Common Questions

What does the judge consider in sentencing an Aboriginal person?

Anybody who thinks of themselves (self-identifies) as Aboriginal has what are called Gladue rights. These rights mean that when making sentencing decisions about an Aboriginal person, a judge must consider the adverse or harmful social conditions that many Aboriginals face. This consideration may, in some cases, lead to a restorative justice remedy(a type of sentencing that tries to follow an Aboriginal view of justice: the focus is on responsibility and healing instead of punishment). An example of this is circle sentencing, when the sentencing judge and appropriate community members meet outside the courtroom to discuss an appropriate sentence for the accused.

Good starting points include:

  • Your Rights: Gladue Rights, from the Legal Services Society, gives an overview of Gladue rights and links to more fact sheets on preparing a Gladue report and what these rights mean for Aboriginal people who have a bail hearing or are being sentenced for a crime.
  • Aboriginal People and Sentencing, from Justice Education Society of BC, explains Aboriginal sentencing and how it considers their special cultural circumstances. It also provides information on how restorative justice may be applied by the law.

See our related common questions:

Last reviewed May 2015

sentencing, Gladue, First Nations Court, criminal court, circle sentencing, restorative justice, Gladue report, Gladue rights