Validity of prison tests called into question
A Métis man who has been incarcerated in Canada for more than 30 years feels he may finally have a fair shot at parole and escorted temporary absences from prison after a Supreme Court of Canada decision Wednesday threw a wrench in Correctional Services Canada’s use of statistical risk assessment tools, concluding the practice may discriminate against Indigenous inmates.
Jeffrey Ewert, who was raised in Surrey, is serving two concurrent life sentences for second-degree murder, attempted murder and escape from custody.
As is procedure for Canadian inmates, he participated in a number of “risk assessment” tests administered by Correctional Services Canada when his incarceration began.
Those tests included the Hare Psychopathy Checklist (PCLR) and the Static-99 test for sex offenders, which are designed to predict an inmate’s risk to public safety based on personal characteristics and crime history.
The tests are used to help Correctional Services determine things like whether the inmate should go to minimum, medium or maximum security prison, and when they are eligible for parole.
But the validity of using those tools to predict risk for Indigenous offenders has been in question for decades, largely because of a lack of research testing their applicability among Indigenous inmates, whose representation in adult federal prisons was nine times that of their representation in the public in 2014-2015.
With files from
The Canadian Press
The high court accepts Jeffrey Ewert’s challenge of assessment techniques.