On Saturday, October 24, we launched the Bias behind bars investigation, a two-year inquiry by The Globe’s crime and justice reporter Tom Cardoso, that uncovered systemic bias in Canada’s prison system.
By the following Monday, the investigation sparked unanimous support of MPs from all parties, calling for an independent study on systemic discrimination in federal prisons, including inmate risk assessments.
The Globe’s analysis – the first looking at CSC data on this scale – started with a freedom of information request to the Correctional Service of Canada two years ago. The CSC agreed to release seven years’ worth of entries, from 2012 to 2018, with the final database clocking in at 744,958 rows and 25 columns, documenting the lives of 50,116 people in custody or supervised release (Read more about the methodology here).
Bias behind bars: Risk assessments are used by the Correctional Service of Canada to place, treat and release federal inmates. But, as our two-year investigation found, they're also biased against Black and Indigenous people https://t.co/Kko50XdIC1 #cdnpoli
— Tom Cardoso (@tom_cardoso) October 24, 2020
The immediate impact of the investigation has been clear; it’s made a ripple through government and aims to continue the growing national conversation on systemic racism and bias in Canada’s institutions. Changes to Canada’s criminal justice system still needs much work, but Tom’s reporting has laid down a framework upon which that change can begin.
For a more behind-the-story look at the investigation, watch the Facebook Live video recording with Tom and Dakshana Bascaramurty, Bias behind bars: Live Q&A with reporter Tom Cardoso, and join Tom for a Reddit AMA on November 4 at 12 pm ET.