Is sentencing different if I’m Black?NewUpdated November 15

1. Give the judge information about anti-Black racism

The rules at a sentencing hearing are not very strict. This means you can give the judge almost any kind of information that helps them make a good decision.

For example, at a sentencing , you can give the judge letters of support that people wrote about you. You can't usually do that during a .

If you're Black, you can also give the judge information about:

  • systemic anti-Black racism, and
  • how you've been personally affected by anti-Black racism.

You can read more about systemic anti-Black racism on the Black Legal Action Centre’s website.

Showing how you’ve been affected

To show how you've been affected by anti-Black racism, you can give the judge a written report created by an expert in racism. The expert first talks to you about your situation and then writes the report to explain how you've been affected by racism.

Some people who work in the court might call this type of report an Impact of Race and Culture Assessment (IRCA). But the specific name of the report does not matter. If you get a similar report with a different name, you can still give the judge your report.

IRCAs and similar reports are not yet commonly used in Ontario. But the Canadian government wants courts to start using these types of reports more often. You can ask your lawyer or about getting an IRCA or similar report.

Rules about an IRCA or a similar report

Your IRCA or similar report should be written by an expert in anti-Black racism. The Sentencing and Parole Project may be able to help you to find an expert to write your report.

The expert is not on your side or on the Crown Attorney’s side. They're neutral. They can only write facts, not opinions.

Your IRCA or similar report should explain what systemic anti-Black racism is, and how you've been personally affected by it.

Another option

If you can't get an IRCA or a similar report for your sentencing hearing, you can give the judge a copy of another report about systemic anti-Black racism. This report is attached to the court’s decision in the R v Morris case. After you click the link, scroll down to the bottom of the webpage to find the report.

The Ontario Court of Appeal, which is the highest court in Ontario, has said that judges in Ontario should read the report in R v Morris.

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