Adult and youth correctional statistics in Canada, 2016/2017

by Jamil Malakieh

Release date: June 19, 2018

Correction notice

This article was updated June, 29th, 2018. The change affected a data point in the “Adults who are an Aboriginal person are overrepresented in the correctional system” section. In the first bullet point, the estimate of “about 5%” was changed to a more precise figure of “4.1%”.

In Canada, the administration of correctional services is a shared responsibility between the federal and provincial and territorial governments. The Correctional Service of Canada is responsible for the federal system and has jurisdiction over adult offenders (18 years and older) serving custodial sentences of two years or more and is responsible for supervising offenders on conditional release in the community (such as parole or statutory release). The provincial and territorial correctional services programs are responsible for adults serving custodial 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. For youth, the provinces and territories are responsible for administering correctional services for both custody and community sentences, including youth being held while awaiting trial or sentencing (pre-trial detention).

This Juristat article provides an overview of adult and youth correctional services in Canada for 2016/2017. The use 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 adults and youth in custody or under community supervision on any given day. Initial entry represents the number of individuals entering the corrections system for a period of supervision. Admissions are counted each time an individual begins or moves 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 thereby providing an indication of the flow of persons through the correctional system (see Text box 1).

The data for this article come from the Adult Correctional Services Survey, the Youth Correctional Services Survey, the Corrections Key Indicator Report for Adults and Youth, the Integrated Correctional Services Survey and the Canadian Correctional Services Survey. Data coverage for these surveys for some years is incomplete. Exclusions are noted where applicable.

Adult correctional services

Rate of adults in correctional services continues to decline

Adult incarceration rate declines slightly

Gap between remanded and provincial/territorial sentenced population increases

Most adults enter correctional services in remand

Admissions to adult correctional services increase slightly

Males and younger adults are overrepresented in custody admissions

Adults who are an Aboriginal person are overrepresented in the correctional system

Majority of adults spend less than a month in provincial and territorial custody

Little change in operating expenditures for adult corrections

Youth correctional services

Rate of youth in correctional services continues to decline

Youth incarceration rate continues to decline

Majority of youth continue to enter correctional services under community supervision

Youth admissions to correctional services decline

Males and older youth account for the majority of youth admissions

Aboriginal youth continue to be overrepresented in the correctional system

Time spent under correctional supervision continues to be short

Charts

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 Sentenced custody (federal), Sentenced custody (provincial/territorial) and Remand (provincial/territorial), calculated using rate per 100,000 adult population
units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Sentenced custody (federal)Data table Note 1 Sentenced custody (provincial/territorial)Data table Note 2 Remand (provincial/territorial)Data table Note 3
rate per 100,000 adult population
2006/2007 51 38 47
2007/2008 51 38 49
2008/2009 51 38 50
2009/2010 50 37 50
2010/2011 51 40 47
2011/2012 52 40 47
2012/2013 52 40 48
2013/2014 54 39 46
2014/2015 53 37 45
2015/2016 51 35 48
2016/2017 49 33 49

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. The information is grouped by Age group (years) (appearing as row headers), Federal and Provincial/territorial, calculated using percent of admissions units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Age group (years) Federal Provincial/territorial
percent of admissionsData table Note 1
18 to 19 2 4
20 to 24 16 17
25 to 29 18 20
30 to 34 16 18
35 to 39 13 14
40 to 44 10 9
45 to 49 9 8
50 and older 16 11

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 Time served (appearing as row headers), Sentenced custody and Remand, calculated using percent of releases
units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Time served Sentenced custody Remand
percent of releasesData table Note 1
1 week or less 30 52
Greater than 1 week to 1 month 30 24
Greater than 1 month to 6 months 31 20
More than 6 months 10 5

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. The information is grouped by Age (years) (appearing as row headers), Male and Female, calculated using percent of admissions units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Age (years) Male Female
percent of admissionsData table Note 1
12 0 0
13 2 1
14 7 3
15 13 5
16 18 6
17 24 6
18 and older 12 3

Chart 5

Data table for Chart 5
Data table for Chart 5
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 5. The information is grouped by Length of time served (appearing as row headers), Pre-trial detention, Sentenced custody and Supervised probation, calculated using percent of releases units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Length of time servedData table Note 1 Pre-trial detention Sentenced custody Supervised probation
percent of releases
1 month or less 78 41 0
Greater than 1 month
to 6 months
19 49 6
Greater than 6 months to 1 year 2 7 38
Greater than 1 year to 2 years 1 2 39
More than 2 years 0 1 16

Detailed data tables

Table 1 Average daily counts of adults in correctional services, by type of supervision and jurisdiction, 2016/2017

Table 2 Average daily counts of adults under correctional supervision, by type of supervision and jurisdiction, 2016/2017

Table 3 Initial entry of adults into correctional services, by type of supervision, selected jurisdictions 2016/2017

Table 4 Admissions to adult correctional services, by type of supervision and jurisdiction, 2016/2017

Table 5 Admissions to adult correctional services, by characteristic of persons admitted, type of supervision and jurisdiction, 2016/2017

Table 6 Admissions to adult custody, by Aboriginal identity, sex and jurisdiction, 2006/2007 and 2016/2017

Table 7 Operating expenditures of the adult correctional system, by jurisdiction, 2016/2017

Table 8 Average daily counts of youth in correctional services, selected jurisdictions, 2016/2017

Table 9 Average daily counts of youth in correctional services, by type of supervision and jurisdiction, 2016/2017

Table 10 Initial entry of youth into correctional services, by type of supervision, selected jurisdictions, 2016/2017

Table 11 Admissions of youth to correctional services, by type of supervision and jurisdiction, 2016/2017

Table 12 Admissions of youth to correctional services, by characteristics of the person admitted and type of supervision program, selected jurisdictions, 2016/2017

Table 13 Admissions of youth to custody, by Aboriginal identity, sex and jurisdiction, 2016/2017

Start of text box

Text box 1
Corrections surveys concepts and coverage

Average counts provide a snapshot of the adult or youth corrections population and represent the number of youth or adults in custody or under community supervision on any given day. Usually, corrections officials perform daily counts for persons in their facilities and month-end counts of those under community supervision. These are used to calculate the annual average daily custody and community counts used in this article.

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

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 remand or 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 adult incarceration rate represents the average number of adults in custody per day for every 100,000 individuals in the adult population (18 years and older). It includes adults in sentenced custody, remand and other temporary detention.

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 2016/2017. Jurisdictions excluded from particular analyses due to non-reporting are noted throughout the article, and include the following:

Adult

  • Average counts data for Nova Scotia and New Brunswick (community supervision and total correctional services).
  • Initial entry data for Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Manitoba, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Youth

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

These data are administrative and jurisdictions are asked to provide data in a standardized way following certain definitions; however, 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. As a result, small changes in the count can lead to large year-over-year percentage changes.

End of text box

Start of text box

Text box 2
Conditions of bail

In Canada, persons who are arrested and accused of a crime can either be released by police or held for a bail hearing. Following the bail hearing, the court may order that the accused be remanded (held in custody while awaiting further processing) in a correctional facility or released on bail. According to the Criminal Code, persons charged with a criminal offence should be released on bail unless the Crown can provide justification that detention is necessary.Note It also states that typically, “the accused be released on his giving an undertaking without conditions.” Conditions can however be imposed on those accused who are released on bail to ensure good conduct, ensure attendance at court and maintain the integrity of any ongoing investigations. These conditions, if breached, can lead to additional charges against the accused person.

Bail supervision operates differently across the country. In Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, bail is supervised by provincial and territorial correctional services programs. In the rest of the country, it is typically community-based agencies that supervise bail.

Until recently, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (CCJS) corrections surveys did not collect information on conditions of bail. However, this is changing with a new survey that CCJS is implementing—the Canadian Correctional Services Survey. At this time, initial data on adult bail conditions are available from British Columbia and Alberta.

Adult accused in British Columbia

In 2016/2017, there were a total of 42,943 bail orders for adults supervised by correctional services in British Columbia. An average of seven conditions were imposed for each bail order. The most common condition was “reporting to supervisor” (99% of bail orders). This is expected given correctional services are supervising the order. “Keep the peace and be of good behavior” was the second most common type of condition, being present in 74% of reported bail orders while “reside in place” was the third at 65%.

Adult accused in Alberta

In Alberta, there were a total of 13,749 bail orders for adults supervised by correctional services in 2016/2017. An average of 8 conditions were imposed for each bail order. The most common condition was also “reporting to supervisor” (99% of bail orders). This is expected once again given correctional services are supervising the order. “Reside in place” was the second most common type of condition, being present in 65% of reported bail orders while “keep the peace and be of good behavior’ was the third at 63%.

Text box 2 table 1
Ten most common condition types for bail, among adults, British Columbia, 2016/2017
Table summary
This table displays the results of Ten most common condition types for bail. The information is grouped by Conditions (appearing as row headers), Number and Percent (appearing as column headers).
Conditions Number Percent
Reporting to supervisor 42,363 99
Keep the peace 31,653 74
Reside in place 27,715 65
No contact 25,266 59
Area restrictions 25,118 58
Weapons related 20,546 48
Abstinence 16,246 38
Notify supervisor of any change, in advance 7,573 18
Appear before court 6,616 15
Curfew 5,996 14
Total number of bail orders 42,943 Note ...: not applicable

Text box 2 table 2
Ten most common condition types for bail among adults, Alberta, 2016/2017
Table summary
This table displays the results of Ten most common condition types for bail among adults. The information is grouped by Conditions (appearing as row headers), Number and Percent (appearing as column headers).
Conditions Number Percent
Reporting to supervisor 13,611 99
Reside in place 8,895 65
Keep the peace 8,692 63
Appear before court 7,482 54
No contact 7,154 52
Notify supervisor of any change, in advance 7,025 51
Area restrictions 6,926 50
Abstinence 6,719 49
Weapons related 5,906 43
Curfew 3,836 28
Total number of bail orders 13,749 Note ...: not applicable

End of text box

Key terminology and definitions

Community portion of custody sentence: This is the portion of the young person’s custody sentence (intensive rehabilitative custody and conditional supervision, custody and conditional supervision, or custody and community supervision) that must be served in the community under supervision. The Youth Criminal Justice Act stipulates that the final one-third of most custody sentences shall be served under community supervision.

Conditional sentences: This is an adult sentencing option where the person is given a conditional sentence of imprisonment that is served in the community. According to the terms of the conditional sentence, the offender will serve the term of imprisonment in the community provided that he/she abides by conditions imposed by the court as part of the conditional sentence order. If the offender violates these conditions, he/she may be sent to prison to serve the balance of that sentence.

Deferred custody and supervision: Similar to a conditional sentence within adult sentencing, deferred custody is a community-based alternative to a custodial sentence for youth. Under a deferred custody order, the young person will serve his/her sentence in the community under a set of strict conditions. If these conditions are not followed, the young person may be sent to custody to serve the balance of that sentence.

Intensive support and supervision: Similar to probation, an intensive support and supervision order is a youth sentencing option that is served in the community under conditions, but provides closer monitoring and support than a probation order to assist the young person in changing his/her behavior. This is an “opt-in” sanction under the YCJA, meaning that provinces and territories may choose not to implement this option.

Intermittent sentences: This refers to an adult sentence to custody which is to be served periodically over an extended period of time (e.g., weekend only or selected days of the week).

Pre-trial detention: This is the temporary detention of a youth in custody, while awaiting trial or sentencing.

Probation: A common type of community-based sentence, where the young person or adult is placed under the supervision of a probation officer or other designated person. There are mandatory conditions (e.g., keep the peace) and there may be optional conditions that are put in place for the duration of the probation order.

Provincial Director Remand: When a young person is serving the community portion of a custody and supervision order or a deferred custody and supervision order, and the provincial director has reasonable grounds to believe that the young person has breached, or is about to breach, a condition of the young person’s conditional supervision, the provincial director may issue a warrant of apprehension to suspend the conditional supervision and remand the young person in an appropriate youth facility.

Remand: Remand is the detention of an adult temporarily in custody, while awaiting trial or sentencing.

Sentenced custody (youth): Youth being held in sentenced custody can be held in secure or open facilities.

Secure custody: A facility is considered “secure” when youth or adult offenders are detained by security devices, including those facilities which operate with full perimeter security features and/or where youth are under constant observation. The extent to which facilities are “secure” varies across jurisdictions.

Open custody: A facility is considered “open” when there is minimal use of security devices or perimeter security. The extent to which facilities are “open” varies across jurisdictions. Open custody facilities include community residential centres, group homes, childcare institutions, forest or wilderness camps, etc.

Survey description

The Adult Correctional Services Survey (ACS) collects aggregate data on the number and characteristics (e.g., sex, age group, Aboriginal identity, length of time served) of admissions to and releases from adult correctional services. The following jurisdictions responded to the ACS in 2016/2017: Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Manitoba, Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

The Adult Corrections Key Indicator Report collects aggregate data on average daily custody counts and month-end supervised community corrections counts in the provincial/territorial and federal adult systems. 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 2015/2016 for data on community supervision); Alberta (2013/2014 all data and 2014/2015 for data on community supervision); and, the Northwest Territories (2003/2004 to 2007/2008 for data on community supervision).

The Youth Corrections Key Indicator Report collects aggregate data on average daily custody counts and month-end supervised community corrections counts for youth under correctional 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); the 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 youth correctional services. The following jurisdictions reported survey data in 2016/2017: 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, including admissions and releases by legal hold status (e.g., remand, sentenced, probation). The following jurisdictions responded to the ICSS in 2016/2017: Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Correctional Service Canada.

The Canadian Correctional Services Survey (CCSS) was designed as a replacement for the ICSS. It also 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, including admissions and releases by legal hold status (e.g., remand, sentenced, probation). The following jurisdictions responded to the CCSS in 2016/2017: Saskatchewan, Alberta (adults only) and British Columbia.

Date modified: