Ethnic Diversity in Canadian Federal Offender Admissions
Why we did this study
Statistics Canada reports the demographic characteristics of the Canadian population are changing, partially due to immigration. As the size of visible minority groups in the community increases, it is plausible that similar changes will occur in the federal correctional population. The development of correctional interventions and management of the risks and needs of visible minority offenders requires research into their characteristics, as well as a better understanding of their involvement in gangs and institutional incidents.
What we did
Ten year trends in the representation of ethnocultural groups were examined first. Secondly, comparisons were made between different ethnocultural groups in a cohort of 16,925 men and 1,153 women offenders admitted on a new federal sentence between January 1, 2006, and August 31, 2009.
What we found
There were significant proportional increases in the 2000 to 2009 offender populations among Southeast Asian (464%), Chinese (355%), and Latin American (328%) groups, although the number in each group was less than 350. Slower growth was found for other groups: Arab/West Asian (68%), South Asian (21%), and Black (16%) offenders. Black and Southeast Asian offenders are currently over-represented in the Correctional Service of Canada population compared to their representation in the Canadian population.
Aboriginal women offenders were more likely than their Black or White counterparts to be assessed as high risk (34%) and need (63%), be convicted of violent offences (61%), be gang-affiliated (22%), or be involved in institutional incidents.
Aboriginal male offenders were most likely to be assessed as having high overall risk (62%) and need (76%). All male visible minority offenders had greater need in the area of negative or pro-criminal associations than White male offenders.
Aboriginal (70%), Latin American (60%), and Black (57%) male offenders were more likely to have been convicted of violent offences than White males (54%) while Southeast Asian (62%), Chinese (58%), Arab/West Asian (40%), Latin American (39%), Black (39%) and South Asian (37%) male offenders were more likely to have been convicted of drug-related offences than White males (30%).
The group with the highest gang membership was Aboriginal male offenders (25%) followed by Black (22%), South Asian (18%), Latin American (18%), Southeast Asian (18%), Chinese (15%), Arab/West Asian (13%) and White (10%) male offenders.
Aboriginal offenders (25%) were most likely to be perpetrators or associates involved in major incidents, while South Asian offenders (58%) were most likely to play these roles in minor incidents. In both cases, Black male offenders followed closely behind.
What it means
Recent increases in the number of non-Aboriginal visible minority offenders may require the Service to develop or modify institutional and community interventions and services to respond to the risks and needs of these ethnocultural groups.
For more information
Gottschall, S. (2012) Ethnic Diversity in Canadian Federal Offender Admissions. Research Report, R-263. Ottawa, Ontario: Correctional Service of Canada.
To obtain a PDF version of the full report, contact the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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