Decriminalizing Race

The case for investing in community and social support for imprisoned racialized women in Canada
September 3, 2020
610.82 KB30 pages

The COVID-19 infection rate for prisoners in federal penitentiaries is nine times higher than the general infection rate in Canada. Meanwhile, social movements across North America are calling for substantive law enforcement reform and the dismantling of systemic racism. Together, these developments call the prison system into question. 

This report examines the criminalization of racialized women, Canada’s fastest growing prison population. Overpolicing, trauma, poverty, and sex work are key factors in explaining why racialized women are disproportionately jailed for their responses to marginalization. Programs that are supposed to help reintegrate offenders back into the community fail to be relevant to specific populations and issues.

Decriminalizing Race makes the case for focused increased investment in community, health and social services as a much more effective strategy for ensuring safety for all.

Heather Lawson is the 2020 McInturff Fellow at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. The CCPA created the Kate McInturff Fellowship in Gender Justice to honour the legacy of senior researcher Kate McInturff, who passed away in July 2018. Kate was a feminist trailblazer in public policy and gender-based analysis and achieved national acclaim for her research, writing and advocacy. The fellowship supports a paid internship at the CCPA for a student committed to fighting for gender equality through policy research.