Section 84 was introduced by the Correctional Service of Canada in 1992 to address the overrepresentation of Aboriginal peoples in federal prisons in Canada. The intent of Section 84 is to collaborate with Aboriginal communities and offenders in the prerelease planning for Aboriginal offenders. The outcome of this collaboration may include the transfer of care and custody of the offender to his/her Aboriginal community with the ultimate goal of increasing positive outcomes for Aboriginal offenders and communities. Little is known, however, about how Section 84 is used in First Nations communities across Canada. The purpose of this study is to understand the contextual barriers and catalysts to implementing Section 84. Using trained facilitators we conducted three contiguous two-hour focus groups in November 2010 with participants involved in the Section 84 process across three major geographic regions in Alberta: central (n=21), northern (n=40) and southern (n=25). We audio-recorded, transcribed and thematically analyzed the focus group discussions. In this article we discuss each of the five themes: (1) barriers to Section 84 implementation; (2) facilitators of Section 84 implementation; (3) role of the community in implementing Section 84; (4) the concern for victims of criminal behaviours; (5) successes and hope for Section 84, and conclude with recommendations for reform to enhance the effective implementation of Section 84.
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