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CLASSIFICATION WITHOUT VALIDITY OR EQUITY: AN EMPIRICAL EXAMINATION OF THE CUSTODY RATING SCALE FOR FEDERALLY SENTENCED WOMEN OFFENDERS IN CANADA
Cheryl Marie Webster
Department of Criminology
University of Ottawa
Anthony N. Doob
Centre of Criminology
University of Toronto
In order to fulfil its legal mandate to assign an initial security classification of minimum, medium or maximum to all federally sentenced women offenders, the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) has used the Custody Rating Scale - an objective, statistical tool - for over a decade. Despite CSC's numerous claims of its validity and the equity of its outcomes, it has been repeatedly suggested that this tool mis-classifies women in general, and Aboriginal women, in particular. This paper extends the (theoretical) debate surrounding the applicability of the Custody Rating Scale for these two sub-groups of the inmate population. By using actual findings published by CSC, this article empirically demonstrates that the overall scale, one of its two sub-scales, as well as many of the individual items making up the classification tool have weak or no predictive validity for Aboriginal and/or Non-Aboriginal women. Further, it provides evidence that the Custody Rating Scale introduces a systematic bias against Aboriginal (relative to Non-Aboriginal) offenders whereby a substantial proportion of these minority women are unjustly over-classified in higher levels of security. This paper concludes with a discussion of several of the broader theoretical and policy implications of these findings.
SAFE STREETS FOR WHOM? HOMELESS YOUTH, SOCIAL EXCLUSION, AND CRIMINAL VICTIMIZATION
Faculty of Education
This article explores the victimization experiences of street youth living in Toronto, Canada. It is argued that street youth are much more likely than domiciled youth to be victims of a broad range of crimes. In particular, young women who are homeless face increased vulnerability to specific forms of violent crime, including sexual assault. The circumstances that produce such high levels of criminal victimization among street youth are myriad and complex. While background variables (a history of violence), lifestyle, and routine activities theories have been used to explain criminal victimization, it is argued here that the conditions that place street youth at risk are connected to their experiences of social exclusion in terms of restricted access to housing, employment, and public spaces.
FOUR MODELS OF VICTIM INVOLVEMENT DURING PLEA NEGOTIATIONS: BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN LEGAL REFORMS AND CURRENT LEGAL PRACTICE
Simon N. Verdun-Jones and Adamira A. Tijerino
School of Criminology
Simon Fraser University
In recent years, there has been a clear trend towards recognizing the right of victims to participate more fully in the criminal justice process. In Canada, significant steps have been taken to ensure that victims are granted the right to participate formally in the sentencing and parole processes through the use of victim-impact statements. However, to date, comparatively little attention has been paid to the question of whether or not victims should be accorded a meaningful role in the process of plea negotiations. In Canada, plea bargaining has not been officially recognized and has not been subjected to judicial supervision. Indeed, plea negotiations occur behind closed doors and victims have no right of participation. In the United States, however, plea agreements require judicial approval and, in certain state jurisdictions, victims are accorded the right of participation in the judicial hearings that are held to determine whether or not a proposed plea agreement should be accepted by the trial court. This article identifies four potential models for the participation of victims in the plea negotiation process in Canada. The recommended model requires that plea negotiations be officially recognized by the Parliament of Canada; that plea negotiations be subjected to judicial regulation; and that victims should be granted the right to make oral or written presentations to the trial judge concerning their opinions about the terms, and ultimate acceptability, of any proposed plea agreement.