Race, Child Protection, and Criminal Involvement

Douglas Skoog, University of Winnipeg

Professionals familiar with the criminal justice system can provide abundant anecdotal evidence that a very large proportion of inmates were wards of the child welfare system during their childhood years. Most observers also beleive that members of disadvantaged racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to have been in care. Little empirical evidence is available, however. to show how experiences in non-family care contribute to later criminal activity. Using structured interviews we examine the experience of 50 Aboriginal inmates and 50 White inmnates with respect to the child protection system. Control theory provides a conceptual framework for the research. The results reveal dramatic differences in the extent and quality of care between the two groups,. We argue that differential experiences in care provide a partical explanation for the overrepresentation fo aBoriginal persons in the Canadian correctional system.

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Updated 05/20/2006