Ethnocultural Offenders in Federal Custody: Population Trends

Research Highlights: Most ethnocultural groups in CSC's offender population have increased, and some are overrepresented.


No R-446_P


A full PDF is also available for download on the Government of Canada Publications.

ISBN: 978-0-660-46164-9
Cat. No.: PS83-5/R446E-2-PDF

Research at a Glance: PDF

Why we did this study

The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) has an ethnoculturally diverse offender population. Study 1 of a three-part study examined diversity trends over an 11-year period in the federal offender population specific to non-White and non-Indigenous offenders.

What we did

Diversity trends were examined from end of Fiscal Years 2009/2010 to 2019/2020. Data from CSC's Corporate Reporting System-Modernized were compared to Statistics Canada 2016 Census data. Ethnocultural groups were based on self-reported data collected at intake.

What we found

Most ethnocultural (non-White and non-Indigenous) groups of men and women at CSC increased over the period examined. However, overall, the rate of growth of the ethnocultural population in CSC has slowed considerably compared to what was seen between 2000 and 2009Footnote 1. Relative to the Canadian general population, Black men and women and Southeast Asian men were overrepresented in CSC's population. Arab/West Asian men were found to be the fastest growing offender group, increasing by 76% over the study period. South Asian, Chinese, Filipino, and Arab/West Asian men were underrepresented in the federal offender population.

The population trends for men during the study period are displayed in Figure 1. Although there was a decline in the Black men offender population from 2015/2016 to 2018/2019, this decline mirrored an increase in the number of offenders in the 'No Data' group (i.e., no ethnocultural data). Conversely, the population of Black men increased between 2018/2019 and 2019/2020, which paralleled the decline in the 'No Data' group. Similar trends were seen among Black women, where the decline from an earlier high at 2012/2013 coincided with an increase in the 'No Data' group.

Figure 1. Number of men at CSC, end of Fiscal Year snapshots 2009/2010 to 2019/2020 by ethnocultural group

Figure 1
Note. Vertical red line indicates change in self-identification categories at CSC. The 'Other' category includes men offenders identifying as Japanese, Korean, Multiracial/ethnic, Unknown and Unable to Specify. Includes men serving provincial sentences at CSC, n = 1,696.
Figure 1. Text version

The figure in the one-pager presents the population trends in CSC's offender population across fiscal years and ethnocultural group for men. The horizontal axis presents the fiscal years ranging from 2009/2010 to 2019/2020 and the number of men identified for each ethnocultural group is reflected on the vertical axis. Black men were the ethnocultural group (i.e., non-White and non-Indigenous) most represented within CSC's offender population. The number of Black men increased 24% from the end of fiscal year 2009/2010 to 2019/2020. Although there was an apparent decline in the number of Black men from 2015/2016 to 2018/2019, this decline mirrored an increase in the number of offenders without ethnocultural data entered into the system at intake. Although the number of individuals in the remaining ethnocultural groups (Arab/West Asian, Chinese, Filipino, Latin American, South Asian, South East Asian, Other) was consistently less than 500 across the fiscal years, the Arab/West Asian offender population grew the most, increasing by 76%.

What it means

CSC's offender population continues to be increasingly diverse. Understanding population trends and overrepresentation of certain ethnocultural groups can provide important information with respect to areas for further examination and action to support offender reintegration activities.

For more information

Correctional Service of Canada. (2022). Ethnocultural Offenders in Federal Custody: An Examination of Admission, In-Custody, and Community Supervision Indicators (Research Report R-446). Ottawa, Ontario: Correctional Service of Canada.

To obtain a PDF version of the full report, or for other inquiries, please e-mail the Research Branch. You can also visit the Research Publications section for a full list of reports and one-page summaries.

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