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Black people are overrepresented in Ontario’s jails

Black people are substantially overrepresented in provincial correctional facilities in Ontario, according to a study recently published in Race and Justice.

Researchers from the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, ICES, and McMaster University used population-based data for 45,956 males and 6,357 females who were in custody in provincial correctional facilities in Ontario in 2010 to explore the overrepresentation of Black people.

The study found that compared with White people, Black males were 5.3 times as likely and Black females were 2.7 times as likely to be incarcerated in 2010.

“This research shows that a very large proportion of Black males in Ontario experience incarceration each year, with 1 in 14 Black males aged 18 to 34 having spent any time in a provincial correctional facility during 2010,” says Fiona Kouyoumdjian, senior author and assistant professor in McMaster’s Department of Family Medicine.

“The factors that result in racially disparate correctional outcomes are complex, including systemic racism and various forms of structural inequality”, said Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, first author and assistant professor of sociology at the University of Toronto.

This study helps to fill an important knowledge gap in Canada on incarceration rates by race, which are an important indicator of inequity. The researchers say the findings indicate the need to advance evidence-based action to address systemic racism and to prevent exposure to criminogenic factors for Black people.

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