Partnership grant funds national research aimed at reforming Canada’s justice system

U of A sociologist leads expert team that will examine systemic problems and make evidence-based recommendations for improvement.

Sandra Bucerius

Sociologist Sandra Bucerius leads a team that will examine systemic problems across criminal justice institutions in Canada and make evidence-based recommendations for reform. (Photo: John Ulan)

A research team led by a University of Alberta scholar has received nearly $2.5 million in new federal funding for a national research project aimed at reforming the Canadian justice system.

The team, headed by sociologist Sandra Bucerius and including the United Way and academic experts on the court and prison systems from across Canada, was awarded a Partnership Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada to examine systemic problems across criminal justice institutions.

“When you look at the media, the focus is mostly on police,” says Bucerius, director of the Centre for Criminological Research. “But we try to approach criminal justice as a system composed of interconnected subsystems, which include police, the courts, correctional facilities and reintegration into the community.”

The team will examine how each element of the justice system contributes both separately and together to marginalization of populations such as Indigenous peoples, impoverished Canadians, Black Canadians and the LGBTQ2S community to create a “cumulative disadvantage in the Canadian justice system,” she says.

Most criminologists study only one institution rather than looking at how the systems connect, she adds.

“We look at the over-representation of Indigenous prisoners, for example, but it really starts much earlier than that. Who is getting picked up by police, and who gets processed through the court system? Why do people come back?”

She points out that 50 per cent of female prisoners in Canada are Indigenous, a figure that rises to 76 per cent in the Edmonton Institution for Women.

Starting with an examination of Alberta and Ontario and followed by Quebec, the research will address “long-simmering concerns about police violence, pains of imprisonment, gendered and racial victimization and the denial of fundamental civil liberties,” says Bucerius.

One of the project’s main goals will be to provide evidence-based recommendations for reform. Other U of A scholars included in the partnership grant include sociologists Jana Grekul, Temitope Oriola, Kevin Haggerty and Justin Tetrault.

The Partnership Grants awarded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada are meant to “advance knowledge and understanding on critical issues of intellectual, social, economic and cultural significance.”

More SSHRC grant recipients from U of A

The following researchers also received new funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to support a diverse range of projects.

Partnership Grants

Philomina Okeke-Ihejirika (Arts)
I am because we are: Amplifying sub-Saharan African immigrants’ resilience and ability to thrive
$2,481,825

Partnership Development Grants

Lauren Sulz (Education)
Creating a common vision for health education in Canada
$194,350

Aid to Scholarly Journals Grants

Odile Cisneros (Arts)
Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hispanicos (RCEH)
$88,537

Martha Cleveland-Innes (Education)
Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology/La revue canadienne de l'apprentissage et de la technologie
$69,750

Anna Kirova (Education)
Alberta Journal of Educational Research
$88,200

Irene Sywenky (Arts)
Canadian Review of Comparative Literature/Revue Canadienne de Littérature Comparée
$102,500

Insight Grants

Brandon Alakas (Augustana)
The readers' reformation: women's literacy, private devotion, and Richard Whitford's spiritual instruction
$89,978 

Efstathios Avdis (Business)
Financial markets, information extraction, and artificial intelligence
$141,000

Adelina Barbalau (Business)
Financing the transition to a sustainable economy: theory and evidence
$99,251

Sarah Carter (Arts)
Who Owns the Prairies? A History of the Land, 1871-2021
$91,688 

Lia Daniels (Education)
Reorienting assessment practices in higher education: Prioritizing student well-being through motivation theory
$277,831 

Debra Davidson (Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences)
EMOTIONAL pathways to climate action
$345,971

Nicole Denier (Arts)
Algorithmic and intersectional? Gender, race, and automation in hiring processes
$100,311

Sara Dorow (Arts)
Work-life in Canada: portraits of continuity and change in the meaning of work
$398,529 

William Foster (Augustana)
Commemoration and Indigenous organizing
$280,422

Danielle Fuller (Arts)
Reading for our lives: Readers, memoir, social media
$179,086

Cindy Gaudet (Campus Saint-Jean)
Centering Indigenous women's wellness governance in the academy: Interrupting hyperproductivity burnout
$399,861

Timothy Hannigan (Business)
The emerging blockchain entrepreneurship field
$269,169

Dip Kapoor (Education)
Learning in precarious migrant worker (PMW) organizing: Global trails to Canada
$300,799

Beverly Lemire (Arts)
Fashioning the Imperial Atlantic: Race, Gender, and Material Culture, c. 1660-1820
$99,569 

Xiaoting Li (Arts)
How do Mandarin speakers get others to do things? The directive system in Mandarin interaction
$351,616

Temitope Oriola (Arts)
Race, gender, sexuality and student security: The School Resource Officer (SRO) program in Canada
$285,958 

Johanne Paradis (Arts)
Bilingual development in children with special education needs: Minority and majority language contexts
$367,845 

Chris Reyns (Arts)
Au-delà des 2 solitudes dans le monde canadien des BD/Beyond the 2 solitudes in the Canadian world of comics
$68,768

Victoria Ruetalo (Arts)
Hot flicks in the Cold War
$96,919

Barry Scholnick (Business)
Banks and their debtors
$149,500

Scott Smallwood (Arts)
Audio games and music composition
$238,400

Benjamin Tucker (Arts)
Wazaat? aging and spontaneous speech
$306,927 

Christine Wiesenthal (Arts)
Underground Berlin Underground: A research-creation program in documentary/investigative poetics
$79,653