Handing young aboriginal men and women a stay-out-of-jail card in cases of serious violence is a mistaken answer to the problem of overincarceration of aboriginal people in Canada. It puts one wrong in place of another.

Del Louie, 22, viciously assaulted a 55-year-old Vancouver bus driver named Charles Dixon. After three operations, Mr. Dixon’s face is held together by a plate with four screws. Mr. Louie had been convicted before for assaulting a bus driver.

There is no doubt that the overrepresentation of aboriginal people in provincial and federal jails is a calamity for the country, for aboriginals and for the individuals behind bars. The unprovoked physical assaults on bus drivers and others who work in service jobs hardly compare – unless you happen to be the one driving the bus (150 assaults on Vancouver bus drivers were reported last year). And shouldn’t society protect those who do such jobs?

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