Exploring the Shift in the Federal Women Offender Distribution

Research Highlights: The shift towards a higher proportion of women under community supervision is the result of effective case management.


No RIB-18-07

September 2018

Research in Brief- PDF

Exploring the Shift in the Federal Women Offender Distribution

Why we are doing this study

Over the past five years, the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) has seen an increase (+304 or 28.1%) in women under federal jurisdiction [from 1,083 at year-end in 2012-13 to 1,387 in 2017-18]. While it appears that women in federal custody had been increasing from 603 at year-end in 2012-13 to 679 in 2017-18, the custody population had peaked in 2015-16 and is now in decline. On the other hand, there has been steady growth (+228 or 47.5%) in the conditional release supervision population from 480 at year-end in 2012-13 to 708 in 2017-18. Also noteworthy, 2017-18 marked a historical shift of proportionally more women under community supervision than in custody. Gaining an understanding the recent shift can facilitate the allocation of programming and operational resources.

Women Offender Population: 2012-13 to 2017-18
Fiscal Year 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18
Custody 603 617 658 693 680 679
Community 480 489 527 574 651 708
Total 1,083 1,106 1,185 1,267 1,331 1,387
Ratio In/Out 56/44 56/44 56/44 55/45 51/49 49/51

What we did

Historical year-end federal institutional and community supervision counts are recorded as standardized reports in CSC’s Corporate Reporting System-Modernized (CRS-M). Similarly, historical counts of federal admissions and releases are also recorded in CRS-M.

Data was extracted from CRS-M (April 15, 2018) capacity module to establish a five-year trend (2012-13 to 2017-18) of the flows into and out of federal custody. Then, a closer examination of the nature of the turnover (admissions/ releases) in the population was undertaken.

What we found

Overall, admissions to federal custody for women have risen from 412 in 2012-13 to 519 in 2017-18; a substantial difference of +107 (or +26.0%). When unpacking this increase by type of federal admission it is notable that the percentage of admissions to federal custody through conditional release revocations has decreased from 32.3% in 2012-13 to 28.5% in 2017-18.

On the other hand, total releases from federal custody appear to have increased from 452 in 2012-13 to 569 in 2017-18. Again, unpacking total releases by type it is noteworthy that there has been a steady rise in day parole releases from 185 in 2012-13 to 321 in 2017-18; a difference of +136 (or +73.5%). While it may appear that there has been little change in revocations, there has been a substantial increase in earlier releases on day parole resulting in less days spent incarcerated for a considerable portion of the federal offender population.

National Population Flows: 2012-13 to 2017-18
Fiscal Year Total Admissions Admissions (Revocation) Total Releases Releases (Day Parole)
2012-13 412 133 452 185
2013-14 429 111 406 153
2014-15 472 124 455 186
2015-16 541 149 521 207
2016-17 549 132 572 282
2017-18 519 148 569 321

What it means

Notwithstanding the fact that growth of women offender population in federal custody has dampened, it appears that more women are being released earlier in their sentence and managed safely in the community. It is the combined efforts at efficient preparation for safe release and effective case management that has resulted in shift towards a higher proportion of federally sentenced women under community supervision than in custody.

For more information

Please e-mail the Research Branch or contact us by phone at (613) 995-3975.

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

Prepared by: Larry Motiuk and Bruno Jean

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