Statistics Canada reported today that that rate of incarceration in Canada increased for the first time in more than a decade in 2005/2006.
The rate moved from 107 to 110 prisoners per 100,000 population.
“Canada’s incarceration rate tends to be higher than most western European countries, yet far lower than that of the United States. For instance, Sweden posted an incarceration rate of 82 and France a rate of 85 per 100,000 population in 2005/2006. By comparison, the incarceration rate in England and Wales was 148, and in the United States the adult rate stood at 738 (the United States excludes youth from its rate)”.
In contrast, the number of youth in custody continued to decline. There has been a 58% decline in the number of youth in custody from 2002/2003. The report attributes this to the impact of the Youth Criminal Justice Act passed in 2003. The Act provides for the diversion of less serious youth crimes and first-time offenders away from the criminal court process.
And adults in remand (in custody while awaiting trial or sentencing) for the first time outnumbered convicted offenders serving a sentence of imprisonment in provincial or territorial institutions. Over the past 10 years, the proportion in remand has approximately doubled in most jurisdictions.
“Several factors might explain why remand counts are rising relative to sentenced counts. For instance, court cases have become more complex, resulting in longer processing times and, consequently, longer stays on remand. For example, in 1994/1995, about 34% of those in remand were being held for more than one week; by 2004/2005, this proportion had grown to 45%. Longer stays mean higher average counts”.
“Also, offenders are spending less time in sentenced custody because courts are giving credit for time spent in remand when determining sentence length. This, in turn, decreases counts of sentenced custody”.