Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 January 2013
Race and racism have long played an important role in Canadian law and continue to do so. However, conducting research on race and criminal justice in Canada is difficult given the lack of readily available data that include information about race. We show that data on the race of victims and accused persons are being suppressed by police organizations in Canada and argue that suppression of race prevents quantitative anti-racism research while not preventing the use of these data by the police for racial profiling. We also argue that when powerful institutions, such as the police, have knowledge that they keep secret or refuse to discover, it serves the interests of those institutions at the expense of the public. Fears that reporting of racial data will result in racial profiling or the stigmatization of racialized communities are not assuaged by the repression of this information. Stigmatization may still occur, and racial profiling can continue to happen, but without public knowledge. Quantitative anti-racist research requires consistent, institutionalized reporting of race data through all aspects of Canadian justice. We outline what data are available, what data are needed, and where consistency is lacking. It is argued that institutional preferences for white-washed data, with race and ethnicity removed, should be subrogated to transparency.
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13 We are not alone in calling for these data and their disclosure. See, e.g., Wortley, “A Northern Taboo”; Mosher, “Minorities and Misdemeanours”; Kong and Beattie, Collecting Data on Aboriginal People in the Criminal Justice System.
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15 The socially constructed nature of the concept of race makes it subject to ontological challenges. Yet it is clear that it has important social and criminal justice consequences. In terms of crime, race has been shown to be socially predictive and biologically non-determinative. In other words, it matters in criminal justice, but it should not.
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21 Called Public Use Micro-Files (PUMFs) by Statistics Canada.
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