Adult correctional statistics in Canada, 2010/2011

By Mia Dauvergne

The article "Adult correctional statistics in Canada, 2010/2011" was updated October 12th, 2012. The change affects Prince Edward Island data in chart 7. The report was revised December 21st, 2012 as a result of receiving revised data from a jurisdiction post-release and a data capture error that was discovered during this update. These revisions affect data in Table 5 and Text Box 2.

In Canada, the administration of adult correctional services, namely custody and community supervision, is a shared responsibility between the federal and provincial/territorial governments. In general, the federal system has jurisdiction over adult offenders (18 years and over) serving custody sentences of two years or more as well as offenders on conditional release in the community (e.g., on parole or statutory release).Note 1 The provincial/territorial system has jurisdiction over adult offenders serving custody sentences that are less than two years, those who are being held while awaiting trial or sentencing (remand), as well as offenders serving community sentences, such as probation.

Using data from the Adult Correctional Services Survey, the adult portion of the Integrated Correctional Services Survey and the Key Indicator Report for Adults, this Juristat article presents information on adults in custody and under community supervision in Canada.Note 2 Short- and long-term trends are explored at both the national and provincial/territorial levels. As well, the characteristics of adults in the correctional system (such as their age, sex and Aboriginal identity) are discussed.

This article uses two complementary measures to describe the use of correctional services: average counts and admissions. Average counts provide a snapshot of the correctional population and are used to represent the number of individuals in custody or under community supervision on any given day. Unless otherwise noted, rates of adults in the correctional system are based on average counts. Admissions data, on the other hand, are collected each time a person begins a custody or community program and are used to describe the characteristics of offenders in correctional services.

It is important to note that, in some years, there are certain provinces or territories that were unable to report complete data. Where appropriate, gaps in reporting are noted accordingly.Note 3

Rate of adults in the correctional system declines slightly in 2010/2011

In 2010/2011, there were, on average, about 163,000 adult offenders (18 years or over) in Canada's correctional system on any given day (Table 1).Note 4 Although the number of offenders was about 950 more than in 2009/2010, after controlling for population changes, the rate (616 offenders per 100,000 adults) was about 1% lower than the previous year.Note 5 The rate of adults under correctional supervision was nearly 7% lower than a decade ago, with most of the decline occurring between 2002/2003 and 2004/2005 (Chart 1).Note 6

The total correctional population consists of offenders who are supervised in the community combined with those in a provincial, territorial or federal custodial facility. As has been the case historically, the majority (77%) of adults under correctional supervision in 2010/2011 were in the community, usually on probation, and about one-quarter (23%) were incarcerated.Note 7

The overall decline in the rate of the correctional population over the past 10 years was driven primarily by a decrease in the rate of adults under community supervision, down by 10% since 2000/2001.Note 8 In contrast, the rate of adults in custody rose 5% over the same period.Note 9

Chart 1
Average counts of adults under community supervision and in custody, Canada, 1980/1981 to 2010/2011

Data table for chart 1

Chart 1 Average counts of adults under community supervision  and in custody, Canada, 1980/1981 to 2010/2011

1. Includes adult offenders under provincial and federal community supervision. Due to the unavailability of data for certain years, the following jurisdictions have been removed in order to make comparisons over time: Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
2. Includes adult offenders in provincial and federal custody. Due to the unavailability of data for certain years, the following jurisdictions have been removed in order to make comparisons over time: Prince Edward Island and Nunavut.
Note: Counts are based on the average number of adults under community supervision and in custody on any given day. Rates are calculated per 100,000 adult population (18 years and over) using revised July 1st population estimates from Statistics Canada, Demography Division. Rates may not match those previously published in other reports.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Corrections Key Indicator Report for Adults.

One of the main factors that can affect the average daily count of offenders in correctional services is the rate of admissions. As stated previously, an admission is counted each time a person enters custody or a community supervision program. As such, the same person can be counted several times while moving from one type of legal status to another (e.g., from remand to sentenced custody to community supervision) or by re-entering the system in the same year. Excluding British Columbia and Nunavut, there were about 332,000 adult admissions to correctional services in 2010/2011 (Table 2). This represents a 3% decrease in the rate of admissions per 100,000 adult population since 2009/2010 and a 5% drop since 2000/2001.Note 10, Note 11

Quebec reports lowest rate of adults in correctional services

Rates of adult offenders in the correctional system are not uniform across the country (Table 3, Chart 2). Among the provinces, for example, the 2010/2011 rate was lowest in Quebec (303 per 100,000 adults) at about one-half the overall average (616) and well below the rates in Manitoba (953), Saskatchewan (890) and Prince Edward Island (825).Note 12 The rates in the territories were substantially higher than elsewhere in Canada.

Chart 2
Average counts of adults in correctional services, by jurisdiction, 2010/2011

Data table for chart 2

Chart 2 Average counts of adults in correctional services, by  jurisdiction, 2010/2011

1. Excludes Nova Scotia due to the unavailability of 2010/2011 data on adult offenders under community supervision.
Note: Counts are based on the average number of adults in provincial/territorial and federal custody on any given day. Rates are calculated per 100,000 adult population (18 years and over) using revised July 1st population estimates from Statistics Canada, Demography Division. Rates may not match those previously published in other reports.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Corrections Key Indicator Report for Adults.

With the exception of Prince Edward Island, these findings are generally consistent with the pattern for police-reported crime rates. In 2011, Quebec reported the second-lowest crime rate while the territories, followed by Saskatchewan and Manitoba, reported the highest crime rates (Brennan 2012).

In addition, the overall decline in the rate of the correctional population since 2000/2001 has not occurred in every province and territory. Despite Quebec having the lowest rate of adult offenders in 2010/2011, this province recorded the largest increase from 10 years ago, up by 18%. Prince Edward Island (+11%) and Saskatchewan (+11%) also experienced increases in their rates of adults in correctional services over the past decade. In contrast, Yukon (-34%), Newfoundland and Labrador (-21%) and British Columbia (-19%) recorded the largest drops.Note 13

Canada's incarceration rate increases slightly in 2010/2011

Canada's custodial population is composed of two main categories: sentenced custody and remand.Note 14 Those in sentenced custody refer to offenders found guilty of a crime and who are detained, either in a federal (sentences of 2 years or more) or a provincial/territorial (less than 2 years) facility. Remand, on the other hand, is a type of court-ordered temporary detention for those awaiting trial, sentencing or the commencement of a custodial sentence. As with adults sentenced to less than 2 years in prison, those in remand are generally held in provincial or territorial facilities.

In 2010/2011, there were about 38,000 offenders in custody on any given day (Table 4). Of these, 36% were serving a federal sentence, 29% were serving a provincial sentence and 34% were being held on remand. Less than 1% of adults in custody were on another type of temporary detainment, such as an immigration hold or a parole suspension.

The adult incarceration rate is based on the average daily number of adults in sentenced custody, remand or other temporary detention in Canada. At 140 per 100,000 population, Canada's 2010/2011 adult incarceration rate was 1% higher than the year before and 5% higher than a decade earlier.Note 15 The overall increase in the incarceration rate stemmed primarily from the rate of remand, up 52% between 2000/2001 and 2010/2011. While the 2010/2011 rates of both federal and provincial/territorial sentenced custody increased from the year before, both rates declined over the 10-year period, down 6% and 12%, respectively.

Text box 1
International incarceration rates

Incarceration rates vary considerably around the world. Recent statistics from the International Centre for Prison Studies (ICPS) show that, among the 34 member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Canada's incarceration rate ranks in the middle. Data from the ICPS show that the United States has the highest incarceration rate, at more than double the next highest nation. Canada's rate was about one-sixth that of the United States, but higher than that of many European countries of similar social and economic development.

Text box 1 table
International incarceration rates, OECD countries
Table summary
This table displays the results of international incarceration rates. The information is grouped by country (appearing as row headers), incarceration rate (appearing as column headers).
Country Incarceration rateText box table 1, note 1
United States 730
Chile 295
Estonia 252
Israel 236
Czech Republic 223
Poland 222
Slovakia 203
Mexico 201
New Zealand 190
Hungary 173
Turkey 168
United Kingdom (England and Wales) 154
Spain 153
Australia 129
Portugal 126
Luxembourg 124
Canada 117
Greece 111
Italy 109
Austria 104
France 101
Belgium 100
Republic of Ireland 98
Republic of (South) Korea 96
Netherlands 87
Germany 83
Switzerland 76
Denmark 74
Norway 73
Sweden 70
Slovenia 64
Finland 59
Japan 55
Iceland 47
1. Figures represent the most recent information available from the International Centre for Prison Studies as of July 2012. (www.prisonstudies.org/info/worldbrief). Rates are based on the total number of incarcerated offenders (including youth) and are calculated per 100,000 population. Given that the incarceration rate for Canada in this table includes youth and is calculated based on the total population, it will not match figures found elsewhere in this report.
Note: Methodologies used to count incarcerated offenders may differ between countries, therefore, data are presented for information purposes only and any comparisons should be made with caution. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) consists of 34 member states whose mission is to promote policies to improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.
Source: Walmsley, R. World Prison Brief, International Centre for Prison Studies.

End of text box 1.

Manitoba reports highest incarceration rate among the provinces

As has been the case since recording began in 1978, the 2010/2011 incarceration rates in the territories, particularly the Northwest Territories, were above those in the provinces (Table 4).Note 16 Among the provinces, Manitoba reported the highest rate of incarceration at 213 per 100,000 adult population, more than double the provincial/territorial average of 90 (Chart 3).

The high rate in Manitoba was largely due to the relatively high rate of adults in remand. When comparing only the sentenced custody population, Saskatchewan's rate was well above that for Manitoba (124 and 76, respectively). In contrast, Nova Scotia recorded the lowest rate of adults in custody, consistent with findings over the past 20 years.

Chart 3
Average counts of adults in custody (incarceration rates), by province, 2010/2011

Data table for chart 3

Chart 3 Average  counts of adults in custody (incarceration rates), by province, 2010/2011

Note: Counts are based on the average number of adults in provincial/territorial custody on any given day. Rates are calculated per 100,000 adult population (18 years and over) using revised July 1st population estimates from Statistics Canada, Demography Division. Rates may not match those previously published in other reports.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Corrections Key Indicator Report for Adults.

Remand rate decreases for the first time in more than a decade

Over the past few decades, there have been considerable changes in the trends for provincial and territorial sentenced custody and remand. More specifically, since the mid-1980s, the rate of those in sentenced provincial or territorial custody has been gradually declining while the rate of those in remand has been gradually increasing (Chart 4). As a result, there has been a shift in the composition of the provincial and territorial custodial population from a predominantly sentenced population to a predominantly remand population.

Chart 4
Average counts of adults in provincial and territorial custody, by type of custody status, 1980/1981 to 2010/2011

Data table for chart 4

Chart 4 Average  counts of adults in provincial and territorial custody, by type of custody  status, 1980/1981 to 2010/2011

Note: Due to the unavailability of data for certain years, the following jurisdictions have been removed in order to make comparisons over time: Prince Edward Island and Nunavut. Counts are based on the average number of adults in sentenced custody and remand on any given day. Rates are calculated per 100,000 adult population (18 years and over) using revised July 1st population estimates from Statistics Canada, Demography Division. Rates may not match those previously published in other reports. Excludes adults in custody for reasons other than sentenced custody or remand, such as immigration holds.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Corrections Key Indicator Report for Adults.

In 2010/2011, those in remand on any given day accounted for 53% of adults in provincial or territorial custody while those in sentenced custody accounted for 45%. The proportions were reversed 10 years ago, at 40% and 58%, respectively.Note 17 That said, the 2010/2011 rate of remand fell 6% from the previous year, the first notable decline in over a decade. Between 2009/2010 and 2010/2011, only 1 in 10 of the reporting jurisdictions (Yukon) reported an increase in the median amount of time spent in remand; all other provinces and territories declined or remained stable (Chart 5).Note 18

Chart 5
Median number of days spent by adults in remand, by province and territory, 2009/2010 and 2010/2011

Data table for chart 5

Chart 5 Median  number of days spent by adults in remand, by province and territory, 2009/2010  and 2010/2011

1. Short periods of remand are managed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and are excluded from the calculation of the median. This may partly explain why longer remand stays are reported in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Note: Excludes Prince Edward Island, British Columbia and Nunavut due to the unavailability of data.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Adult Correctional Services Survey.

The recent decrease in the rate of remand may be partly due to steps taken by many provinces and territories to try to reduce the amount of time spent in remand. For example, some jurisdictions have hired additional prosecutors, paralegals and clerical staff in order to increase the efficiency of the court process (e.g., Government of Saskatchewan 2010; Manitoba Department of Justice 2010). As well, some courts now use video conferencing for routine hearings in order to expedite judicial matters (e.g., Government of Alberta 2007; Government of Ontario 2010; Provincial Court of Manitoba 2005; Government of Saskatchewan 2010). The implementation of Bill C-25 in 2010, which limits the amount of credit that can be granted for time spent in remand, has also been viewed as another way to help reduce the size of the remand population (Department of Justice Canada 2011). 

Text box 2
How much does Canada's adult correctional system cost?

Excluding Yukon and Nunavut, expenditures on adult corrections, including salaries and operating costs, totalled about $4.1 billion in 2010/2011 (Table 5).Note 19 After controlling for inflation, this amount marked a 1.2% increase from 2009/2010 and a 40.2% increase from 10 years ago. As in previous years, about three-quarters (77%) of correctional costs were for salaries, wages and benefits and one-quarter (23%) were for operating expenditures.

Costs associated with custodial services accounted for close to three-quarters (72%) of all correctional expenditures in 2010/2011 while community supervision services accounted for 13%.Note 20 This holds true despite the fact that the total number of adults in custody was far lower than the number of adults under community supervision. It is generally more costly to imprison offenders than to supervise them in the community.

Federal custodial costs tend to be greater than those at the provincial or territorial level as federal offenders (2 years or more) typically require higher levels of security and longer-term specialized programming (Johnson 2004). In 2010/2011, the average daily cost for a federal inmate amounted to about $357, close to double the average daily cost of $171 to imprison a provincial or territorial inmate.Note 21

End of text box 2.

Most adults in sentenced provincial or territorial custody for non-violent offences

There are many factors that judges consider when deciding whether to impose a custody sentence on an offender. These may include, but are not limited to, the protection of society, the rehabilitation of the offender, the extent of harm inflicted on the victim, and the offender's previous criminal history (Department of Justice Canada 2005). In addition, judges invariably consider the nature of the crime, including the type of offence committed (Department of Justice Canada 2005).

Overall, most crimes committed by adults admitted to provincial or territorial sentenced custody in 2010/2011 were non-violent.Note 22 More specifically, 76% of all such admissions involved property offences, impaired driving, drug offences or other non-violent offences while 24% involved violent offences (Table 6). The exceptions were in the Northwest Territories and Manitoba where most admissions to sentenced custody were for violent offences (74% and 62%, respectively). As well, in Prince Edward Island, just over one-half (53%) of all admissions to sentenced custody in 2010/2011 were for impaired driving.

The median amount of time served in provincial or territorial sentenced custody tends to vary across jurisdictions. As has been fairly consistent over the past decade, in 2010/2011 the median length of custody stays were longest in Newfoundland and Labrador, at 61 days. In contrast, the shortest median amount of time served was in New Brunswick and Ontario, at 20 days or one-third that in Newfoundland and Labrador (Chart 6).Note 23

Chart 6
Median days spent by adults in provincial and territorial sentenced custody, by province and territory, 2009/2010 and 2010/2011

Data table for chart 6

Chart 6 Median days spent by adults in provincial and  territorial sentenced custody, by province and territory, 2009/2010 and  2010/2011

Note: Excludes Prince Edward Island, British Columbia and Nunavut due to the unavailability of data.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Adult Correctional Services Survey.

Aboriginal people continue to be over-represented in custody

Each time an adult enters sentenced custody, information on demographic characteristics such as sex, marital status, age and Aboriginal identity is gathered by intake officers.Note 24 These data show that, in 2010/2011, adults serving custody sentences were typically male, single and relatively young. More specifically, 89% of all those in sentenced custody in 2010/2011 were men, 62% were single (never married) and 24% were under 25 years of age.

In addition, adults in sentenced custody were disproportionately Aboriginal. In 2010/2011, 27% of adults in provincial and territorial custody and 20% of those in federal custody involved Aboriginal people, about seven to eight times higher than the proportion of Aboriginal people (3%) in the adult population as a whole (Statistics Canada 2012a).Note 25

The disproportionate number of Aboriginal people in custody was consistent across all provinces and territories (Chart 7) and particularly true among female offenders. In 2010/2011, 41% of females (and 25% of males) in sentenced custody were Aboriginal.

Chart 7
Aboriginal adult admissions to custody, by province and territory, 2010/2011

Data table for chart 7

Chart 7 Aboriginal adult admissions to custody, by province  and territory, 2010/2011

Note: Excludes admissions to custody in which Aboriginal identity was unknown. Excludes British Columbia and Nunavut due to the unavailability of data. Population estimates based on 2006 Census data.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Integrated Correctional Services Survey.

The over-involvement of Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system has been a long-standing issue. In 1989, for example, concerns about Aboriginal people in the correctional system were raised in a report by the Royal Commission, which examined the prosecution and wrongful conviction of Donald Marshall, Jr. (Nova Scotia 1989). A few years later, in 1996, the Criminal Code was reformed to include a specific requirement for courts to consider all available sanctions other than imprisonment, with particular attention to the circumstances of Aboriginal offenders. In subsequent years, numerous initiatives, inquiries, public policy statements, and task forces have continued efforts to address this problem.Note 26

Adults in custody in Saskatchewan have an average of four out of six rehabilitative needs

In addition to the collection of demographic information, many provinces conduct assessments to help determine offenders' treatment and programming needs. At the provincial and territorial levels, information gathered from needs assessments generally focuses on six domains: alcohol or drug abuse (substance abuse); criminal peers and companions (social interactions); community functioning; employment; family or marital issues; and attitude.Note 27 In 2010/2011, information gathered from needs assessments was reported to Statistics Canada for adult offenders who entered correctional facilities in Saskatchewan.

Results from Saskatchewan show that adults who entered custody in 2010/2011 typically had four of the six rehabilitative needs.Note 28 The most common need was in the area of substance abuse, scored by 9 in 10 adults (92%) admitted to custody. A substantial proportion of offenders also displayed needs in the areas of social interaction (85%), attitude (77%), employment (70%), community functioning (69%) and family or marital issues (50%) (Chart 8).

Chart 8
Adults in sentenced custody, by type of rehabilitative need, Saskatchewan, 2010/2011

Data table for chart 8

Chart 8 Adults in sentenced custody, by type of rehabilitative  need, Saskatchewan, 2010/2011

Note: Data are based on the most recent needs assessment conducted. An individual is considered to have a particular need when the level of need is assessed as being medium or high. Excludes adults for whom a needs assessment was not conducted. Categories are not mutually exclusive.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Integrated Correctional Services Survey.

Another area assessed upon admission to sentenced custody is an offender's level of education. In 2010/2011, information on offenders' educational attainment was reported by Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan. These data showed that 44% of all offenders in those provinces who were 25 years or over at the time of admission had never completed high school. This compares to 21% of those of similar age in the general population (Statistics Canada 2012b).

Most adults under community supervision are on probation

Adult offenders under supervision in the community fall into one of two categories: community sentences or conditional release. Adults serving community sentences refer to those on a court-ordered sanction, namely probation or a conditional sentence.Note 29 Adults on conditional release refer to those who are gradually released from a custodial institution into the community through structured mechanisms such as day parole, full parole and statutory release.

In 2010/2011, there were about 125,000 adults under community supervision on any given day in Canada (Table 7), the majority (83%) of whom were on probation.Note 30 Offenders sentenced to probation remain in the community but are subject to a number of conditions for the duration of the order. Some conditions, like reporting to a probation officer, are compulsory and apply to all offenders on probation. Other conditions, such as performing community service, attending treatment or abstaining from alcohol, vary from case to case. Violating the conditions of a probation order can result in criminal charges that are subject to a maximum sentence of two years of imprisonment.

Following a period of decline throughout the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s, the rate of adults on probation has remained relatively stable (Chart 9). At 393 offenders per 100,000 adult population in 2010/2011, the rate was 10% lower than a decade earlier, but virtually unchanged from the year before. Provincially, the 2010/2011 rate of adults on probation ranged widely from a low of 175 per 100,000 adults in Quebec to a high of 713 per 100,000 in Prince Edward Island (Chart 10).

Chart 9
Average counts of adults under provincial and territorial community supervision, by type of supervision, 1980/1981 to 2010/2011

Data table for chart 9

Chart 9 Average counts of adults under provincial and  territorial community supervision, by type of supervision, 1980/1981 to  2010/2011

1. Conditional sentences became a sentencing option under the Criminal Code in 1996, therefore, data begin in 1997.
Note: Due to the unavailability of data for certain years, the following jurisdictions have been removed in order to make comparisons over time: Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Counts are based on the average number of adults on probation or a conditional sentence on any given day. Rates are calculated per 100,000 adult population (18 years and over) using revised July 1st population estimates from Statistics Canada, Demography Division. Rates may not match those previously published in other reports.    
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Corrections Key Indicator Report for Adults.

Chart 10
Average counts of adults on probation, by province, 2010/2011

Data table for chart 10

Chart 10 Average counts of adults on probation, by province,  2010/2011

1. Excludes Nova Scotia due to the unavailability of 2010/2011 data on adult offenders under community supervision.
Note: Counts are based on the average number of adults on probation on any given day. Rates are calculated per 100,000 adult population (18 years and over) using revised July 1st population estimates from Statistics Canada, Demography Division. Rates may not match those previously published in other reports.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Corrections Key Indicator Report for Adults.

One in ten adults under community supervision on a conditional sentence

Another type of community supervision is a conditional sentence. Conditional sentences include a number of conditions restricting the movement and activities of the offender which, if violated, can result in the immediate suspension of the order and imprisonment of the offender. About 11% of adult offenders under community supervision in 2010/2011 were on a conditional sentence.

Following a period of initial increase since becoming a sentencing option in 1996, the rate of adults on a conditional sentence decreased slightly in recent years (Chart 9). On any given day in 2010/2011, there were 50 offenders on a conditional sentence for every 100,000 adults (Table 6), about 4% lower than the previous year though 12% higher than a decade ago.

There is considerable variation among the provinces in the rates of adults on conditional sentences. In 2010/2011, Saskatchewan's rate of adults on conditional sentences (169 per 100,000 adults) was nearly double that in Manitoba, the next highest province. In contrast, conditional sentences were seldom used in Nunavut and Prince Edward Island (Table 7).

Parole rate drops steadily since mid-1990s

Adults on conditional release, namely day parole, full parole and statutory release, accounted for the remaining 6% of offenders under community supervision in 2010/2011. The goal of day parole is to prepare offenders for full parole or statutory release by allowing them to be in the community during the day and return to a community-based residential facility or custody facility each night. Offenders on full parole, on the other hand, while not required to return to a custody facility at night, must report regularly to a parole officer and abide by certain restrictions. Lastly, statutory release refers to the release of federal offenders into the community after serving two-thirds of their sentence.Note 31

The rate of statutory release has remained steady for many years. The combined rate of day and full parole, however, has declined each year since peaking in 1993/1994, including a 3% drop between 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 (Chart 11). At 20 adults per 100,000 adult population, the 2010/2011 rate of adults on parole was at its lowest point since these data were first collected over 30 years ago.Note 32

Chart 11
Average counts of adults on conditional release, by type of release status, 1980/1981 to 2010/2011

Data table for chart 11

Chart 11 Average counts of adults on conditional release, by  type of release status, 1980/1981 to 2010/2011

1. Includes adult offenders under federal or provincial day or full parole.
Note: Counts are based on the average number of adults under parole or on statutory release on any given day. Rates are calculated per 100,000 adult population (18 years and over) using July 1st population estimates from Statistics Canada, Demography Division.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Corrections Key Indicator Report for Adults.

The decrease in parole coincides with the enactment of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA) in 1992. This legislation introduced a number of amendments to parole including the elimination of automatic review and changes to parole eligibility dates. Research by Correctional Service Canada suggests that these changes may explain, at least in part, the decrease in the rate of adults on parole (Grant 1998).

As in previous years, most (72%) conditional releases in 2010/2011 were completed 'successfully', meaning without incident. About 20% were terminated due to a breach of conditions and 8% were terminated due to the commission of a new offence. Of those that were terminated due to a new offence, the vast majority (84%) involved a non-violent crime.

Text box 3
Status of adults on initial entry into correctional services

As mentioned earlier, information on adults in the correctional system is generally analysed using average counts or admissions data. However, another way to examine the involvement of adults in the correctional system is by looking at the legal status of individuals at the point of initial entry into the system. This method is similar to counting admissions, yet each person is only counted once regardless of a change in legal status.

In 2010/2011, data on the initial entry of adults into correctional services was available for six provinces. Consistent with previous years, these data showed that in four of the six reporting provinces (New Brunswick, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta), remand was the most common point of initial entry. In the other two provinces (Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia), the commencement of a probation sentence was the most common point at which adults entered the correctional system.

Text box 3 table
Initial entry of adults into correctional services, by type of supervision and province, 2010/2011
Table summary
This table displays the results of initial entry of adults into correctional services. The information is grouped by type of correctional service (appearing as row headers), newfoundland and labrador, nova scotia, new brunswick, ontario, saskatchewan and alberta, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Type of correctional service Newfoundland and Labrador Nova
Scotia
New
Brunswick
Ontario Saskatchewan Alberta
percent
Custody 37.0 48.2 63.1 65.9 54.4 81.5
Remand 15.4 27.9 29.9 53.7 38.7 60.3
Sentenced custody 15.8 12.7 24.2 5.3 13.7 21.2
Intermittent sentences 5.0 3.9 2.3 3.3 0.8 0.0
Other temporary detention 0.8 3.8 6.6 3.6 1.2 0.0
Community supervision 63.0 51.8 36.9 34.1 45.6 18.5
Probation 42.7 42.3 26.6 30.5 26.6 16.2
Conditional sentences 20.3 9.4 10.3 3.7 9.5 2.3
Bail supervision Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable 9.5 Note ...: not applicable
Total correctional services 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
… not applicable
Note: Figures may not add up due to rounding.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Integrated Correctional Services Survey.

End of text box 3.

Summary

In 2010/2011, there were just over 163,000 adult offenders in Canada's correctional system on any given day. As in previous years, most (77%) adults were under community supervision, usually on probation, and about one-quarter (23%) were incarcerated. The rate of adults under correctional supervision declined 1% between 2009/2010 and 2010/2011, and was 7% lower than a decade ago. The decline in the overall rate of adults in the correctional system since 2000/2001 was driven by a decrease in the rate of those under community supervision (-10%).

In contrast, the rate of adults in custody rose 5% between 2000/2001 and 2010/2011, largely as a result of a growing remand population. That said, the rate of remand fell 6% in 2010/2011, the first notable decline in over a decade. Among the provinces, Nova Scotia reported the lowest rate of adults in custody while Manitoba reported the highest. Adults in custody were typically male, single, relatively young (under 25 years) and disproportionately Aboriginal.

Data sources

Data used in this article are drawn from three sources: the Adult Correctional Services Survey, the adult component of the Integrated Correctional Services Survey, and the Corrections Key Indicator Report for Adults.

The Adult Correctional Services (ACS) Survey collects annual data on the nature and case characteristics of adult admissions to correctional services from the provincial, territorial and federal systems. There are certain provinces or territories that were unable to report complete data on admissions over the past decade: British Columbia (2010/2011), Nunavut (2010/2011), Prince Edward Island (2004/2005 to 2006/2007), New Brunswick (2000/2001), Alberta (prior to 2005/2006), and Nunavut (2006/2007 to 2007/2008). Also, adult characteristics related to sex, Aboriginal identity and age at admission were unavailable for the Northwest Territories prior to 2001/2002.

The Integrated Correctional Services Survey (ICSS) is a microdata survey, currently being implemented, and is intended to eventually replace the Adult Correctional Services Survey. The ICSS collects person-level, descriptive data on the characteristics of adults admitted to correctional services. Jurisdictions that reported adult custodial data to the ICSS in 2010/2011 were Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Correctional Service Canada.

The Corrections Key Indicator Report (KIR) for Adults monitors trends in correctional populations over time and is used to calculate average counts. The following exclusions are noted for trend data: Newfoundland and Labrador (2009/2010 on community supervision), Prince Edward Island (2005/2006), Nova Scotia (2006/2007 to 2010/2011 on community supervision), New Brunswick (2000/2001 on community supervision), the Northwest Territories (2007/2008 and prior on community supervision) and Nunavut (2006/2007 to 2007/2008).

Detailed data tables

Table 1 Average counts of adults in correctional services, by type of supervision, Canada, 2010/2011

Table 2 Admissions to adult correctional services, by jurisdiction, 2010/2011

Table 3 Average counts of adults in correctional services, by jurisdiction, 2010/2011

Table 4 Average counts of adults in custody, by type of custody status and jurisdiction, 2010/2011

Table 5 Expenditures on adult correctional services, by jurisdiction, 2010/2011

Table 6 Admissions of adults to sentenced custody, by most serious offence, province and territory, 2010/2011

Table 7 Average counts of adults under community supervision, by type of supervision and jurisdiction, 2010/2011

References

Brennan, S. 2012. "Police-reported crime statistics in Canada, 2011." Juristat. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85-002-X. (accessed July 24, 2012).

Department of Justice Canada. 2011. Backgrounder: Credit for Time Served in Pre-sentencing Custody. Ottawa. (accessed April 20, 2012).

Department of Justice Canada. 2005. Backgrounder: Fair and Effective Sentencing – A Canadian Approach to Sentencing Policy. Ottawa.

Government of Alberta: Solicitor General and Public Security. 2007. Site Selected for New Edmonton Remand Centre. Edmonton. (accessed April 21, 2012).

Government of Ontario: Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services. 2010. Correctional Services: Modernizing the System. Toronto. (accessed April 21, 2012).

Government of Saskatchewan: Ministry of Justice and Attorney General. 2010. Annual Report 09-10. Regina. (accessed April 21, 2012).

Grant, B. 1998. "Day parole: Effects of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act." FORUM on Corrections Research.Vol. 10, no. 2. p. 23-26. (accessed April 17, 2012).

Johnson, S. 2004. "Adult correctional services in Canada, 2002/03." Juristat. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85-002-XIE. Vol. 24, no. 10. (accessed April 17, 2012).

Manitoba Department of Justice. 2010. Province Making Justice System More Effective by Adding Prosecutors and Support Services: Swan. Winnipeg. (accessed April 12, 2012).

Nova Scotia. 1989. Report of the Royal Commission on the Donald Marshall, Jr., Prosecution. Vol.1. Commissioner's Report – Findings and Recommendations. Halifax. Nova Scotia.

Perreault, S. 2009. "The incarceration of Aboriginal people in adult correctional services." Juristat. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85-002-X. Vol. 29, no. 3.

Provincial Court of Manitoba. 2005. 3rd Video Room – Winnipeg Remand Centre. Winnipeg. (accessed April 20, 2012).

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Statistics Canada. 2012b. "Population 15 years and over by highest certificate, diploma or degree, by age groups (2006 Census)." Summary Table Based on 2006 Census of Population. (accessed May 3, 2012).

Walmsley, R. World Prison Brief. International Centre for Prison Studies. (accessed April 23, 2012).

Notes

  1. There are two provinces, Quebec and Ontario, that operate provincial parole boards and are responsible for provincial offenders on conditional release in the community.
  2. For the purposes of this analytical article, adults in custody refer to those in sentenced custody, remand and other temporary detention (e.g., immigration holds). Adults under community supervision refer to those on probation, conditional sentences, parole and statutory release (federal only).
  3. For further information, see the Data sources section.
  4. The average count in 2010/2011 excludes adults under community supervision in Nova Scotia.
  5. The percent change from 2009/2010 to 2010/2011 excludes Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia.
  6. The percent change from 2000/2001 to 2010/2011 excludes Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
  7. See Note 4.
  8. The percent change from 2000/2001 to 2010/2011 excludes Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
  9. The percent change from 2000/2001 to 2010/2011 excludes Nunavut.
  10. Data published by Alberta's Ministry of the Solicitor General and Public Security are lower than the data published by Statistics Canada due to different counting methodologies. The numbers produced by Statistics Canada represent movement from one status in correctional services to another. For instance, an individual who moves from remand to sentenced custody is counted as one admission to remand and one admission to sentenced custody. Alberta uses a different methodology whereby an admission to custody is counted once, regardless of a change in status.
  11. The percent change from 2009/2010 to 2010/2011 excludes British Columbia and Nunavut. The percent change from 2000/2001 to 2010/2011 excludes New Brunswick, Alberta, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
  12. See Note 4.
  13. See Note 8.
  14. In 2010/2011, the average daily count of offenders in custody for other reasons (e.g., immigration holds) accounted for about 1% of all adults in custody.
  15. See Note 9.
  16. Provincial and territorial incarceration rates are based on average daily counts of offenders in provincial and territorial institutions only and exclude federal offenders.
  17. In both 2010/2011 and 2000/2001, adult admissions to custody for other reasons (e.g., immigration hold) accounted for about 2% of all admissions.
  18. Comparisons of the median number of days spent in remand from 2000/2001 to 2010/2011 exclude Prince Edward Island, British Columbia and Nunavut.
  19. Excludes all expenditure data from Yukon and Nunavut as well as capital expenditures, such as the cost of building new prisons, from the reporting jurisdictions.
  20. Costs associated with headquarters and central services accounted for 14% of correctional expenditures in 2010/2011, while national and provincial parole boards accounted for about 1%.
  21. The average daily inmate cost to imprison a provincial or territorial inmate excludes data from Yukon and Nunavut.
  22. Admissions that involved more than one offence are represented by the most serious offence. Excludes admissions for which the most serious offence was unknown.
  23. Excludes Prince Edward Island and Nunavut due to the unavailability of data.
  24. Information on sex, age and Aboriginal identity excludes British Columbia and Nunavut. Information on marital status is based on data from Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Correctional Service Canada.
  25. See Note 16. Refers to adults (18 years and over) who reported identifying with at least one Aboriginal group, that is, North American Indian, Métis or Inuit, and/or those who reported being a Treaty Indian or Registered Indian, as defined by the Indian Act of Canada, and/or those who reported they were members of an Indian band or First Nation.
  26. For further information, see Perreault, S. 2009. "The incarceration of Aboriginal people in adult correctional services." Juristat. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85-002-X. Vol. 29, no. 3.
  27. For adults in federal custody, a seventh domain pertaining to personal or emotional issues is also assessed.
  28. An individual is considered to have a need in a particular area when the level of need has been rated as medium or high as of their most recent assessment.
  29. Other types of community supervision, such as bail orders, recognizance of peace bonds and alternative measures, are not included in this analysis.
  30. See Note 4.
  31. Offenders serving life or indeterminate sentences are not eligible for statutory release. As well, the Correctional Service of Canada may recommend an offender be denied statutory release under certain circumstances (e.g., concerns that the offender may commit a sexual offence involving a child). For further information, see the Parole Board of Canada website.
  32. Includes adult offenders under federal or provincial day or full parole.
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