Youth correctional statistics in Canada, 2015/2016

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by Jamil Malakieh

The Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA), enacted in 2003, is the legislation that governs how youth aged 12 to 17 years are to be dealt with by the Canadian justice system. The Act provides for a separate youth justice system based on the principle of diminished moral blameworthiness or culpability of youth. The youth justice system is meant to protect the public by holding young people accountable in a manner that is proportionate to the seriousness of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the young person. The Act also promotes appropriate rehabilitation and reintegration of youth into the community by offering various community sanctions. Within this legislative framework, set by the federal government, the provinces and territories are responsible for administering youth correctional services in Canada.Note 1Note 2

This Juristat article presents an overview of youth correctional services in Canada for 2015/2016. The utilization of correctional services is described in this article using three measures: average counts, initial entry and admissions. Average counts provide a snapshot of the correctional population and represent the number of youth in custody or under community supervision on any given day. Initial entry represents the number of youth entering the youth corrections system for a period of supervision. Admissions count each time youth begin or move to a new type of custody or community supervision. The same person can be included several times in the admissions counts whenever the individual moves from one type of legal status to another providing an indication of the flow of youth through the system (see Text box 1).

Data on average counts come from the Youth Corrections Key Indicator Report, while data on initial entry and admissions come from the Youth Custody and Community Services Survey and the Integrated Correctional Services Survey. It should be noted that not all jurisdictions were able to report data for 2015/2016. Exclusions are noted where applicable (see Text box 1).

Rate of youth in correctional services decreases

Youth incarceration rate continues to decline

Rate of youth supervised in the community continues decade long downward trend

The majority of youth enter correctional services under community supervision

Admissions to correctional services decline

Older male youth account for the majority of admissions to correctional services

Aboriginal youth continue to be over-represented in the correctional system

Length of time youth serve varies by type of custody

Chart 1

Data table for Chart 1
Data table for Chart 1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 1 2005/2006, 2006/2007, 2007/2008, 2008/2009, 2009/2010, 2010/2011, 2011/2012, 2012/2013, 2013/2014, 2014/2015 and 2015/2016, calculated using rate per 10,000 youth population units of measure (appearing as column headers).
  2005/2006 2006/2007 2007/2008 2008/2009 2009/2010 2010/2011 2011/2012 2012/2013 2013/2014 2014/2015 2015/2016
rate per 10,000 youth population
Incarceration rateData table Note 1 9 9 9 9 8 8 8 7 6 6 5
Sentenced rate 5 5 4 4 4 4 4 3 3 3 2
Pre-trial detention rateData table Note 2 4 4 5 5 4 4 4 4 3 3 3

Chart 2

Data table for Chart 2
Data table for Chart 2
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 2 2005/2006, 2006/2007, 2007/2008, 2008/2009, 2009/2010, 2010/2011, 2011/2012, 2012/2013, 2013/2014, 2014/2015 and 2015/2016, calculated using rate per 10,000 youth population units of measure (appearing as column headers).
  2005/2006 2006/2007 2007/2008 2008/2009 2009/2010 2010/2011 2011/2012 2012/2013 2013/2014 2014/2015 2015/2016
rate per 10,000 youth population
Community supervision rateData table Note 1 83 79 77 77 76 70 66 62 56 48 43
Probation rate 77 74 71 71 69 63 60 56 51 43 39

Chart 3

Data table for Chart 3
Data table for Chart 3
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 3. The information is grouped by Age (appearing as row headers), 12 years, 13 years, 14 years, 15 years, 16 years, 17 years and 18 years and older, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
  12 years 13 years 14 years 15 years 16 years 17 years 18 years and older
percentData table Note 1
Male 0 2 6 12 18 24 12
Female 0 1 3 5 6 7 2

Chart 4

Data table for Chart 4
Data table for Chart 4
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 4 Length of time served, 1 month or less, Greater than 1 month to 6 months, Greater than 6 months to 1 year, Greater than 1 year to 2 years and More than 2 years, calculated using percent of releases units of measure (appearing as column headers).
  Length of time servedData table Note 1
1 month or less Greater than 1 month to 6 months Greater than 6 months to 1 year Greater than 1 year to 2 years More than 2 years
percent of releases
Pre-trial detention 79 19 1 1 0
Sentenced custody 45 47 6 2 1
Supervised probation 1 8 42 34 15

Detailed data tables

Table 1 Average counts of youth in correctional services, selected jurisdictions, 2015/2016

Table 2 Average counts of youth in correctional services, by jurisdiction, 2015/2016

Table 3 Initial entry of youth into correctional services by legal hold status, selected jurisdictions, 2015/2016

Table 4 Admissions of youth to correctional services, by jurisdiction, 2015/2016

Table 5 Admissions of youth to correctional services, by characteristics of the person admitted and supervision program, nine jurisdictions, 2015/2016

Start of text box

Text box 1
Youth corrections surveys concepts and coverage

Average counts provide a snapshot of the youth corrections population and represent the number of youth in custody or under community supervision on any given day. Usually, corrections officials perform daily counts of youth in their facilities and monthly counts of youth under community supervision. These are used to calculate the annual average daily custody and community counts used in this report.

Initial entry represents the first point at which a youth commences an uninterrupted period of supervision within the youth corrections system. Each person is counted only once during their period of involvement with correctional services, regardless of subsequent changes in legal status.

Admissions for Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics surveys are counted each time a person begins any period of supervision in a correctional institution or in the community. These data describe and measure the flow of persons through correctional services over time. The same person may be included several times in the admission counts where he/she moves from one correctional program to another (e.g., from pre-trial detention to sentenced custody) or re-enters the system later in the same year. Admissions therefore represent the number of entries of persons during a fiscal year to pre-trial detention, sentenced custody or a community supervision program, regardless of the previous legal status.

The youth incarceration rate represents the average number of youth in secure or open custody per day for every 10,000 individuals in the youth population (12 to 17 years old). It includes youth in sentenced custody, youth in Provincial Director Remand being held following the breach of a community supervision condition, youth in pre-trial detention awaiting trial or sentencing, and youth in other temporary detention.

Not all provinces and territories reported complete data for 2015/2016. Jurisdictions excluded from particular analyses due to non-reporting are noted throughout the article, and include the following:

  • Average counts data for Quebec (custody supervision, community supervision and total correctional services).
  • Average counts data for Nova Scotia and New Brunswick (community supervision and total correctional services).
  • Average counts data for Alberta for 2014/2015 (community supervision and total correctional services).
  • Admissions data for Nova Scotia, Quebec, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
  • Initial entry data for Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

These data are administrative data. Even though surveys try to standardize the way the data are reported, limitations due to differences in jurisdictional operations can restrict uniform application of the definitions in some situations. Therefore, caution is required when making comparisons between jurisdictions.

It should be noted that some of the jurisdictional counts presented in this analysis, particularly those for youth in custody, are small, small changes in the count can therefore result in large year-to-year percentage changes.

End of text box

Survey description

The Youth Corrections Key Indicator Report provides data that are used to calculate average counts of youth under correctional supervision. Usually, correctional officials perform daily counts of inmates in their facilities and monthly counts of offenders under community supervision. The following exclusions are noted for historical data: Prince Edward Island (2005/2006 for data on community supervision); Nova Scotia (2006/2007 to 2015/2016 for data on community supervision); New Brunswick (2004/2005 to 2015/2016 for data on community supervision); Quebec (2011/2012 to 2015/2016); Alberta (2013/2014 for data on both custody and community supervision and 2014/2015 for data on community supervision); Northwest Territories (2004/2005 to 2007/2008 for data on community supervision).

The Youth Custody and Community Services Survey (YCCS) collects aggregate data on the number and characteristics (e.g., age, sex, Aboriginal identity) of youth admissions to and releases from correctional services. The following jurisdictions reported survey data in 2015/2016: Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

The Integrated Correctional Services Survey (ICSS) collects microdata on adults and youth under the responsibility of the federal and provincial/territorial correctional systems. Data include socio-demographic characteristics (e.g., age, sex, Aboriginal identity) as well as information pertaining to correctional supervision legal hold status (e.g. pre-trial detention, sentenced custody, probation). The following jurisdictions responded to the ICSS in 2015/2016: Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia.

References

Miladinovic, Z. 2016. “Youth court statistics in Canada, 2014/2015.” Juristat. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85-002-X.

Notes

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