04/26/2016 15:36 EDT | Updated 04/27/2017 01:12 EDT

Aboriginals overrepresented in youth justice system; data

OTTAWA — Figures from the Justice Department paint a dark picture of the state of indigenous incarceration, with aboriginals seriously overrepresented in the youth criminal justice system

Data recently provided by the department to brief Justice Minister Jody Wilson Raybould says indigenous youth account for only seven per cent of the overall population, but make up 41 per cent of those entering the justice system.

The documents, obtained by The Canadian Press, also say the problem has ballooned over the last decade and point to bias in the policing, justice and corrections systems.

Correctional Investigator Howard Sapers calls the figures atrocious and says they reflect systemic failures.

Murray Sinclair, the former chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and now a senator, says the child-welfare system is also connected to the alarming number of aboriginals who end up behind bars.

He says indigenous children continue to be apprehended on the basis that families cannot be trusted, but says the system often fails to place children in safe environments.

The Canadian Press