Pandemic Era Impacts on Federal Admissions

Research Highlights: Substantial pandemic era declines in admissions to federal custody were observed except for Indigenous people.


No RIB-22-06


Research in Brief- PDF

Pandemic Era Impacts on Federal Admissions

Why we are doing this study

Over the course of five fiscal years, marked by the occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-21 and 2021-22, the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) experienced a substantial overall decline during 2020-21 (-1,725 or 24.6 %) in federal admissions from 7,003 in 2019-20 down to 5,278 in 2020-21. However, there was a sizable increase (+962 or 18.2 %) of federal admissions to 6,240 in 2021-22. Similarly, the number of Indigenous admissions declined in 2020-21 (-364 or 16.2%) from 2,245 in 2019-20 to 1,881 in 2020-21. As well, there was a notable increase in Indigenous admissions (+312 or 16.6%) in 2021-22.

What we did

Historical federal admissions counts are recorded as standardized reports in CSC's Corporate Reporting System-Modernized (CRS-M). Data were extracted (May 6, 2022) to establish a five-year trend (2017-18 to 2021-22) of the admissions to custody for federally sentenced (two years or more) men, women and whether they were Indigenous. 

What we found

Overall, official counts of the federal admission population dropped significantly during the two years of the pandemic era. Men admissions declined by 653 inmates or 11% from 6,468 in 2019-20 to 5,815 in 2021-22. Federal women admissions declined by 110 inmates or 20.1% from 535 in 2019-20 to 425 in 2021-22.

As reflected in Table 1, when unpacking the custodial admissions by Indigenous and gender representation, it is notable that Indigenous men admissions declined slightly by 48 inmates or 2% from 2,016 in 2019-20 to 1,968 in 2021-22. In 2021-22, Indigenous men represented 33.8% of men admitted to federal custody up from 29.8% in 2017-18.

Indigenous women admissions had declined very slightly by four inmates or 2% from 229 in 2019-20 to 225 in 2021-22. In 2021-22 Indigenous women represented 52.9% of women admitted to federal custody up from 41.3% in 2017-18.

Table 1: Federal Admissions
  All Indigenous All Men Indigenous Men All Women Indigenous Women
17-18 7,193 2,205 6,653 1,982 540 223
18-19 7,333 2,256 6,800 2,034 533 222
19-20 7,003 2,245 6,468 2,016 535 229
20-21 5,278 1,881 4,859 1,700 419 181
21-22 6,240 2,193 5,815 1,968 425 225
Source: CRS-M
Notes: All admissions include new warrant of committal, revocations, other (i.e., international transfers).

What it means

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic period, it is clear that there had been an overall downward trend in federal admissions with a pronounced trend break in year one of the pandemic (2020-21). However, it appears that the decline was less experienced among Indigenous admissions, particularly women. As a result, Indigenous women now constitute the majority of federal women being admitted to federal custody.

For more information

Please e-mail the Research Branch.

You can also visit the Research Publications section for a full list of reports and one-page summaries.

Prepared by: Larry Motiuk and Leslie Anne Keown

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