Years of life lost to incarceration: inequities between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians
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BACKGROUND: Aboriginal representation in Canadian correctional institutions has increased rapidly over the past decade. We calculated "years of life lost to incarceration" for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians. METHODS: Incarceration data from provincial databases were used conjointly with demographic data to estimate rates of incarceration and years of life lost to provincial incarceration in (BC) and federal incarceration, by Aboriginal status. We used the Sullivan method to estimate the years of life lost to incarceration. RESULTS: Aboriginal males can expect to spend approximately 3.6 months in federal prison and within BC spend an average of 3.2 months in custody in the provincial penal system. Aboriginal Canadians on average spend more time in custody than their non-Aboriginal counterparts. The ratio of the Aboriginal incarceration rate to the non-Aboriginal incarceration rate ranged from a low of 4.28 in Newfoundland and Labrador to a high of 25.93 in Saskatchewan. Rates of incarceration at the provincial level were highest among Aboriginals in Manitoba with an estimated rate of 1377.6 individuals in prison per 100,000 population (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1311.8-1443.4). CONCLUSIONS: The results indicate substantial differences in life years lost to incarceration for Aboriginal versus non-Aboriginal Canadians. In light of on-going prison expansion in Canada, future research and policy attention should be paid to the public health consequences of incarceration, particularly among Aboriginal Canadians.
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