Multiple Sentencing Considerations

Multiple sentencing considerations, areas and outcomes are impacted by the offender’s family and social functioning. In short, how the offender functions within their family and social arena is a critical component in any consideration of sentencing.

Family functioning is defined as the way in which the family members interact, react to, and treat other family members; It includes variables within the family such as communication styles, traditions, clear roles and boundaries, and the degree of fusion, flexibility, adaptation, and resilience (Winek, 20101).

Social functioning has been indicated as meaning the ability of the individual to interact in the normal or usual way in society.  CAUTION, most definitions of social functioning are based on the perspective of the dominant – non-aboriginal – culture.  Aboriginal Justice Workers will need to present information to the court regarding the aboriginal worldview as to functioning within aboriginal culture.

Aboriginal culture is multifaceted and there is an inclination to overgeneralize the culture and values and thus it is difficult to present a realistic portrayal of contemporary Canadian Aboriginal life. This issue is connected with the discussion around different world views. When one compares similarities it appears that Aboriginals have adopted dominant middle-class values while still taking pride in their ethnic culture and clinging to traditional patterns of a way of life long gone. Yet, there are many differences in Aboriginal behaviour, attitudes and values3  – i.e., worldview4.

Across and within cultures people share similar aspects of life, e.g., cultural beliefs, practices and impact of basic human needs influence all individuals life satisfaction Brown, Schalock, and Brown (2009)5.