Changes in the Size of the Federal Offender Population: 2000 to 2018

Research Highlights: Historical federal population trend lines show a recent decline in custody and rise under community supervision.


No RIB-18-16

September 2018

Research in Brief- PDF

Changes in the Size of the Federal Offender Population: 2000 to 2018

Why we are doing this study

The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) regularly conducts population forecasts and monitors historical trends of federal offender counts both in custody and under community supervision.Footnote 1 Footnote 2The systematic monitoring of breaks in a longer-term line can help to signal when net demand for accommodation and intervention capacity might be mounting, weakening or being met.

What we did

Historical year-end federal in custody and under community supervision counts are recorded as standardized reports in CSC’s Corporate Reporting System-Modernized (CRS-M). Data between Fiscal Year (FY) 2000-2001 and 2017-2018 were extracted from CRS-M to establish 18-year trend lines.

What we found

Since the turn of the millennium the federal in custody population has increased by +872 (or 6.7%). However, since peaking in 2013-2014 at 15,288 the in custody population has steadily declined to 13,967 (-1,321 or -8.6%) by year-end 2017-2018. As displayed in the figure below, there were several notable breaks in the 18-year trend line, the significant rise above beginning in 2010-2011 followed by a major decline below in 2015-2016.

Similarly, the federal population under community supervision has increased by +819 (or 9.8%) since 2000-2001. However, since 2013-2014 at 7,681 the community population has steadily increased to 9,167 (+1,306 or +16.6%) by year-end 2017-2018. As displayed in the figure, there is a noteworthy break in the 18-year trend line with the substantial rise above beginning in 2015-2016.

What it means

The national in custody count being well below the longer-term trend-line and the community supervision counts being well above is reflective of recent efforts directed at preparation for safe release and more offenders being granted a discretionary release. This examination of longer-term trend-lines suggests that the current approach to safe reintegration is viable.

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

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