Pre-Trial Detention Under the Young Offenders Act: A Study of Urban Courts

4. Judicial Interim Release: What Factors Affect Court Decision-Making? (cont'd)

4. Judicial Interim Release: What Factors Affect Court Decision-Making? (cont'd)

4.4 Factors Associated with the Form of Court Release and Conditions of Court Release

4.4.1 Type of Offence

Unlike police release conditions there was little or no relationship between type of charge and the form of court release (Table 4.4). This may be partly because the form of youth court release was closely associated with the court location - recognizances were used primarily in downtown Toronto and Scarborough. Data not shown in table form indicate that recognizances in the Toronto-area courts were particularly likely to be used for persons charged with indictable offences.

4.4.2 Factors Associated with Court Release Conditions

This analysis used linear regression [48] to determine what case characteristics affected the court's decision to impose specific conditions. There are two interests here - first, whether non-legal factors influenced decisions and second, the effects of the nature of the (alleged) offence on the selection of release conditions. Table 4.5 shows the results of the analysis for the total sample. Two conditions are omitted from the analysis: the "reside" condition, which is given to almost every person, and "report", which is mainly used in the two British Columbia courts.

The age of the young person affects two conditions but in different directions. Younger persons were more likely to be ordered to attend school, and older children more likely to be ordered to abstain from alcohol and drugs. Being black or Aboriginal increased the likelihood of having a "do not communicate with the victim" and "do not carry or possess weapons" even when other factors were controlled. Alleged substance abuse increased the likelihood of being ordered to abstain.

Table 4.4

An offence against the person precipitated the no-contact victim condition. The presence of co-accused young persons greatly increased the likelihood of being ordered not to contact other persons; youth living outside of their families, and those with more prior convictions and current charges were also more likely to have a no-contact condition. Area restrictions were most influenced by the nature of the most serious charge at arrest: those with indictable person or administration of justice offences were most likely to be prohibited from certain areas or buildings. The multivariate analysis was unsuccessful in explaining why certain youth were ordered to attend school (or work); as noted, the sole significant factor was age. Abstention conditions disproportionately affected older youth, persons with alleged substance abuse problems, and those with a current "other" offence such as weapons or Criminal Code traffic charges. Blacks or Aboriginal youth, those with more numerous prior convictions, and those accused of a person or "other" offence were most likely to be ordered not to carry or possess weapons. Curfew conditions are of special interest because of the number of bail violations for violating curfews. Having a current property charge was the only case characteristic associated with curfew orders. Finally, although house arrest was used sparingly in this sample other than in Toronto and Scarborough, past bail violations and a current indictable offence against the person increased the likelihood of being required to stay at home other than when at work or school.

Therefore, being black or Aboriginal influenced the selection of two release conditions - do not communicate with the victim and do not possess weapons. A measure of the type of current charge was significantly associated with six of the eight conditions. The exceptions were non-communication with others such as co-accused and attend school or work.

We also looked at the same data separately for each court location (Tables A.14 to A.21 in the Appendix) in order to find out if relationships were being obscured in the total sample.

  • In each of the five courts, having an offence against the person among the current charges greatly increased the likelihood of a "no-contact victim" condition. Being Aboriginal was significantly associated in Winnipeg.
  • "No-contact other person" is mostly explained by the presence of a co-accused although having a person offence affected the selection of this condition in two courts.
  • Being given an "area restriction" is not well explained by the data. In Toronto and Scarborough, however, having a property charge was moderately related to this condition.
  • Similarly, the requirement to "attend school or work" is not well explained. In Toronto and Scarborough, black youth, those with no prior convictions and those with property charges were especially likely to have this condition imposed. In Edmonton, age (being younger) was associated with the condition.
  • In two courts being an alleged substance abuser was unrelated to the "abstain" condition.
  • "Prohibitions against possessing a weapon" while on bail were associated with race (being black) in Toronto. In the four courts where the analysis could be undertaken, having an offence against the person was the most influential factor.
  • "Curfews" are not at all explained by the factors available to this research. This finding means that curfew conditions are related to the usual practices of the court and/or the predilections of the decision-maker.
  • The most intrusive bail condition - "house arrest" - was most often found in the two Toronto-area courts. The only factor associated with being ordered to remain at home most of the time was having a person charge at arrest.

Table 4.5A

In summary, being black (in Toronto) or Aboriginal (Winnipeg) increased the likelihood of receiving specific bail conditions. Also important is the finding that the very frequently imposed curfew condition could not be explained by personal or case characteristics. Of all conditions, violations of curfew most often bring the young person back to court on a bail violation (Table 2.13). If there are no offence- or other case-related rationales for the imposition of this condition, as these data suggest, there may be a need to reconsider the use of curfews for young persons on bail.

[48] Ordinary least squares regression was used because the numbers in the analysis by court location were quite low and in this situation the utility of logistic regression becomes questionable.

Date modified: