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>> A massive race disparity in Ontario jails. Never before published government data shows black people in Canada's most populated province, Ontario, spend longer behind bars awaiting trial than white people charged with the same crimes. Reuters correspondent Anna Miller-Perpeni.>> This matters because Reuters has documented that people in pre-trial are at greater risk of death and violence.
We've also seen that people who are behind bars awaiting trial are more likely to plead guilty in many cases, lawyers say, because they'll do anything just to get out of jail. Reuters found that in Ontario between 2015 and 2016, black people spent almost twice as long in pre-trial detention for weapons offenses, 46% longer for serious violent offenses, and 36% longer on charges of obstructing justice.
Law enforcement experts interviewed by Mailer offer a number of explanations for the racial inequality.>> Black people in Ontario are over represented among people who are poor. And black communities have also been found to be more heavily policed than the average population.>> Both these thing, the poverty and the policing, make it harder to find a surety.
That's a close friend or family member of an accused person who agrees to supervise them to ensure they abide by all the conditions of their bail.>> A surety needs time. They need to be able to take time off work to appear in court, and they need to be able to take time to monitor the accused and check in on them regularly.
They need money. They need to be able to prove that they have assets that they would lose if the accused person breached their bail. Often, they'll need to have a home that the accused person can live in.>> Former prisoner Maurice Downey didn't have anyone to turn to.
>> A lack of sureties, a lack of a stable home. So I couldn't put together a strong plan. This was when I was young. Before I knew what was even required of bail.>> Downey is now out on bail, under a supervision program that requires him to check in regularly to ensure he's adhering to bail conditions.
A spokesman for the Ontario Attorney General says the province quote, takes systemic racism seriously and is working to address racial inequalities. Canada's Supreme Court has also called on prosecutors and justices of the peace to impose less owner risk conditions on bail. That could help. But lawyers say there are deeper issues of discrimination in the policing and justice systems at play.