Conditional Sentencing in Canada: an Overview of Research Findings
Since the conditional sentence of imprisonment is a new sanction, provincial and territorial correctional data-bases have not yet fully automated data collection. For this reason, the Department of Justice Canada, in co-operation with the provincial and territorial correctional representatives, conducted a manual survey of conditional sentences imposed to date. By 2001, it is anticipated that conditional sentences will be integrated into the Adult Criminal Court Survey (ACCS) located in the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, a division of Statistics Canada. When this integration process is complete, information on conditional sentences will be available in the annual Centre publication entitled “Adult Criminal Court Statistics”, which is part of the Juristat series.
It is important to point out that the trends presented in this chapter derive from the period prior to the Supreme Court judgement in R . v. Proulx. Since that judgement contained important guidance for trial judges, it is likely that the nature (and duration) of conditional sentence orders imposed will change significantly. The data summarized in this report serve as a comparison for trends in conditional sentencing in the post-Proulx period.
September 1999 marked the three-year point in the new conditional sentencing regime. After three years of implementation, 42,941 conditional sentences of imprisonment had been imposed across the country.
Table 3.1 provides a breakdown of the conditional sentences imposed by province and territory over the three-year period. As can be seen, the highest numbers of conditional sentences were imposed in Quebec (12,690) and Ontario (11,443). Together, these two provinces accounted for fully 55% of all conditional sentence orders imposed (Table 3.1).
|Province/Territory||# of Orders Imposed|
|Prince Edward Island||101|
Over the last twelve-month period of this analysis (September 1 1998-August 31, 1999), the use of conditional sentences varied considerably. In the Northwest Territories, there was no change in the number of conditional sentences imposed. Elsewhere the increases ranged from 15% in Alberta to 31% in Manitoba. These trends may reflect reaction from the Courts of Appeal across the country. It is hard to tell on the basis of a single year, whether these differences represent longer term trends across the country. Once conditional sentences have been integrated into the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics data-base, we shall be in a better position to evaluate the usage of conditional sentences.
Table 3.2 provides a breakdown of the percentage of conditional sentences imposed across a number of offence categories. This table reveals that the category of property crime accounts for the highest percentage of orders imposed (39%), followed by personal injury offences (31%). These two categories of offence together account for 70% of all orders imposed. Offences involving drugs accounted for 11% of cases while against the administration of justice accounted for a further 8%.
|% Person||% Property||% Driving||% Administration of Justice||% CDSA[*]||% Other|
|Prince Edward Island||14%||65%||3%||5%||12%||1%|
Table 3.3 gives a somewhat more detailed breakdown for selected offences and offence categories and includes the numbers of conditional sentence orders imposed across the country. This table shows that the most serious crimes seldom resulted in the imposition of a conditional sentence. For example, there were only 24 cases of manslaughter out of over 40,000 conditional sentences imposed over a three-year period (see Table 3.3).
|Province/ Territory||Number and Type of Offences|
|Man-slaughter||Person||Property||B&E||Fraud||Sexual Assault||Family Violence||Impaired Driving||Dangerous Driving||Administration of Justice||CDSA||Other|
|Prince Edward Island||23||94||22||40||4||6||3||4||12||29||2|
[*] Controlled Drug and Substance Act
- Date modified: