‘Indians are the Majority of the Prisoners’? Historical Variations in Incarceration Rates for Indigenous Women and Men in British Columbia

Kris Inwood, Evan Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Indigenous people have experienced relatively high incarceration rates in British Columbia, as elsewhere in North America, since the 1940s. Archival prison records, however, show that the incidence of Indigenous incarceration was lower than for other people before 1910. This evidence implies the crucial period for increasing incarceration of Indigenous peoples in British Columbias was from 1910 to 1940. The pattern for Indigenous women differed from that of men. Large numbers of Indigenous women were imprisoned in the 1870s and 1880s. The British Columbia Indigenous pattern has important similarities to the New Zealand Māori in the same era. Neither Indigenous experience is easily explained by group threat theory used to understand rising incarceration for African-Americans in this period. Indigenous incarceration in settler states prior to the 1950s needs additional comparative research and theoretical understanding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)350-369
Number of pages20
JournalHoward Journal of Crime and Justice
Volume59
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful for financial support for this research from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (file #435-2017-1002) and the Minnesota Population Center (P2C?HD041023), and for insightful comments from Peter Baskerville, John Belshaw, Jean Barman, Ann Carlos, Elizabeth Ewan, Donna Feir, Benjamin Hoy, Boyd Hunter, and Ian Keay.

Keywords

  • British Columbia
  • Canada
  • Indigenous
  • discrimination
  • ethnicity
  • group threat
  • history
  • incarceration
  • prisoners
  • racism

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