Impact of Race and Culture Assessment (IRCA)
What is an Impact of Race and Culture Assessment (IRCA)?
IRCAs are reports that are used for Black and other racialized adults and youth at the sentencing stage of the criminal process. IRCAs help judges consider how racism, poverty and discrimination have contributed to a Black or racialized person’s interactions with the justice system, and help the judge decide what the sentence should be. An IRCA may recommend alternatives to incarceration, or it may recommend culturally appropriate accountability measures within a sentence of incarceration.
How does someone get an IRCA?
Black legal aid clients who meet the requirements below can ask their lawyer to obtain funding from LAO to pay the Sentencing and Parole Project to draft an IRCA report. The criteria can also be found on page 25 in the Disbursements Handbook on our website.
Non-Black racialized legal aid clients who meet the requirements below must have a court order before a report can be produced.
The following requirements must be met before LAO can consider authorizing an IRCA report:
The individual self-identifies as Black or as a member of another racialized community.
The individual has a legal aid certificate.
The Crown is seeking a sentence of two years or longer; or
The Crown is seeking a custodial sentence for a young person between 12 and 17
In cases where the court wants a report and you do not fit the LAO criteria, or you do not qualify for a legal aid certificate, the judge may order, or provide an endorsement for, an IRCA. For more information on how to receive public funding for IRCAs in these circumstances, contact LAO at email@example.com.
Who prepares the IRCA?
A social worker trained on anti-racism will work with you to write a report about your personal history for the court.
The social worker’s anti-racism training allows them to get the required information from defendants in a trauma-informed manner. The social worker will then provide the IRCA to the sentencing judge, who will read it and use that information to decide the appropriate sentence for the defendant.
Do I have to pay for an Impact of Race and Culture Assessment (IRCA)?
No. In most cases, LAO pays for IRCAs with funds from the Government of Canada.
Can I choose to pay for an IRCA?
Yes, you may also pay for an IRCA if the court has ordered if you are able to.
Why were IRCAs created?
IRCAs were made to address systemic racism in the criminal justice system. Race can result in many societal and legal disadvantages that can lead to unfair or disproportionately harsh sentencing decisions for Black and other racialized individuals.
IRCAs provide an opportunity for judges to give fairer sentences to Black and other racialized individuals by considering the harmful effects that discrimination and marginalization may have on the judicial process.
Can I get an IRCA if I’m not a legal aid client?
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are not a legal aid client but need information on how to get funding for court-ordered IRCA report.
Charged with a crime that could send you to jail? Going to court without a lawyer? Charged under the Youth Criminal Justice Act?