WOMEN'S PRISON NETWORK

- PRISON FACTS IN CANADA -

Pete Collins - Looking Glass

The Situation:

Everything you were never taught about Canada's prison systems:
A primer on Canada's urgent Human Rights crisis
(pdf) by IntersectionalAnalyst.com
A Brief History of Prisons & Resistance to them in so-called Canada (pdf)

Index:

Adult and Youth Correctional Statistics in Canada (2016/17)
Federal Prison Statistics (Correctional Investigator's Report: 2016)
Prisoner Deaths in Federal Custody in Canada
Prisoner Deaths in Provincial Custody in Canada
Segregation Statistics for Oct-Dec 2015 (Ontario Provincial)
Operating Costs Totalled more than $4 Billion (2015/16)


Adult and Youth Correctional Statistics in Canada (2016/17)

How many are in prison in Canada?
In 2016/17, on a given day 39,873 adults and 7,616 youth (aged 12 to 17 years) were in prison in Canada (Federal & Provincial), for a total of 47,489 prisoners.

Is this number going up?
At 422 per 100,000 population, Canada's 2016/17 adult incarceration rate is down 3% from the previous year, and a decrease of 17% from 2012/2013.
Adults in remand (Pre-Trial Detention) continued to exceed those in the sentenced prison population. The rate of those in remand was significantly higher at 52 prisoners per 100,000 population, while those in sentenced prison represented a rate of 35 per 100,000 population.

Is this the same for men and women?
In the last ten years, the number of women admitted to Federal prisons increased 32.3% from 232 in 1998-99 to 307 in 2007-08. During the same time period, there was an increase of 6.6% in the number of men admitted to Federal prisons. As of April 13, 2008, there were 495 women in Federal prisons.
In 2015 there were about 600 women in Federal prisons and roughly 6,000 others in Provincial prisons. About two-thirds of them have children, and many have young children.

What is the average age of prisoners?
The average age upon admission in 2010-11 is 33 years of age (CSC). This is roughly the same for men and women. However, the average age of Aboriginal inmates is lower, 29.
Prisoner age at admission to Federal prisons is increasing. In 2010-11, 12.1% of the Federal incarcerated population is age 50 or over, compared to 8.1% between 2001-02.

What is the literacy/ education level of prisoners?
65% of people entering prisons have less than a Grade 8 education or level of literacy skills.
79% of people entering Canadian prisons don’t have their high school diploma.
Up to 30% reduction in recidivism can be achieved through programming depending on the level of literacy the prisoner achieves.

How many prisoners have mental health issues in CSC?
In 2007-08, 11.1% of individuals committed to Federal prisons had a mental health diagnosis at time of admission and 6.1% were receiving outpatient services prior to admission.
In 2007-08, 30.1% of female prisoners compared to 14.5% of male prisoners had previously been hospitalized for psychiatric reasons.
The percentage of Federal prisoners prescribed medication for psychiatric concerns at admission has almost doubled from 11.0% in 1998-99 to 21.3% in 2007-08.
Female prisoners are twice as likely as male prisoners to have a mental health diagnosis at time of admission.
In BC prisons, in one seven year study, over 30% of the prison population had been medically diagnosed with a substance use disorder. An additional 26% were diagnosed with a mental disorder unrelated to substance use. Among those people diagnosed with a substance use disorder, more than three quarters were also diagnosed with a non drug-related mental disorder (concurrent disorders). Importantly, this does not necessarily include alcohol abuse, fetal alcohol syndrome or developmental disabilities which are not often diagnosed.
In BC, an estimated 80% of female prisoners have received a psychiatric diagnosis.

What is the Aboriginal population in Federal prisons?
In 2010/11, 27% of adults in Provincial and Territorial prisons and 20% of those in Federal prisons involved Aboriginal people, about seven to eight times higher than the proportion of Aboriginal people (3%) in the adult population as a whole. The disproportionate number of Aboriginal people in custody was consistent across all provinces and territories and particularly true among female prisoners. In 2010/11, Aboriginal women represent 41% of all women prisoners while Aboriginal men represent 25% of all men prisoners. The number of Federal Aboriginal prisoners is increasing.

What are the most frequent complaints from people in Federal prisons?
Health Care accounted for 13.5% of complaints followed by Conditions of Confinement (7.9%), and Cell Property (6.9%). Together these accounted for 28.3% of all complaints.

What is the death rate in Federal prisons?
In the ten-year period from 1999-00 to 2008-09, 533 Federal prisoners and 376 Provincial prisoners have died while in custody.
During this time period, suicides accounted for 18.6% of Federal prisoner deaths and 38.3% of Provincial prisoner deaths. The suicide rate was approximately 77 per 100,000 for Federal prisoners, and approximately 71 per 100,000 for Provincial prisoners. These rates are significantly higher than Canada's 2007 rate of 10.2 suicides per 100,000 people.
Between 1999-00 and 2008-09, 5.8% of the Federal prisoner deaths were due to homicide, whereas homicide accounted for 2.4% of Provincial prisoner deaths. The homicide rate for Federal prisoners was approximately 24 per 100,000 and 4 per 100,000 for Provincial prisoners.
These rates are significantly higher than the national homicide rate of 1.6 per 100,000 people in 2007.

Source: Adult and Youth Correctional Statistics in Canada, 2016/17
(Missing most of Provincial / Territories Statistics due to 'Unavailability of Data'!)

Top of Page

Federal Prison Statistics (Correctional Investigator's Report: 2016)

50%: The proportion by which the aboriginal prisoner population in federal prisons grew during the law-and-order Harper years between 2005 and 2015.
The number of aboriginal women entering prisons has almost doubled in that time. About 25% of the total Federal prisoner population of 15,000 in Canada is aboriginal; 35.5% of all women prisoners are aboriginal.

69%: The proportion by which the black prisoner population grew during the same decade.
'These increases continue despite public inquiries and commissions calling for change and Supreme Court of Canada decisions urging restraint,' the report states.

More than 6,200: The number of formal prisoner complaints handled by the Office of the Correctional Investigator in 2014-15, one of the highest caseloads in recent years.
The office also conducted some 1,510 reviews of incidents involving use of force against prisoners and 167 reviews of incidents involving assault, death, attempted suicide and self-harm.

One in four: The proportion of prisoner in the federal prison population who are over 50.
That's one-third more than just five years ago. According to the report, 'The system has become so risk averse that even elderly, chronically ill and geriatric persons who no longer pose any ongoing or dynamic risk to public safety are commonly held to their statutory or warrant expiry dates.' The prison population is not only getting older; it's also getting sicker. About 68% of federal inmates are overweight or obese. That number increases to 90% for those over 65. The average age at death for a federal inmate is around 60 – much younger than the Canadian average of 78.3 for men and 83 for women.

30%: The proportion of women prisoners who were previously hospitalized for psychiatric reasons.
Even more troubling: six in 10 women in the federal prison system are on some form of psychotropic medication to manage their mental health.

Close to 70%: Women in federal prisons who report a history of sexual abuse.
More than 86% report having been physically abused at some time in their lives.

578: 'Self-injury' incidents involving women prisoners in 2013-14.
Nearly three-quarters of those occurred at one facility: Regional Psychiatric Centre, Saskatoon. Overall incidents of prison self-injury have tripled in the last decade.

1 in 5: Deaths by suicide, which is the leading cause of unnatural death in Federal prisons.
Just under half of those who took their lives behind bars were on prescribed medications. Segregation is a major contributing factor to suicides behind bars. Almost half, 14 of the 30 suicides in federal prisons in 2014, took place in segregation cells. Five of the 14 had been held in segregation for more than 120 days prior to taking their lives. Of the 659 inmates in segregation today, 13.7 per cent have a history of self-injurious behaviour. The average length of segregation in 2013-14 was 27 days.

$108,376: Yearly cost of keeping a male Federal prisoner in jail.
The cost is nearly twice that for women inmates. By contrast, the cost of keeping offenders in community is 70% less. Meanwhile, total criminal-justice costs (police, courts, corrections, parole) have risen by almost 25% in the last decade, while the national crime rate has fallen dramatically.

$6.90: The maximum daily wage a Federal prisoner can earn.
That number hasn't changed since 1981, the report says, eroding 'the possibility of having any meaningful savings to support reintegration or maintain familial obligations on the outside.' About 60% of prisoners were identified as being chronically underemployed or unemployed at the time they entered Federal prison. And fully 60% have a formal education of Grade 8 or less.

Source: NOW Magazine 2016: The 10 most Distressing numbers on Canada's Federal Prisons

Top of Page

Prisoner Deaths in Federal Custody in Canada

2014/2015 2015/2016 Annual Reports (very incomplete!)
Inquest Verdicts (Ontario 1996-2018)

Top of Page

Prisoner Deaths in Provincial Custody in Canada

Ontario (2012-2016) - Schedule of Inquests (Current) - Inquest Verdicts (Ontario 1996-2018)

Top of Page

Segregation Statistics for Oct-Dec 2015 (Ontario Provincial)

4,178 or 19.2% of prisoners spent at least a day in segregation across Ontario Provincial prisons

Of the 4,178:
1,889 served multiple terms in segregation
3,674 (87.9%) were male
454 (10.9%) were female (1.2% unknown)
38.2% had a mental health alert
56.9% identified as white
13.3% identified as black
13.1% identified as aboriginal
16.2 days: Average time spent in segregation

Top of Page

Operating Costs Totalled more than $4 Billion (2015/16)

In 2015/2016, adult correctional services operating expenditures in Canada totalled over $4.6 billion, a decrease of 2% from the previous year after adjusting for inflation. This decline is the result of the decrease in federal expenditures on corrections (-9%) while provincial and territorial spending increased 6%.

The costs for keeping adults in custody are typically higher for the Federal system. On average, in 2015/2016, institutional expenditures amounted to around $283 per day for Federal prisoners, compared to about $203 per day for provincial and territorial prisoners.

In the provincial and territorial system, custodial services accounted for 80% of all correctional expenditures in 2015/2016, even though the custodial population accounted for 63% of the total correctional services population. Community supervision services expenditures accounted for 15% of total expenditures.

Total operating expenditures for correctional services was equivalent to $128 for each person in the Canadian population. Of this amount, a little over half ($62) was spent on Federal correctional services, with the remainder being spent for Provincial and Territorial correctional services.

Source: Operating expenditures of the adult correctional system, by jurisdiction, 2015/2016

Top of Page