Economic profiles of Saskatchewan offenders, 2009/2010
Previous research has indicated that, in general, a small number of individuals are responsible for a disproportionate amount of repeated contact with the justice system. However, there remains little empirical information on the socio-economic factors that contribute to initial, as well as repeated, contact with the justice system. A new study found that adults accused by Saskatchewan police of committing a crime in 2009/2010 had an annual income that was about half that of the general Saskatchewan population in the year prior to their contact with police. These accused (also referred to as offenders) were also more reliant on government transfers than the general population, with $29.35 in government transfers being received for every $100 of employment income—almost $15 more than the general population of Saskatchewan.
The Juristat article "Economic profiles of offenders in Saskatchewan" presents the results of a study that linked tax information to a cohort of individuals who were accused by Saskatchewan police of committing a criminal offence in 2009/2010. These individuals were studied over a two-year follow-up period to determine their pathways through the justice system in Saskatchewan, as well as the extent to which they had repeated contact, also referred to as re-contact, with police for a new offence.
Annual after-tax income of offenders is about half that of the general Saskatchewan population
In 2008, the median annual after-tax income of adults accused of a crime in 2009/2010 in Saskatchewan was $13,380. This was about half the median after-tax income of the general Saskatchewan population.
Overall, those with more police contacts had a lower income than those with no re-contacts. For example, chronic offenders—those who had five or more police re-contacts in the two years following their initial contact—had a median income that was about one-third the amount of offenders who had no re-contact with police ($6,740 versus $19,080).
Government transfers a main source of income for many offenders
The offending population in general, and chronic offenders especially, were more reliant on government transfers as a source of income than the Saskatchewan population overall. The Economic Dependency Ratio (EDR)—which shows how many dollars of government transfers are received for every $100 of employment income—measures how much reliance there is on government transfers.
On average, offenders received $29.35 in government transfers (for example, Employment Insurance, Social Assistance, Workers' Compensation) for every $100 of employment income. This was almost double the amount for both the overall Canadian population ($15.50) and the general population in Saskatchewan ($15.70).
When considering the number of re-contacts adults had with police, chronic offenders had an EDR that was more than three times higher than that of one-time offenders. On average, chronic offenders received $61.95 in government transfers for every $100 of employment income, compared with $18.23 received by one-time offenders.
Reliance on government transfers increased in the year of, and the year following, contact with police
While a contact with police did not appear to impact the annual after-tax income of offenders, there did appear to be a shift in where their money was coming from.
For example, in the year prior to their first contact with police (2008), half (50%) of offenders reported that their main source of income was from wages and salaries. This proportion declined to 46% in the year of contact, and dropped again slightly in the year following contact to 45%.
Over that same time period, however, reliance on government transfers (for example, Employment Insurance, Social Assistance, Workers' Compensation) increased. In the year before their first contact with police (2008), government transfers were the main source of income for 42% of offenders. This increased to 46% in the year of contact and to 48% in the following year.
There was an increased reliance on government transfers in both the year of contact and the subsequent year, regardless of the number of re-contacts individuals had with police.
Of note, government transfers were the main source of income for a much smaller proportion of Saskatchewan residents aged 18 and older (23%). This suggests that those who had a police contact in 2009/2010 had a greater than average reliance on government transfers even before their contact with police occurred.
Offenders proportionately more likely to be materially deprived and residentially instable
Material deprivation is one dimension of marginalization measured by the Canadian Marginalization Index (Can-Marg) and it speaks to socio-economic disadvantage in the areas of education, employment, income and housing. More specifically, it takes into account a number of different factors, such as the proportion of population without a high-school diploma, the unemployment rate and the proportion of homes needing major repairs.
Approximately 4 in 10 (42%) people who came into contact with Saskatchewan police in 2009/2010 experienced the highest levels of material deprivation, compared with 17% of the Saskatchewan population. Among offenders, there were twice as many chronic offenders as there were one-time offenders among the most materially deprived (57% versus 28%).
Residential instability is another dimension of deprivation measured by the Can-Marg. Residential instability looks at certain neighbourhood characteristics, such as the proportion of the population who moved during the previous five years and the proportion of dwellings that are apartment buildings.
Overall, 43% of individuals who had contact with police in 2009/2010 experienced residential instability, compared with 23% of the general Saskatchewan population. Among offenders, 46% of chronic offenders experienced the highest levels of residential instability, a proportion slightly higher than one-time offenders (41%).
Selected economic characteristics of adult offenders, by number of re-contacts with police, Saskatchewan, 2008
Note to readers
This Juristat article uses data from the Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey, the Integrated Criminal Court Survey and the Integrated Correctional Services Survey, to determine the number of people who had a re-contact with the Saskatchewan justice system from 2009/2010 to 2011/2012. These data have been linked to the T1 Family File (T1FF) for 2008 to 2011, in order to analyze economic characteristics of the re-contact cohort. The T1FF has been produced annually at Statistics Canada by the Income Statistics Division since 1982 and contains basic tax and demographic information on the Canadian population.
The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics produced a Canadian Marginalization Index (Can-Marg) specific to Saskatchewan using 2006 Census of Population data. It is based on methodologies established by Matheson et al. (2012) for the creation of the Can-Marg. It is an area-based index that identifies four dimensions of deprivation and marginalization: material deprivation, residential instability, dependency and ethnic concentration. It uses data from dissemination areas within Saskatchewan. The index was used as a proxy for individual-level information.
Contact: A contact with the justice system is defined as an official intervention, which is the date that the accused was charged by police in relation to a reported incident or the date the incident was cleared otherwise. For the purpose of this study, the contact with police must have happened from April 2009 to March 2010. While this is considered their first contact within this study, it is possible that the individual had prior contacts before this time and additional re-contacts after this period.
Re-contact: A re-contact is defined as a subsequent contact with police (i.e., a new charge/charge cleared otherwise) in the two-year period following the individual's first contact with police between April 2009 and March 2010.
One-time offender: An individual who had a contact with police in Saskatchewan in 2009/2010 and did not have a subsequent contact in the two-year period following the date of the initial contact.
Repeat offender: An individual who had a contact with police in Saskatchewan in 2009/2010 and had between one and four subsequent re-contacts with Saskatchewan police in the two-year period following the date of the initial contact.
Chronic offender: An individual who had a contact with police in Saskatchewan in 2009/2010 and had five or more subsequent re-contacts with Saskatchewan police in the two-year period following the date of the initial contact.
The article "Economic profiles of offenders in Saskatchewan" is now available as part of the publication Juristat (85-002-X).
For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; STATCAN.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.STATCAN@canada.ca).
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