Correctional services key indicators, 2012/2013

By Samuel Perreault

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The administration of correctional services in Canada is shared between the federal government and the provincial and territorial governments. In general, the federal system administers custodial sentences of two years or more and parole supervision for adult offenders (18 years and older).1 The provincial and territorial governments administer sentenced custody terms of less than two years served by adult offenders, remand, and sentences served in the community other than parole, such as probation. The provincial and territorial governments are also responsible for all youth correctional services, even though the legislation governing the youth criminal justice system is a federal government responsibility.

At the end of each fiscal year, provincial, territorial and federal governments provide Statistics Canada with data on their activities, including average counts. These counts represent the number of individuals under each type of correctional supervision on any given day.2 This Juristat bulletin article presents the major trends for this measure.

Canada’s incarceration rate is similar to that of the majority of OECD3 countries

In 2012�2013, there were on average 41,049 offenders, both adults and youth, in custody on any given day in Canada.4 This number translates into a rate of 118 persons in custody per 100,000 population,5 unchanged from the previous year (Table 1).

Canada’s incarceration rate is comparable to the rates reported by most OECD countries. It is still about one-sixth of the American incarceration rate (716 per 100,000 population), which is by far the highest rate recorded by a member country, but more than twice the rate reported by Japan (51) and Finland (58) (Chart 1).

Chart 1

Description for chart 1

Incarceration rates are higher in the territories

The Northwest Territories reported the highest incarceration rate (551 adults and youth in custody per 100,000 population) of all the provinces and territories in 2012�2013, despite a 13% decrease in their rate from the previous year. In addition, rates for Nunavut (364) and Yukon (293) exceeded the rate recorded by Manitoba (215), the province with the highest rate. British Columbia (56), Newfoundland and Labrador (57), and Nova Scotia (57) had the lowest rates in the country. It should be noted, however, that these rates do not take federal inmates into account, and can therefore not be compared with the rates shown in the previous section (Table 1).

In 2012�2013, incarceration rates fell in most provinces and territories from the previous fiscal year. Only Yukon (+8%), Quebec6 (+7%), Manitoba (+6%), Prince Edward Island (+3%) and New Brunswick (+1%) saw their rates increase.

Average counts of adults under correctional supervision

The number of adults in sentenced custody remains stable

In 2012�2013, there were on average nearly 40,000 adults in custody on any given day, translating into an adult incarceration rate of 142 per 100,000 population, unchanged from the previous year (Table 2). Of these, approximately 25,600 adults were in sentenced custody, almost 14,500 of them in federal custody and slightly less than 11,200 in provincial or territorial custody, these numbers being virtually the same as in 2011�2012 (Table 3).

The number of adults in sentenced custody remained almost unchanged in 2012�2013, in part because the number of adults in provincial sentenced custody in Quebec rose by 8%, while it fell in most other provinces and territories (Table 3). Manitoba (+1%) and Yukon (+19%) were the only other two jurisdictions to have recorded an increase in the number of adults in provincial or territorial sentenced custody.

There are more adults in remand than in sentenced custody in provincial and territorial correctional facilities

Since 2004�2005, provincial and territorial correctional facilities have held more inmates in remand (custody before or during a trial, or while awaiting sentencing) than in sentenced custody (Chart 2). The year 2012�2013 was no exception, with an average of about 13,700 inmates in remand and 11,200 in sentenced custody (Table 2). However, this situation wasn’t noted in all jurisdictions, as about only half of the provinces and territories had more inmates in remand than in sentenced custody (Table 3).

Chart 2

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The number of adults in remand grew in almost all provinces and territories in 2012�2013, the most marked increases being noted in Prince Edward Island (+25%), and in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Nunavut (each +12%) (Table 3).

The majority of adults under correctional supervision are under community supervision

On any given day in 2012�2013, three-quarters (75%) of adults under correctional supervision, or on average nearly 120,000 adult offenders, were being supervised through community programs such as probation, conditional sentences or parole (Table 2).

Probation was by far the most common supervision program. On average, there were slightly more than 98,000 adult offenders on probation on any given day in 2012�2013, this number representing 61% of all adults under correctional supervision.

Overall, the rate of adult offenders being supervised in the community in 2012/2013 dipped somewhat (-3%) from the previous year. This decrease was largely due to the most common community supervision program, probation (-4%).

Among all provinces and territories, the Northwest Territories (-13%) and Newfoundland and Labrador (-7%) recorded the most notable drops from the previous year in the average number of offenders under community supervision (Table 3).

With regard to federal community supervision programs, the situation was somewhat similar, with a slight decrease in the overall rate (-2%) being reported in 2012�2013. However, the decrease was mainly due to a decrease in full parole (-10%), as the rate for the other types of federal community supervision have all increased (Table 2).

Average counts of youth under correctional supervision

The youth incarceration rate continues to fall

The downward trend in the youth incarceration rate continued in 2012�2013 (Table 4 and Chart 3). Overall, there were on average 1,371 young persons in custody on any given day in Canada, excluding the province of Quebec.7 This number translates into a youth incarceration rate of 73 per 100,000 population, which was 5% lower than the rate recorded the previous year and 31% less than it was 10 years before (Table 4).

Chart 3

Description for chart 3

Unlike what was seen for adults, the highest youth incarceration rates were not reported by the territories, but by Manitoba (303 per 100,000 youth) and Saskatchewan (204). In 2012�2013, British Columbia recorded the lowest youth incarceration rate: 28 young persons in custody per 100,000 youth in the population (Table 5).

There are more young persons in pre-trial detention than in sentenced custody

One of the objectives of the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) is to encourage alternatives to incarceration when the situation permits. The youth incarceration rate dropped significantly with the implementation of the Act in 2003/2004, and since around 2007/2008, the number of youth in sentenced custody has been less than the number of youth in pre-trial detention (Chart 3). In 2012�2013, there were on average 707 young persons in pre-trial detention on any given day, compared with 638 in sentenced custody (Table 4).

Similar to what was seen for adults, this greater number of youth in pre-trial detention than in sentenced custody was observed in some provinces and one territory only: Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and Yukon (Table 5).

The majority of youth under correctional supervision are on probation

The majority of youth under correctional supervision in 2012/2013 were in a community program. In 2012/2013, there were, on average, 11,534 young persons under community supervision on any given day, or almost 9 out of every 10 youth under correctional supervision (89%) (Table 4). The majority of these young persons were on probation; there were on average nearly 10,500 youth on probation on any given day. In fact, youth on probation represented 81% of all youth under correctional supervision.

Similar to youth in custody, the average number of youth under community supervision fell in 2012/2013; their numbers were 7% lower than in the previous year (Table 5). This drop was more pronounced in some provinces and territories, in particular in the Northwest Territories (-36%), Nunavut (-22%), New Brunswick (-13%) and British Columbia (-12%).

Survey Descriptions

The data used in this Juristat bulletin article are drawn from two sources:

The Adult Corrections Key Indicator Report provides data that are used to calculate average counts of adults 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: Newfoundland and Labrador (2009/2010 for data on community supervision); Prince Edward Island (2005/2006); Nova Scotia (2006/2007 to 2012/2013 for data on community supervision); Northwest Territories (2003/2004 to 2007/2008 for data on community supervision).

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 2012/2013 for data on community supervision); Quebec (2011/2012 and 2012/2013); Northwest Territories (2003/2004 to 2007/2008 for data on community supervision).

Detailed data tables

Table 1 Combined incarceration rates (adults and youth), by jurisdiction, 2012/2013

Table 2 Average counts of adults under correctional supervision, by type of supervision, Canada, 2012/2013

Table 3 Average counts of adults under correctional supervision, by type of supervision and jurisdiction, 2012/2013

Table 4 Average counts of youth under correctional supervision, by type of supervision, Canada, 2012/2013

Table 5 Average counts of youth under correctional supervision, by type of supervision and jurisdiction, 2012/2013

Notes

  1. Quebec and Ontario have their own parole boards and supervise inmates released on parole from their custodial facilities. Correctional Service Canada, however, is responsible for the supervision of federal offenders released on parole in these provinces.
  2. Usually, correctional officials perform daily counts of inmates in their facilities and monthly counts of offenders under community supervision. These are used to calculate the annual average daily custody counts and average monthly community counts used in this report.
  3. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
  4. Excludes young offenders 12 to 17 years of age in Quebec due to the unavailability of data for the period covered.
  5. The incarceration rate represents the average daily number of adults and youth in custody for every 100,000 individuals in the population. It includes people in sentenced custody, in remand/pre-trial detention and in other temporary detention.
  6. Excludes counts for youth due to the unavailability of data.
  7. Average counts of youth were not available from the province of Quebec for 2012/2013.
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