JustFacts

Indigenous overrepresentation in provincial/territorial corrections

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September 2018

Research and Statistics Division

This fact sheet is based on data from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (CCJS) on Indigenous adults and youth in the correctional system.Footnote 1

Indigenous adults overrepresented in correctional servicesFootnote 2

More than one in four (28%) adults (18 years and older) admitted to provincial/territorial correctional services in 2016/2017 were Indigenous. As a percentage of people admitted to corrections, Indigenous adults represented 25% of those serving community sentences, 30% of those in sentenced custody, 29% of those in remand, and 33% of those in other custodyFootnote 3 .

The proportion of Indigenous adults admitted to provincial/territorial custody in 2016/2017 (27%) was about 7 times higher than their representation in the Canadian population (4.1%).

The proportion of Indigenous adults admitted to correctional services has increased for every type of correctional supervision since 2007/2008 (Table 1).

Table 1. Percentage of admissions of Indigenous adults to provincial/territorial correctional services, 2007/2008-2016/2017
  2007/ 2008 2008/ 2009 2009/ 2010 2010/ 2011 2011/ 2012 2012/ 2013 2013/ 2014 2014/ 2015 2015/ 2016 2016/ 2017
Total correctional services 20 21 23 24 25 24 25 25 26 28
Community sentence 19 19 20 21 22 23 23 24 24 25
Custody (total) 21 23 24 26 27 25 26 26 27 30
Sentenced custody 23 25 26 28 28 26 26 26 27 30
Remand 20 21 23 24 25 24 24 25 25 29
Other custody 26 27 29 30 30 33 34 34 33 33

Note: Analysis excludes cases where Indigenous identity was unknown.
Note: Data do not represent all provinces/territories as there are variations in the availability of data. The Adult Correctional Services Survey is an aggregate survey. The following jurisdictions Prince Edward Island, Québec, Manitoba, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Alberta participate in the survey custody component only. The Integrated Correctional Services Survey is a microdata survey that is being implemented and will replace the ACS. Reporting jurisdictions currently include: Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Correctional Service Canada and Alberta community component only. Data for Alberta are not available for 2012/2013 and 2015/2016. For all Integrated Correctional Services Survey data respondents, comparisons to data prior to their implementation to the microdata survey should be made with caution. Data are based on a fiscal year (April 1 through March 31).
Note: Total correctional services includes community sentence and custody (total).
Note: Custody (total) includes intermittent sentences, remand and other custodial status admissions.
Sources: Statistics Canada. Table 251-0022 - Adult correctional services, custodial admissions to provincial and territorial programs by Aboriginal identity, annual (number), CANSIM (database); Table 251-0026 - Adult correctional services, community admissions to provincial and territorial programs by Aboriginal identity, annual (number), CANSIM (database).
Custom tabulation prepared by the Department of Justice Canada.

Indigenous youth overrepresented in correctional services

The proportion of Indigenous youth admitted to provincial/territorial sentenced custody in 2016/2017 (50%) was more than six times higher than their representation in the population (8% of Canadians aged 12-17).

Almost half (46%) of youth (aged 12-17) admitted to provincial/territorial correctional services in 2016/2017 were Indigenous. As a percentage of youth in correctional services, 42% of those serving community sentences were Indigenous, as were 60% in open custodyFootnote 4, 55% in secure custodyFootnote 5, 48% in pre-trial detentionFootnote 6, and 71% in provincial director remandFootnote 7.

The proportion of Indigenous youth admitted to correctional services has increased for every type of correctional supervision since 2007/2008. Noticeably, provincial director remand increased in 2015/2016 after decreasing between 2012 and 2014 and leveling off in 2016/2017 (Table 2).

Table 2. Percentage of admissions of Indigenous youth to provincial/territorial correctional services, 2007/2008 to 2016/2017
  2007/ 2008 2008/ 2009 2009/ 2010 2010/ 2011 2011/ 2012 2012/ 2013 2013/ 2014 2014/ 2015 2015/ 2016 2016/ 2017
Total correctional services 27 28 28 29 32 32 33 33 35 46
Community sentence 26 27 26 27 29 28 29 29 30 42
Custody (total) 28 29 31 32 35 37 39 37 39 50
Secure custody 32 34 32 34 39 34 35 40 41 55
Open custody 35 36 31 32 33 39 42 39 41 60
Pre-trial detention 26 27 30 30 34 35 37 35 37 48
Provincial director remand 54 50 56 63 60 71 66 63 72 71

Note: Analysis excludes cases where Indigenous identity was unknown.
Note: Data do not represent all provinces/territories as there are variations in the availability of data. In Ontario data began to be provided through the Integrated Correctional Services Survey (ICSS in 2004/2005). Prior to 2004/2005 Ontario data were submitted separately by two provincial ministries: the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS) and the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS). Ontario did not report pre-trial detention for 12 to 15-year-olds prior to 2004/2005 and data for 12 to 15-year-olds were not provided for 2002/2003. As a result, caution is recommended when making trend comparisons for Ontario and Canada.
Note: Custody (total) includes pre-trial detention, provincial director remand, secure custody and open custody.
Source: Statistics Canada. Table 251-0012 - Youth custody and community services (YCCS), admissions to correctional services, by Aboriginal identity and sex, annual (number), CANSIM (database). Custom tabulation prepared by the Department of Justice Canada.

Overrepresentation in custody more pronounced for Indigenous women

The degree of overrepresentation in the correctional system is greater for Indigenous women than Indigenous men.

In 2016/2017, Indigenous women accounted for 43% of adult female custody admissions (44% sentenced custody, 41% remand, 50% other custody) and Indigenous men accounted for 28% of adult male custody admissions (28% sentenced custody, 27% remand, 30% other custody).

In 2016/2017, female Indigenous youth accounted for 60% of female youth custody admissions (68% open custody, 57% secure custody, 58% pre-trial detention, 87% provincial director remand). Male Indigenous youth accounted for 47% of male youth custody admissions (59% open custody, 54% secure custody, 44% pre-trial detention, 67% provincial director remand).

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