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A Profile of Visible Minority Offenders in the Federal Canadian Correctional System

This report is also available in French. Ce rapport est également disponible en français. Veuillez vous adresser à la direction de la recherche, Service Correctionnel du Canada, 340 avenue Laurier ouest, Ottawa (Ontario) K1A 0P9. Should additional copies be required they can be obtained from the Research Branch, Correctional Service of Canada, 340 Laurier Ave., West, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0P9.

2004 No R-144

Shelley Trevethan
Christopher J. Rastin

Research Branch
Correctional Service of Canada

June 2004


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Canada has increasingly become a multiethnic and multicultural nation. Immigration to Canada over the past 100 years has shaped the country, with each new wave of immigrants adding to the Canada’s ethnic and cultural makeup (Statistics Canada, 2001). As with the Canadian population as a whole, the make-up of the federal offender population in Canada is quite diverse. In order to better understand this diversity, the present study examined visible minority offenders under the responsibility of the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC). This includes federal offenders incarcerated in correctional facilities and those serving time in the community.

This study found that, in comparison to their proportion in the Canadian population, Caucasian and Asian offenders are under-represented, while Black offenders are disproportionately represented.

The report also found that many differences exist between Caucasian and visible minority offenders. Furthermore, some differences exist among the three visible minority groups examined—Black, Asian and “other visible minority” offenders.

First of all, differences in socio-demographic characteristics were found between visible minority and Caucasian offenders. Visible minority offenders tend to be younger and less often single than Caucasian offenders. Furthermore, they are more educated and more often employed upon admission to the correctional facility. Finally, a larger proportion of visible minority offenders serving time in the community are women, as compared with Caucasian offenders.

Differences also emerged between visible minority and Caucasian offenders in the most serious offence for which they are currently incarcerated. A larger proportion of visible minority than Caucasian offenders are incarcerated for drug-related offences, but smaller proportions are incarcerated for other offences, such as property offences and sex-related offences. Differences also exist between visible minority groups. A larger proportion of Black offenders are incarcerated for robbery, while a larger proportion of Asian offenders are incarcerated for drug-related offences.

Visible minority offenders have less extensive criminal histories than Caucasian offenders. They also have fewer previous failures in community supervision, segregation, escape, and conditional release. This is more noticeable among Asian and “other visible minority” offenders than among Black offenders.

Most likely because of differences in offence type and criminal history, the current aggregate sentence length is significantly shorter for incarcerated visible minority offenders than for Caucasian offenders. This is the case for Black and “other visible minority” offenders, but not for Asian offenders. No significant differences were found between visible minority and Caucasian offenders serving time in the community.

Visible minority offenders tend to be lower risk to re-offend and have different needs than Caucasian offenders. Furthermore, some differences exist among visible minority groups, specifically that Asian offenders are lower risk and lower need.

In summary, visible minority offenders seem to be less “entrenched” in a criminal lifestyle than Caucasian offenders. They tend to have less extensive criminal histories, are incarcerated less often for offences against the person, and are lower in risk and need than Caucasian offenders. They also tend to have higher levels of education, less unemployment, and are less often single. These circumstances may help in rehabilitation. Among visible minority offenders, Black offenders tend to exhibit more problem areas than Asian or “other visible minority” offenders.

The differences in their characteristics and offence profiles may indicate that different types of programs or services may be needed to most fully meet the needs of visible minority offenders.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The authors would like to thank Collette Cousineau, Vicki Brunet, Reagan Letourneau and Michael Jeffery from the Research Branch of CSC for their help in this project.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

At the outset of the 21st century, Canada has become a multiethnic and multicultural nation. Immigration to Canada over the past 100 years has shaped the country, with each new wave of immigrants adding to the nation’s ethnic and cultural makeup. As with the Canadian population as a whole, the make-up of the federal offender population in Canada is quite diverse. In order to better understand this diversity, the present study examined visible minority offenders under the responsibility of the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC).

According to the Employment Equity Act (Department of Justice Canada, 2002), visible minorities are defined as “persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour”. For the purposes of this report, visible minorities are grouped into Black, Asian and “other visible minority”, and exclude Caucasian and Aboriginal persons.

Visible Minority Population in Canada

According to the 2001 Canadian Census of Population, almost 4 million individuals (3,983,845) identified themselves as being a member of a visible minority group (Statistics Canada, 2001)1. This accounts for 13% of the total population of Canada. This diversity in the Canadian population has been increasing steadily over the past 20 years. As illustrated in Figure 1, visible minorities accounted for 5% of the total population in 1981; this increased to 6% in 1986, 9% in 1991, and 11% in 1996 (Statistics Canada, 1981–2001).

The visible minority population is growing much faster than the overall population. Between 1996 and 2001, the overall Canadian population increased 4% while the visible minority population increased 25%. If recent immigration trends continue, the visible minority population will continue to grow rapidly over the coming decades. Projections show that by 2016, visible minorities will account for one-fifth of Canada’s population (Statistics Canada, 2001).


1 This includes Black, Asian, and other visible minority groups. It does not include Aboriginal persons.
Figure 1: Visible Minority Population in Canada
Figure 1: Visible Minority Population in Canada

Immigration has been the biggest contributor to the rapid growth of the visible minority population in Canada. Over the past 100 years, immigration patterns have helped to shape Canada. For the first 60 years of the past century, European nations and the United States were the primary sources of immigrants to Canada. Today, immigrants are more likely to be from Asian countries (CCJS, 2001). The shift in the past 40 years has been the result of a number of factors, including changes in immigration policies and international events related to the movement of migrants and refugees.

Since the late 1980s, Canada has had a proportionately higher annual intake of immigrants than the United States or Australia. Per capita, Canada receives more immigrants than these two major immigrant-receiving countries (Statistics Canada, 2001).

It is important to look at the visible minority representation in Canada as a whole. In 2001, the three largest visible minority groups—Chinese (26%), South Asians (23%) and Blacks (17%)—accounted for two-thirds of the visible minority population. Canada’s visible minority population is also composed of Filipinos (8%), Arabs and West Asians (8%), Latin Americans (5%), Southeast Asians (5%), Koreans (3%) and Japanese (2%), which together represent about 1.2 million of the total visible minority population (Statistics Canada, 2001).

It is important to note that some visible minority groups, such as Japanese or Blacks, have long histories in this country and are more likely to be Canadian-born. Approximately 3 out of 10 individuals who reported being from a visible minority group were born in Canada. However, the proportions of Canadian-born visible minorities vary greatly from group to group; this is, in large measure, a reflection of historical immigration patterns. About 65% of the Japanese were born in Canada, followed by 45% of Blacks, 29% of South Asians, 25% of Chinese, 21% of Arabs and West Asians, 20% of Latin Americans and 17% of Koreans (Statistics Canada, 2001).

Although Ontario and British Columbia contain one-half of Canada’s total population, they account for three-quarters of the visible minority population. In 2001, the majority of visible minorities in Canada lived in Ontario (54%), British Columbia (21%), Quebec (12%), and Alberta (8%). Most of the visible minorities lived in the cities of Toronto, Vancouver, Montréal, Calgary and Edmonton (Statistics Canada, 2001).

Visible Minority Representation in the Canadian Federal Correctional System

Ethnic diversity is also present in the Canadian federal correctional system (CSC, 2002; National Parole Board, 2001). This presents challenges for CSC to ensure the relevancy of programs and services for offenders, as well as appropriate training for offenders and staff. Since 1994, CSC has had a policy aimed at determining the needs and specific cultural characteristics of visible minority offenders (CSC, 2001). Furthermore, CSC provides Ethnocultural liaison services to offenders in an effort to bridge the ethnocultural gap between offenders and case management personnel (CSC, 2002).

There has been fairly extensive research conducted on Aboriginal offenders and the reasons for their over-representation (see Trevethan, 2002). Furthermore, research has been conducted on race for victims (Clancy, Hough, Aust & Kershaw, 2001, Wilbanks, 1985), as well as at the arrest and court stages (Brooke, 1994; Manyoni & Petrunik, 1989; Mosher, 1993; Myers, 1991; Samuel & Faustino-Santos, 1990; Sommers & Baskin, 1992).

Some research has been conducted on race of offenders in England/Wales and the United States. Reports from England/Wales (Ashworth & Davies, 1997; Elkins & Olgundoye, 2001) and the United States (Cullen, 1995; Pallone & Hennessy, 1999; Stephan, 2001; Wolf Harlow, 1998) found a disproportionate representation of ethnic minorities in the prison population. Ashworth and Davies (1997) found higher representation of Afro-Caribbean offenders in prisons in England and Wales (11% versus 1.5% of the country’s population), whereas South Asian (3% versus 2.7%) and Chinese or other groups (3% versus 1%) are not. Elkins & Olagundoye (2001) found that Black offenders in England/Wales comprise about six times their proportion in the population, and Asian offenders showed a higher representation. Although the proportion of Blacks in the United States population is considerably higher, there is a disproportionate representation in correctional facilities (about three times their proportion in the population) (Stephan, 2001).

Jackson (1997) conducted a study in the United States that examined the differences in the backgrounds and criminal justice characteristics of young Black, White and Hispanic male federal prison inmates. The findings revealed that the most evident differences between these groups were in the areas of person and socio-economic background characteristics. Black and Hispanic inmates were depended upon financially more often by others, had more siblings, had lower incomes and were more likely to have children than White inmates. This study also found that Black inmates were as educated as White inmates, and that White inmates were arrested more often than Black and Hispanic inmates, and more often for violent offences.

To date, relatively little research has been conducted on visible minority offenders under the supervision of the correctional system in Canada. A recent study by the National Parole Board of Canada (2001) examined differences among various cultural groups. This report found that Black offenders were over-represented within the federal offender population, while Asian and Caucasian offenders were under-represented. In addition, Caucasian offenders are over-represented in homicide offences, while Black offenders are over-represented in violent offences and Asian offenders, in drug offences. Finally, the report notes that Asian and Caucasian offenders have been over-represented in the day and full parole release categories and under-represented in the statutory release category. However, Black offenders have been over-represented in the full parole and statutory release categories and under-represented in the day parole release category.

Present Study

It is important to further examine whether the representation of visible minority groups in the federal offender population is reflective of the Canadian population. For example, while Aboriginal people in Canada comprise approximately 3% of the Canadian adult population, they comprise 18% of the federal offender population (Trevethan, Moore & Rastin, 2002). Assuming all things to be equal, one would expect to see Aboriginal offenders represent 3% of the offender population. However, this is not the case.

Furthermore, a description of various visible minority offender groups would help us better serve their needs. The present study provides an overall profile of visible minority offenders involved in the federal correctional facility in Canada. This includes a description of socio-demographic characteristics, current offence characteristics, criminal history, and static risk and dynamic need factors.

Comparisons are made among Caucasian, Black, Asian and “other visible minority” offenders.

METHOD

In order to provide a profile of visible minority offenders, a one-day snapshot of all offenders incarcerated in federal correctional facilities and offenders being supervised in the community was taken in November 2002.

Other than to provide an overall picture of the offender population, Aboriginal offenders were eliminated from this study. This was done in order to provide a clear picture of visible minority offenders in federal corrections. The inclusion of Aboriginal offenders would provide unnecessary variance to the analyses.

Measures

The Offender Management System (OMS), created in 1992, is an electronic filing system designed to monitor and track offenders under the supervision of the Correctional Service Canada. Data from the OMS are extracted and placed into databases that are then used for research purposes. The Offender Intake Assessment (OIA) is a comprehensive and integrated examination of offenders at the time of their admission. The process begins with an assessment of immediate mental and physical health concerns, security risk and suicide potential. Next, the two core components of the OIA are assessed: the Criminal Risk Assessment (CRA) and the Dynamic Factor Identification and Analysis (DFIA). This information is then used to determine the offender’s institutional placement and correctional plan. While case management conducts and coordinates the OIA process, additional information is obtained from various specialists including psychologists, psychiatrists, and educational and vocational experts (Motiuk, 1997).

For the purposes of this study, offenders were grouped into one of four visible minority groups: Caucasian, Black, Asian and “other visible minority”. The Caucasian and Black groups were not modified due to their substantial population size in the federal offender population, relative to the other visible minority offender populations. Asiatic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, South Asian and South East Asian offenders were grouped into the “Asian” category. Arab/West Asian, Hispanic, Filipino, Latin American, East Indian and “Other” offenders were grouped into the “other visible minority” category.

Participants

On November 4, 2002, there were 12,492 incarcerated offenders; information on race was available for 12,414 of these offenders2. The Caucasian offender group consisted of 8,787 participants. The Black offender group consisted of 773 participants. The Asian offender group was composed of 277 participants (88 Asiatic, 88 South East Asian, 50 South Asian, 45 Chinese, 4 Korean, and 2 Japanese offenders). The “other visible minority” offender group consisted of 334 participants (71 Arab, 44 Latin American, 27 East Indian, 19 Filipino, 19 Hispanic, and 154 “other” offenders). Each group was composed of approximately 3% women. Excluded from most analyses were Aboriginal offenders (n = 2,243).

In addition to incarcerated offenders, there were 9,185 offenders serving time in the community; information on race was available for 9,135 of these offenders3. The Caucasian offender group consisted of 6,570 participants. The Black offender group consisted of 607 participants. The Asian offender group was composed of 409 participants (195 Asiatic, 92 South East Asian, 54 South Asian, 59 Chinese, 5 Korean, and 4 Japanese offenders). The “other visible minority” offender group consisted of 412 participants (77 Arab, 42 East Indian, 33 Latin American, 31 Filipino, 38 Hispanic, and 191 “other” offenders). Excluded from most analyses were Aboriginal offenders (n = 1,137).


2 Racial information was missing for 78 incarcerated offenders.
3 Racial information was missing for 50 offenders serving time in the community.

FINDINGS

Offenders are Culturally Diverse

On any given day in 2002, there were approximately 12,500 (12,492) offenders incarcerated in federal facilities in Canada. As illustrated in Figure 2, offenders are culturally diverse. Excluding the 78 offenders for whom racial information was not available, about three-quarters (71%) of offenders were Caucasian (8,787). A further 12% were First Nations (1,523), 6% were Black (773), 5% were Métis (628), and approximately 1% each were Inuit (92), Asiatic (88), South East Asian (88), and Arab (71). The remaining were other visible minority groups—Other (154), South Asian (50), Chinese (45), Latin American (44), East Indian (27), Hispanic (19), Filipino (19), Korean (4) and Japanese (2).

Figure 2: Racial Distribution of Offenders
Figure 2: Racial Distribution of Offenders

Furthermore, on any given day, there were approximately 9,200 (9,185) offenders serving time in the community on day parole, full parole or statutory release. Excluding the 50 offenders for whom racial information was not available, 72% were Caucasian (6,570), 8% were First Nations (776), 7% were Black (607), 4% were Métis (332), 2% were Asiatic (195), and approximately 1% each were South East Asian (92), Arab (77), Chinese (59) and South Asian (54). The remaining were other races—Other (191), East Indian (42), Hispanic (38), Latin American (33), Filipino (31), Inuit (29), Korean (5) and Japanese (4).

In order to further illustrate, the offenders were classified into five groups: Caucasian, Aboriginal, Black, Asian and “other visible minority” offenders. As illustrated in Figure 3, with regard to incarcerated offenders, Caucasian offenders constituted roughly 71% of the offender population in federal facilities (n = 8,787). Aboriginal offenders were the second largest group, composing 18% of the incarcerated offenders (n = 2,243). Black offenders composed about 6% of the total incarcerated offender population (n = 773). This is followed by “other visible minority” offenders, who constituted about 3% of the offender population (n = 334), and the smallest group, Asian offenders, who made up approximately 2% of incarcerated offenders (n = 277).

Figure 3: Five Offender Groups (1)
Figure 3: Five Offender Groups

1 Of offenders serving time in the community, 72% were Caucasian (n = 6,570), 12% were Aboriginal (n = 1,137), 7% were Black (n = 607), 5% were “other visible minority” offenders (n = 412) and 4% were Asian (n = 409).

Over-Representation of Black, but not Asian Offenders

In combination, visible minority persons account for approximately 11% of those incarcerated and 16% of those serving time in the community (14% of those released on day parole; 20% released on full parole; and 11% released on statutory release). Visible minorities as a whole do not appear to be over-represented among incarcerated offenders, since they account for 13% of the population in Canada (Statistics Canada, 2001). However, there is a slight over-representation of visible minority offenders serving time in the community on some form of conditional release. The reasons for the larger proportion of visible minority offenders serving time in the community is most likely due to the offences for which they are incarcerated and criminal history. These factors will be discussed later in this report.

Differences emerge when specific groups are examined. For instance, although they account for about 2% of the population in Canada, Blacks make up 6% of offenders incarcerated in federal correctional facilities and 7% of those serving time in the community. Asians are not over-represented—they account for 8% of the population in Canada, but only 2% of incarcerated offenders and 4% of those serving time in the community. Persons from “other” cultural groups are not over-represented among those incarcerated, but are slightly over-represented among those serving time in the community—they compose 3% of the population in Canada, compared with 3% of incarcerated offenders and 5% of those serving time in the community.

The findings indicate that Caucasians, along with Asians, are under-represented in the Canadian federal correctional system, while Blacks are over-represented. As noted earlier, there is a similar disproportionate representation of Blacks in correctional facilities in the United States (Stephan, 2001) and England/Wales (Elkins & Olgundoye, 2001). Furthermore, according to Elkins and Olgundoye, Asians are also over-represented in England/Wales.

Increases in the Proportion of Visible Minority Offenders Over Time

The proportion of visible minority offenders has increased over the last decade. In 1994, visible minorities represented approximately 9% (1,251) of those incarcerated. This increased to 11% in 1997 (1,578) and has remained relatively stable since then. Similarly, there have been increases in the proportion of visible minority offenders serving time in the community. In 1994, visible minorities represented 10% (957) of those serving time in the community. This increased to 16% in 2000 (1,596) and has remained relatively stable since then (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Proportion of Visible Minority (1)
Figure 4: Proportion of Visible Minority

These increases have occurred among Black, Asian and “other visible minority” groups (see Table 1-A and Table 1-B in Appendix A).

Largest Proportion of Visible Minority Offenders in the Ontario Region

Are there larger proportions of visible minority offenders in particular regions? As illustrated in Figure 5, the largest proportions of visible minority offenders are located in Ontario. In the Ontario and Quebec regions, visible minority offenders are disproportionately represented in both institutions and the community. In the Atlantic region, they are not over-represented in the community, but are slightly over-represented in institutions. In the Prairie and Pacific regions, visible minority persons are not over-represented.

Figure 5: Visible Minority Offenders by Region
Figure 5: Visible Minority Offenders by Region

In relation to specific groups, the majority of Caucasian offenders were incarcerated in the Quebec (31%) and Ontario (27%) regions, followed by the Prairie (17%), Pacific (14%) and Atlantic (11%) regions (see Table 2-A). Black offenders were most likely to be incarcerated in the Ontario region (56%), followed by the Quebec (19%), Atlantic (12%), Prairie (10%) and Pacific (3%) regions. The majority of Asian offenders were incarcerated in the Ontario region (38%), followed by the Pacific (32%), Prairie (26%), Quebec (4%) and Atlantic (1%) regions. The “other visible minority” offender group was most likely to be incarcerated in the Ontario (35%) and Prairie (25%) regions, followed by Quebec (21%), Pacific (17%) and Atlantic (2%) regions.

With regards to region of release into the community, the majority of Caucasian offenders were released into the Quebec (33%) and Ontario (25%) regions, followed by the Prairie (18%), Pacific (12%) and Atlantic (12%) regions. Black offenders were most likely to be released into the Ontario region (63%), followed by the Quebec (19%), Prairie (8%), Atlantic (6%) and Pacific (3%) regions. The majority of Asian offenders were released into the Ontario region (42%), followed by the Prairie (30%), Pacific (21%), Quebec (6%) and Atlantic (<1%) regions. The “other visible minority” offender group was most often released into the Ontario (41%) and Prairie (23%) regions, followed by the Quebec (18%), Pacific (16%) and Atlantic (2%) regions.

Differences in Socio-Demographic Characteristics

Some differences in socio-demographic characteristics exist between visible minority and Caucasian offenders. Although, no significant differences were found in gender among incarcerated offenders (98% of Caucasian and 97% of visible minority offenders were male) (see Figure 6), among those serving time in the community, significant differences were noted. In total, 96% of Caucasian offenders serving time in the community were male, compared with 92% of visible minority offenders. This is primarily due to Black offenders, where 89% were male (Table 2-B). This indicates that larger proportions of visible minority women are serving their sentences in the community.

At the time of admission to the federal correctional facility, visible minority offenders were younger than Caucasian offenders. As illustrated in Figure 6, about one-half (54%) of Caucasian offenders were under 35 years of age, compared with 71% of visible minority offenders. Caucasian offenders had the highest mean age at the time of admission (35 years), followed by “other visible minority” (33 years), Asian (31 years) and Black (30 years) offenders. Similar results were evident among those serving time in the community (see Table 2-B).

A smaller proportion of visible minority offenders than Caucasian offenders were single at the time of admission. Among incarcerated offenders, about one-half of Caucasian offenders (49%) were single, compared with 45% of visible minority offenders. As seen in Table 2-A, Asian offenders were most likely to be single (52%). Although the proportion who were single was smaller, similar findings between Caucasian and visible minority offenders were evident among offenders serving time in the community (42% versus 39%).

Figure 6: Socio-Demographic Characteristics (1)
Figure 6: Socio-Demographic Characteristics

Smaller proportions of visible minority offenders than Caucasian offenders were uneducated or unemployed. For instance, whereas 47% of incarcerated Caucasian offenders had less than a grade 10 education at the time of admission to the correctional facility, this was the case for only 39% of visible minority offenders. Similarly, this was the case for 42% of Caucasian offenders serving time in the community compared with 37% of visible minority offenders.

Furthermore, two-thirds (67%) of Caucasian offenders were unemployed at arrest, compared with 62% of visible minority offenders. Similarly, 57% of Caucasian and 53% of visible minority offenders serving time in the community were unemployed at arrest.

These findings indicate that differences exist in the socio-demographic characteristics of visible minority offenders. They tend to be younger and less often single than Caucasian offenders. Furthermore, they are more educated and more often employed upon admission to the correctional facility. Finally, larger proportions of visible minority offenders serving time in the community are women. This indicates that different types of programs or services may be needed to best address their circumstances. For instance, educational programming may not be as important an area to address for some visible minority offenders.

Incarcerated for Different Offences

As illustrated in Figure 7, of those who are incarcerated, the most serious offence for which the largest proportion of visible minority offenders are incarcerated is robbery, followed by murder, drug-related offences and sexual offences. The most serious offences for the largest proportion of Caucasian offenders are also robbery and murder.

However, visible minority offenders are incarcerated more often for drug-related offences and attempted murder than Caucasian offenders, but less often for other offences, particularly property offences and sex offences.

Differences were found when specific groups are examined (see Table 3-A). A substantially larger proportion of Black offenders (32%) are currently incarcerated for robbery than Asian (16%) or “other visible minority” offenders (17%). A substantially larger proportion of Asian offenders (25%) are currently incarcerated for drug-related offences, compared with Black (11%) or “other visible minority” offenders (12%).

Among those serving time in the community, the largest proportion of visible minority offenders were serving time for drug-related offences (46%), followed by robbery (15%) and homicide (9%). Caucasian offenders were serving time for homicide (22%), robbery (20%) and property offences (16%). Similar between-group differences were found as with the incarcerated group.

Figure 7: Current Most Serious Offence
Figure 7: Current Most Serious Offence

Among incarcerated offenders, the aggregate sentence length for the current conviction is significantly shorter for visible minority than Caucasian offenders (6.1 versus 6.4 years). This is mainly due to “other visible minority” offenders (5.6 years) and Black offenders (6.1 years), rather than Asian offenders (6.5 years) (see Table 3-A). No significant differences were found on aggregate sentence length between visible minority and Caucasian offenders serving time in the community.

Less Extensive Criminal History

Visible minority offenders have less extensive criminal histories than Caucasian offenders. This is the case for previous youth and adult court convictions, previous community supervision, and provincial and federal terms (Figure 8).

Figure 8: Criminal History
Figure 8: Criminal History

They also are less often to have failed in various areas, such as community supervision, segregation, escape, and conditional release (Figure 9). This was also the case among those serving time in the community (Table 4-B).

Although the largest proportion of all visible minority offenders have less extensive criminal histories, this is even more noticeable for Asian and “other visible minority” offenders than for Black offenders (Table 4-A and Table 4-B).

Figure 9: Past Failures (1)
Figure 9: Past Failures

Lower Risk to Re-offend and Different Needs

As illustrated in Figure 10, visible minority offenders tend to be rated as lower risk to re-offend than Caucasian offenders. Of those incarcerated, 60% of Caucasian offenders, compared with 51% of visible minority offenders, were rated high risk to re-offend at the time of intake. Of those serving time in the community, 36% of Caucasian versus 20% of visible minority offenders were rated as high risk to re-offend. Although this is the case for all visible minority offenders, Asian and “other visible minority” offenders were lower risk than Black offenders (see Table 5-A and Table 5-B).

Figure 10: Risk to Re-offend
Figure 10: Risk to Re-offend

CSC has information on needs that is collected when offenders first enter the institution. Overall, incarcerated visible minority offenders are considered lower need for intervention than Caucasian offenders. Approximately two-thirds (69%) of Caucasian offenders were rated as high need for intervention generally, compared with 55% of visible minority offenders. As illustrated in Figure 11, visible minority offenders were lower need on the following domains: community functioning, marital/family, personal/emotional orientation and substance abuse. However, they are higher need on associates and attitude. There were no significant differences on employment (also see Table 5-A).

Although the levels of need were lower overall at the time of admission to the correctional facility, the results were similar among those serving time in the community. One exception was that a larger proportion of visible minority offenders serving time in the community had high need on employment as compared with Caucasian offenders. No significant differences were found on community functioning or attitude (Table 5-B).

Figure 11: Dynamic Needs (1)
Figure 11: Dynamic Needs

As seen in Table 5-B, although Black, Asian and “other visible minority” offenders tended to be similar in their areas of need, some differences existed. For instance, a larger proportion of Asian offenders were rated as having “some or considerable” need in the area of associates when compared with Black or “other visible minority” offenders.

Among incarcerated offenders, a slightly larger proportion of Caucasian offenders were rated as having high motivation for intervention (21% versus 17% for visible minority offenders). Similarly, a larger proportion were rated as having high reintegration potential (39% versus 28%). Among those serving time in the community, no significant differences were found on motivation for intervention at the time of admission to the institution. However, a larger proportion of visible minority offenders were rated as having high reintegration potential (61% versus 47%).

Once again, among groups, Black offenders tended to have lower motivation for intervention and lower reintegration potential than Asian and “other visible minority” offenders (Table 5-B).

Although they tended to be rated as lower risk to re-offend and lower need overall, a slightly larger proportion of visible minority than Caucasian offenders were rated as maximum security on the Custody Rating Scale (CRS) at the time of admission to federal custody (24% versus 21%). Among groups, however, Black offenders (28%) were more likely to be rated as maximum security than Asian (20%) or “other visible minority” (18%) offenders. Among those serving time in the community, a slightly larger proportion of Caucasian than visible minority offenders were rated as maximum security (7% compared with 5%) at the time of intake to the federal correctional facility.

These findings indicate that visible minority offenders tend to be lower risk and have different needs than Caucasian offenders. Furthermore, some differences exist among visible minority groups. It may be important to tailor programs and services to the specific needs of these groups.

Larger Proportion Released on Full Parole

Of the visible minority offenders serving time in the community, 63% are on full parole, 25% are on statutory release and 12% are on day parole. A smaller proportion of Caucasian offenders are on full parole (51%), a larger proportion are on statutory release (36%) and a similar proportion (13%) are on day parole.

Among other determinants, the decision to grant full parole is also based upon criminal history, past failures on release and risk to re-offend. The larger proportion of visible minority than Caucasian offenders who receive full parole may be partly attributed to the fact that they tend to have less extensive criminal histories, fewer failures on past releases, and are rated as lower risk to re-offend.

CONCLUSION

This study illustrates that federal offenders are culturally diverse. Although approximately three-quarters of offenders incarcerated in federal correctional facilities and serving time in the community are Caucasian, approximately 11% of incarcerated offenders and 16% of those serving time in the community are visible minority offenders (Black, Asian and “other visible minority”).

The proportion of visible minority offenders has increased over the last decade. In 1994, visible minority persons represented approximately 9% of those incarcerated. This increased to 11% in 1997 and has remained relatively stable since then. Similarly, there have been increases in the proportion of visible minority offenders serving time in the community. In 1994, visible minorities represented 10% of those serving time in the community; this increased to 16% in 2000 and has remained relatively stable since then.

Visible minority persons as a whole do not appear to be over-represented among incarcerated offenders, since they account for 13% of the population in Canada (Statistics Canada, 2001). However, there seems to be a slight over-representation of visible minority offenders serving time in the community on some form of conditional release. While Asian offenders are not over-represented, Black offenders are disproportionately represented in the CSC offender population. Although they account for about 2% of the population in Canada, Blacks make up 6% of offenders incarcerated in federal correctional facilities and 7% of those serving time in the community.

This report found substantial differences between Caucasian and visible minority offenders. Furthermore, some differences exist among the three visible minority groups examined—Black, Asian and “other visible minority” offenders.

First of all, differences in socio-demographic characteristics were found between visible minority and Caucasian offenders. Visible minority offenders tend to be younger and less often single than Caucasian offenders. Furthermore, they are more educated and more often employed upon admission to the correctional facility. Finally, a larger proportion of those serving time in the community are women.

Differences also emerged between visible minority and Caucasian offenders in the most serious offence for which they are currently incarcerated. Visible minority offenders are incarcerated more often for drug-related offences than Caucasian offenders, but less often for other offences, such as property offences and sex-related offences. Differences also exist among the visible minority groups: a larger proportion of Black offenders are incarcerated for robbery, while a larger proportion of Asian offenders are currently incarcerated for drug-related offences.

Most likely because of differences in offence type and criminal history, the current aggregate sentence length is significantly shorter for incarcerated visible minority offenders than Caucasian offenders. This was the case for Black and “other visible minority” offenders, but not for Asian offenders. No significant differences were found between visible minority and Caucasian offenders serving time in the community.

Visible minority offenders tend to have less extensive criminal histories than Caucasian offenders. They also are less often to have failed in various areas, such as community supervision, segregation, escape, and conditional release. This is even more noticeable among Asian and “other visible minority” offenders than among Black offenders.

Visible minority offenders tend to be lower risk to re-offend and have different needs than Caucasian offenders. Furthermore, some differences exist among visible minority groups; specifically, Asian offenders are lower risk and lower need. It may be important to tailor programs and services to the specific needs of these groups.

In summary, visible minority offenders tend to be less “entrenched” in a criminal lifestyle than Caucasian offenders. They tend to have less extensive criminal histories, are incarcerated less often for offences against the person, and are lower in risk and need than Caucasian offenders. They also tend to have higher levels of education, less unemployment, and are less often single. These are areas that may help in rehabilitation. Among visible minority offenders, Black offenders tend to exhibit more problem areas than Asian or “other visible minority” offenders.

The differences in their characteristics and offence profiles may indicate that different types of programs or services may be needed to fully meet the needs of visible minority offenders.

Future research should examine the recidivism patterns of visible minority offenders, and assess the predictive validity of risk variables relating to recidivism in these visible minority groups.

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APPENDIX A: TABLES

Table 1-A
Proportion of visible minority offenders
Institution
  1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
Group # % # % # % # % # % # % # % # % # %

  13,568 100% 14,367 100% 13,571 100% 14,093 100% 13,245 100% 13,004 100% 12,714 100% 12,624 100% 12,414 100%

Caucasian 10,345 76% 10,703 74% 10,009 74% 10,163 72% 9,373 71% 9,153 70% 9,039 71% 8,993 71% 8,787 71%
Aboriginal 1,972 15% 2,178 15% 2,118 16% 2,352 17% 2,364 18% 2,368 18% 2,269 18% 2,195 17% 2,243 18%
Black 740 5% 854 6% 838 6% 867 6% 841 6% 821 6% 761 6% 766 6% 773 6%
Asian 219 2% 289 2% 285 2% 361 3% 340 3% 324 2% 297 2% 320 3% 277 2%
Other 292 2% 343 2% 321 2% 350 2% 327 2% 338 3% 348 3% 350 3% 334 3%
Table 1-B
Proportion of visible minority offenders
Community
  1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
Group # % # % # % # % # % # % # % # % # %

    9,584 100%   9,344 100%   9,195 100%   9,126 100%   9,467 100%   9,896 100%   10,063 100%   9,814 100%   9,135 100%

Caucasian 7,767 81% 7,569 81% 7,197 78% 6,986 77% 7,061 75% 7,251 73% 7,233 72% 7,100 72% 6,570 72%
Aboriginal 860 9% 784 8% 796 9% 894 10% 1,036 11% 1,129 11% 1,234 12% 1,226 12% 1,137 12%
Black 478 5% 490 5% 607 7% 620 7% 641 7% 713 7% 711 7% 664 7% 607 7%
Asian 168 2% 184 2% 261 3% 268 3% 337 4% 387 4% 442 4% 406 4% 409 4%
Other 311 3% 317 3% 334 4% 358 4% 392 4% 416 4% 443 4% 418 4% 412 5%
Table 2-A
Demographic and socio-economic characteristics
Institution
  Caucasian Black Asian Other
# % # % # % # %

Total 8,787   773   277   334  

Region 8,787 100% 773 100% 277 100% 334 100%
Atlantic 936 11% 91 12% 3 1% 7 2%
Quebec 2,749 31% 145 19% 10 4% 69 21%
Ontario 2,376 27% 431 56% 105 38% 116 35%
Prairie 1,508 17% 81 10% 71 26% 85 25%
Pacific 1,218 14% 25 3% 88 32% 57 17%
 
Gender 8,787 100% 773 100% 277 100% 334 100%
Men 8,576 98% 745 96% 269 97% 326 98%
Women 211 2% 28 4% 8 3% 8 2%
 
Age at admission 8,787 100% 773 100% 277 100% 334 100%
Under 35 4,713 54% 579 75% 190 69% 212 63%
35 and over 4,074 46% 194 25% 87 31% 122 37%
Mean age 35.1 yrs 30.1 yrs 31.1 yrs 32.6 yrs
 
Marital status at admission 8,743 100% 767 100% 273 100% 330 100%
Single 4,244 49% 333 43% 142 52% 148 45%
Married/common-law 3,303 38% 386 50% 111 41% 129 39%
Separated/divorced 1,043 12% 44 6% 16 6% 37 11%
Other 153 2% 4 1% 4 1% 16 5%
 
Education at admission 6,619 100% 658 100% 233 100% 288 100%
Under Grade 10 3,088 47% 245 37% 89 38% 125 43%
Grade 10 and over 3,531 53% 413 63% 144 62% 163 57%
 
Employment at arrest 6,625 100% 662 100% 236 100% 287 100%
Employed 2,193 33% 232 35% 100 42% 121 42%
Unemployed 4,432 67% 430 65% 136 58% 166 58%
Table 2-B
Demographic and socio-economic characteristics
Community
  Caucasian Black Asian Other
# % # % # % # %

Total 8,787   773   277   334  

Region 6 561 100% 607 100% 408 100% 410 100%
Atlantic 775 12% 38 6% 1 0% 9 2%
Québec 2 183 33% 113 19% 24 6% 75 18%
Ontario 1 618 25% 385 63% 173 42% 168 41%
Praries 1 202 18% 50 8% 124 30% 93 23%
Pacific 783 12% 21 3% 86 21% 65 16%
 
Gender 6 570 100% 607 100% 409 100% 412 100%
Male 6 285 96% 540 89% 379 93% 389 94%
Female 285 4% 67 11% 30 7% 23 6%
 
Age at admission 6 570 100% 607 100% 409 100% 411 100%
Under 35 years 3 433 52% 403 66% 268 66% 231 56%
35 and above 3 137 48% 204 34% 141 34% 180 44%
Mean Age 35,6 ans 32,1 ans 32,0 ans 34,8 ans
 
Marital status at admission 6 527 100% 600 100% 407 100% 407 100%
Single 2 756 42% 231 39% 187 46% 134 33%
Married/Common Law 2 921 45% 314 52% 180 44% 219 54%
Seperated/Divorced 751 12% 47 8% 36 9% 51 13%
Other 99 2% 8 1% 4 1% 3 1%
 
Education at admission 4 499 100% 481 100% 341 100% 317 100%
Under Grade 10 1 901 42% 175 36% 137 40% 108 34%
Grade 10 and over 2 598 58% 306 64% 204 60% 209 66%
 
Employment at arrest 2 598 100% 485 100% 340 100% 315 100%
Employed 1 921 43% 215 44% 157 46% 166 53%
Unemployed 2 583 57% 270 56% 183 54% 149 47%
Tableau 3-A
Current most serious offence
Institution
  Caucasian Black Asian Other
Most serious offence # % # % # % # %

  8,782 100% 773 100% 277 100% 334 100%

Homicide 2,136 24% 169 22% 67 24% 92 28%
Attempted murder 202 2% 32 4% 18 6% 12 4%
Sexual assault 1,240 14% 96 12% 21 8% 51 15%
Robbery 2,215 25% 248 32% 44 16% 57 17%
Assault 803 9% 86 11% 20 7% 40 12%
Other violent offences 169 2% 8 1% 9 3% 6 2%
Property offences 1,218 14% 27 3% 12 4% 18 5%
Drug-related offences 499 6% 88 11% 70 25% 41 12%
Impaired driving 36 0% 1 0% 1 0% 0 0%
Other Criminal Code and federal statutes 264 3% 18 2% 15 5% 17 5%
 
Mean aggregate sentence1 6.4 yrs 6.1 yrs 6.5 yrs 5.6 yrs

1 Mean aggregate sentence is calculated with life sentences removed.
Tableau 3-B
Current most serious offence
Community
  Caucasian Black Asian Other
Most serious offence # % # % # % # %

  6,540 100% 602 100% 407 100% 410 100%

Homicide 1,443 22% 57 9% 29 7% 39 10%
Attempted murder 116 2% 18 3% 6 1% 11 3%
Sexual assault 660 10% 39 6% 11 3% 30 7%
Robbery 1,304 20% 143 24% 30 7% 34 8%
Assault 364 6% 51 8% 7 2% 20 5%
Other violent offences 109 2% 2 0% 13 3% 6 1%
Property offences 1,048 16% 29 5% 9 2% 23 6%
Drug-related offences 1,023 16% 224 37% 236 58% 198 48%
Impaired driving 51 1% 2 0% 1 0% 1 0%
Other Criminal Code and federal statutes 422 6% 37 6% 65 16% 48 12%
 
Mean aggregate sentence1 6.1 yrs 6.0 yrs 6.6 yrs 5.9 yrs

1 Mean aggregate sentence is calculated with life sentences removed.
Tableau 4-A
Criminal history
Institution
  Caucasian Black Asian Other
# % # % # % # %
 
Previous youth convictions 6,475 100% 647 100% 227 100% 278 100%
Yes 2,951 46% 303 47% 57 25% 70 25%
No 3,524 54% 344 53% 170 75% 208 75%
 
Previous adult convictions 6,526 100% 651 100% 233 100% 283 100%
Yes 5,623 86% 502 77% 153 66% 195 69%
No 903 14% 149 23% 80 34% 88 31%
 
Previous community supervision 6,519 100% 651 100% 233 100% 282 100%
Yes 5,007 77% 406 62% 118 51% 149 53%
No 1,512 23% 245 38% 115 49% 133 47%
 
Previous provincial term 6,523 100% 651 100% 233 100% 283 100%
Yes 4,801 74% 391 60% 92 39% 136 48%
No 1,722 26% 260 40% 141 61% 147 52%
 
Previous federal term 6,524 100% 651 100% 233 100% 283 100%
Yes 2,413 37% 154 24% 24 10% 32 11%
No 4,111 63% 497 76% 209 90% 251 89%
 
Failed – community sanction 6,480 100% 647 100% 233 100% 281 100%
Yes 4,056 63% 313 48% 80 34% 99 35%
No 2,253 52% 318 72% 283 88% 254 84%
 
Failed – conditional release 6,457 100% 642 100% 233 100% 279 100%
Yes 2,938 46% 192 30% 46 20% 49 18%
No 3,519 54% 450 70% 187 80% 230 82%
 
Segregation for disciplinary infraction 6,245 100% 607 100% 225 100% 273 100%
Yes 2,228 36% 178 29% 25 11% 37 14%
No 4,017 64% 429 71% 200 89% 236 86%
 
Escape/attempt/UAL 6,494 100% 646 100% 231 100% 281 100%
Yes 1,914 29% 92 14% 14 6% 21 7%
No 4,580 71% 554 86% 217 94% 260 93%
 
Reclassified to higher security level 6,363 100% 625 100% 228 100% 280 100%
Yes 1,408 22% 90 14% 13 6% 16 16%
No 4,955v 78% 535 86% 215 94% 264 94%
 
6 months since last incarceration 6,518 100% 650 100% 230 100% 282 100%
Yes 1,677 26% 138 21% 38 17% 56 20%
No 4,841 74% 512 79% 192 83% 226 80%
 
No crime-free period of 1 year 6,511 100% 646 100% 233 100% 282 100%
Yes 1,273 20% 108 17% 33 14% 36 13%
No 5,238 80% 538 83% 200 86% 246 87%
Tableau 4-B
Criminal history
Community
  Caucasian Black Asian Other
# % # % # % # %
 
Previous youth convictions 4,302 100% 449 100% 321 100% 299 100%
Yes 1,539 36% 126 28% 47 15% 46 15%
No 2,763 64% 323 72% 274 85% 253 85%
 
Previous adult convictions 4,334 100% 449 100% 325 100% 303 100%
Yes 3,433 79% 262 58% 153 47% 143 47%
No 901 21% 187 42% 172 53% 160 53%
 
Previous community supervision 4,327 100% 448 100% 324 100% 303 100%
Yes 2,879 67% 195 44% 87 27% 99 33%
No 1,448 33% 253 56% 237 73% 204 67%
 
Previous provincial term 4,329 100% 449 100% 324 100% 303 100%
Yes 2,701 62% 1918 43% 80 25% 68 22%
No 1,628 38% 258 57% 244 75% 235 78%
 
Previous federal term 4,332 100% 448 100% 324 100% 303 100%
Yes 1,032 24% 42 9% 15 5% 15 5%
No 3,300 76% 406 91% 309 95% 288 95%
 
Failed – community sanction 4,300 100% 443 100% 323 100% 302 100%
Yes 2,047 48% 125 28% 40 12% 48 16%
No 2,253 52% 318 72% 283 88% 254 84%
 
Failed – conditional release 4,297 100% 444 100% 322 100% 303 100%
Yes 1,394 32% 74 17% 21 7% 22 7%
No 2,903 68% 370 83% 301 93% 281 93%
 
Segregation for disciplinary infraction 4,162 100% 426 100% 317 100% 300 100%
Yes 864 21% 48 11% 7 2% 10 3%
No 3,298 79% 378 89% 310 98% 290 97%
 
Escape/attempt/UAL 4,310 100% 443 100% 323 100% 303 100%
Yes 856 20% 29 7% 4 1% 8 3%
No 3,454 80% 414 93% 319 99% 295 97%
 
Reclassified to higher security level 4,262 100% 436 100% 321 100% 303 100%
Yes 517 12% 19 4% 2 1% 4 1%
No 3,745 88% 417 96% 319 99% 299 99%
 
6 months since last incarceration 4,330 100% 448 100% 324 100% 303 100%
Yes 746 17% 58 13% 13 4% 11 4%
No 3,584 83% 390 87% 311 96% 292 96%
 
No crime-free period of 1 year 4,327 100% 448 100% 324 100% 303 100%
Yes 484 11% 39 9% 10 3% 7 2%
No 3,843 89% 409 91% 314 97% 296 98%
Tableau 5-A
Static and dynamic factors
Institution
  Caucasian Black Asian Other
# % # % # % # %
 
Security level at admission 7,807 100% 735 100% 264 100% 308 100%
Minimum 1,395 18% 82 11% 49 19% 54 18%
Medium 4,737 61% 448 61% 163 62% 199 65%
Maximum 1,675 21% 205 28% 52 20% 55 18%
 
Risk to re-offend 8,246 100% 732 100% 258 100% 317 100%
Low 536 7% 73 10% 50 19% 60 19%
Medium 2,778 34% 252 34% 94 36% 109 34%
High 4,932 60% 407 56% 114 44% 148 47%
 
Overall dynamic need 8,246 100% 732 100% 258 100% 317 100%
Low 363 4% 68 9% 39 15% 33 10%
Medium 2,202 27% 241 33% 88 34% 124 39%
High 5,681 69% 423 58% 131 51% 160 50%
 
Dynamic factors 8,246 100% 732 100% 258 100% 317 100%
Employment – some/considerable need 4,145 50% 390 53% 146 57% 150 47%
Substance Abuse – some/considerable need 3,985 48% 291 40% 95 37% 153 58%
Family/Marital – some/considerable need 5,123 62% 517 71% 199 77% 180 57%
Associates – some/considerable need 3,450 42% 247 34% 95 37% 92 29%
Community – some/considerable need 7,621 92% 670 92% 229 89% 285 90%
Personal/Emotional – some/considerable need 5,316 64% 496 68% 193 75% 203 64%
Attitude – some/considerable need 1,722 26% 260 40% 141 61% 147 52%
 
Motivation for intervention 8,756 100% 772 100% 274 100% 330 100%
Low 1,748 20% 169 22% 54 20% 57 17%
Medium 5,176 59% 491 64% 163 59% 207 63%
High 1,832 21% 112 15% 57 21% 66 20%
 
Reintegration potential 7,552 100% 712 100% 251 100% 297 100%
Low 2,069 27% 257 36% 126 50% 149 50%
Medium 2,513 33% 202 28% 79 31% 89 30%
High 2,970 39% 253 36% 46 18% 59 20%
Tableau 5-B
Static and dynamic factors
Community
  Caucasian Black Asian Other
# % # % # % # %
 
Security level at admission 5,106 100% 546 100% 366 100% 353 100%
Minimum 1,886 37% 171 31% 115 31% 152 43%
Medium 2,874 56% 331 61% 241 66% 191 54%
Maximum 346 7% 44 8% 10 3% 10 3%
 
Risk to re-offend 5,405 100% 543 100% 378 100% 350 100%
Low 1,132 21% 192 35% 183 48% 186 53%
Medium 2,353 44% 194 36% 146 39% 116 33%
High 1,920 36% 157 29% 49 13% 48 14%
Overall Dynamic Needs 5,405 100% 543 100% 376 100% 350 100%
Low 525 17% 186 34% 137 36% 143 41%
Medium 2,124 39% 204 38% 175 46% 142 41%
High 2,356 44% 153 28% 66 17% 65 19%
 
Dynamic factors 5,423   544   379   350  
Employment – some/considerable need 2,499 46% 292 54% 235 62% 166 47%
Substance Abuse – some/considerable need 3,368 62% 175 32% 117 31% 128 37%
Family/Marital – some/considerable need 2,106 39% 173 32% 79 21% 79 23%
Associates – some/considerable need 3,191 59% 366 67% 301 79% 212 61%
Community – some/considerable need 1,827 34% 206 38% 131 35% 89 25%
Personal/Emotional – some/considerable need 4,426 82% 404 74% 291 77% 238 68%
Attitude – some/considerable need 2,748 51% 279 51% 175 46% 172 49%
 
Motivation for intervention 4,218 100% 387 100% 288 100% 233 100%
Low 425 10% 41 11% 12 4% 22 9%
Medium 1,634 39% 165 43% 105 36% 65 28%
High 1,832 21% 112 15% 57 21% 66 20%
 
Reintegration potential 4,218 100% 387 100% 288 100% 233 100%
Low 602 14% 59 15% 18 6% 17 7%
Medium 1,644 39% 133 34% 75 26% 50 21%
High 1,972 47% 195 50% 195 68% 166 71%