenous people face significant hardship: the criminal justice system.
Jonathan Rudin’s Indigenous People and the Criminal Justice System: A Practitioner’s Handbook provides essential cultural, legal, and societal insight into the adversities facing Indigenous people in the criminal justice system.
This handbook begins with a quasi-guide for defence counsel navigating solicitor-client relationships with Indigenous accuseds, while also recognizing the role Crowns and Judges have in preventing the inherent disadvantages that many accuseds face. The book goes on to narrate the evolution of the criminal law as it relates to Indigenous People, and how seminal cases such as Gladue and Ipeelee have changed the landscape of sentencing (and more) for Indigenous people.
This book covers a number of specific topics ranging from inquiries and commissions into the adversity Indigenous people face in the criminal justice system, to incorporating Indigenous cultural practices in the legal system, sentencing circles, and Indigenous courts.
Concepts of Indigenous “identity”
Concepts of Indigenous “identity” are braided throughout this book. Indigenous identity is discussed in Chapter 3, a chapter dedicated to the best practices for Indigenous people in the legal context. The concept comes full circle later in the book as Rudin discusses how Indigenous identity interrelates with Gladue principles. This book underscores that the justice system often forces Indigenous people to prove their identity in ways that are not required of Canadians with different heritages and backgrounds.
Rudin takes the reader through the evolution of the criminal and sentencing laws, while making a conscious effort to describe the origins of the case and the circumstances of the accused. The author charts the course of several landmark cases, such as Gladue and Ipeelee, to inform the reader of the current state of the law. In the following chapter, he takes the seminal case of Gladue and discusses its application in the sentencing of Indigenous people.