A Culturally-Informed Examination of Risk Factors for Crime among Indigenous Peoples

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Ashley Kyne


Indigenous Peoples represent 4.5% of the Canadian adult population, but 26.3% of new admissions to federal prison. There is a similar overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples in the criminal justice system in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand (with conviction or incarceration rates ranging from three to ten times higher than non-Indigenous people). Although the culture and experiences of Indigenous groups vary widely between (and within) these countries, these countries all face similar challenges in terms of promoting reconciliation and learning how to maximize the fairness and effectiveness of a European-imposed criminal justice system not necessarily suited to Indigenous histories, culture, language, and conceptions of justice.
I propose exploring risk factors for crime among 300 Indigenous individuals. Specifically, I have developed a culturally-informed questionnaire whose questions will focus on issues unique/disproportionate to Indigenous experiences.
With 300 participants, I hope to obtain at least 100 participants in our two target groups: with and without a criminal record (additional participants will boost sample size for subtypes of criminal behaviour, such as violent crime). Participants will be primarily recruited from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Analyses will explore correlates of criminal involvement among Indigenous populations, with a particular focus on culturally-informed risk factors.
The methodology and recruitment strategy for this study will involve considerable attention to decolonizing methodologies, consultation with Indigenous scholars and stakeholders, and data collection practices that will demonstrate respect, reconciliation, and potential for transformation in our relationships with Indigenous Peoples.

Faculty Supervisor: Dr. Maaike Helmus, School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University

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Assessing and Responding to Risk