A Profile of Older Offenders in Federal Custody: Aged 65 and Over
Research Highlights: Offenders aged 65 and up account for 5% of the in-custody population; they tend to be high risk, medium/high need and serving indeterminate sentences.
Research in Brief- PDF
Why we did this study
The proportion of offenders over the age of 50 (Baidawi et al., 2011) in federal custody has significantly increased since 2006 (Beaudette & Stewart, 2014). Previous research indicates that older offenders have unique needs compared to younger offenders (e.g., Aday & Krabill, 2012; Uzoaba, 1998). However, this group of offenders is not homogenous and it is important to examine the different subsets within this group.
What we did
An in-custody snapshot taken on January 20th, 2019 indicated there were 13,955 federal offenders in custody; 5% (688) were aged 65 or over. Characteristics of this group were analyzed to better understand the needs and characteristics of this sub-set of older offenders.
What we found
Of those aged 65 and over, 49% were between the ages of 65 and 69, and 15% identified as Indigenous. Indigenous representation was highest in the Prairie region (30%) and lowest in the Quebec region (8%).
The majority of those aged 65 and over were serving an indeterminate sentence (59%), often for a schedule I offence (violent; 47%) or for second degree murder (30%). Many had either served a relatively short amount of time on their sentence (i.e., less than five years; 40%) or a lengthy amount of time (i.e., 20 years or more; 29%).
Almost three-quarters (72%) of offenders aged 65 and over had passed their eligibility dates for day parole and over half (60%) had passed their eligibility dates for full parole. Of those who had passed their day parole eligibility dates, 31% had passed it within the past two years.
The majority of offenders aged 65 and over were classified as medium (49%) or maximum (42%) security and two-thirds (66%) were considered to be high risk. In overall need, offenders tended to be high (47%) or medium (44%), while on the reintegration potential, they tended to be rated medium (41%) or low (39%). However, 61% were engaged in their correctional plan and almost half (49%) were rated medium on motivation level.
|Atlantic||90% (52)||10% (6)|
|Quebec||92% (179)||8% (16)|
|Ontario||90% (197)||11% (23)|
|Prairies||71% (62)||30% (26)|
|Pacific||76% (96)||24% (31)|
|Note. These numbers are accurate as of January 20th, 2019.|
What it means
Although offenders aged 65 and up account for only 5% of the in-custody population, they tend to have complex needs that will need to be considered (e.g., high risk, medium/high need) especially as this group continues to grow. More thorough research is necessary so that CSC can effectively manage and support these offenders through age-responsive interventions and services.
Aday, R. H., & Krabill, J. J. (2012). Older and geriatric offenders: Critical issues for the 21st century. In Gideon, L. (ed). Special needs offenders in correctional institutions. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.
Baidawi, S., Turner, S., Trotter, C., Browning, C., Collier, P., O'Connor, D., & Sheehan, R. (2011). Older prisoners - A challenge for Australian corrections. Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice, 426.
Beaudette, J. & Stewart, L. (2014). Older Offenders in the Custody of the Correctional Service of Canada No RS-14-21. Ottawa, ON: Correctional Service of Canada.
Uzoaba, J. H. E. (1998). Managing older offenders: Where do we stand? Ottawa, ON: Correctional Service of Canada.
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: Stephanie M. Biro, Laura McKendy, Daina Stanley, & Leslie Anne Keown
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