By Tamara Khandaker

Vice News Canada

Defense lawyers in Ontario want to start pushing judges to consider how systemic racism may have contributed to the criminal activity of black offenders they are sentencing.

Image courtesy of CBC News

While courts in the province have long recognized the relevance of race and racism when meting out punishment, what has been lacking is a specific mechanism to deal with the issue, argued Wayne van der Meide, a regional manager for Legal Aid Ontario.

The proposed cultural assessment — much like the Gladue report that judges, defense lawyers and Crown counsel can request when sentencing Aboriginal offenders —  would give judges expert evidence on how the person’s environment, as well as the history of racism in Canada, may have contributed to his or her criminal activity.

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