The Review Board Systems in Canada: An Overview of Results from the Mentally Disordered Accused Data Collection Study

3. Results

3. Results

3.1 Review Board Caseloads

There were a total of 8,679 accused found NCRMD or UST in the seven participating jurisdictions during the study period (1992-2004). Table 2 provides the percentage of cases within each province or territory by the legal status of the accused. Most accused within the Review Board systems were NCRMD rather than UST, although this varied according to the jurisdiction. For example, in Ontario approximately four out of every ten cases involved a UST accused while in Quebec approximately one out of every ten cases involved a UST accused.

Table 2 – Legal Status (NCRMD/UST) by Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction NCRMD N (row%) UST N (row %) TOTAL N (column %)
Prince Edward Island 8 (66.7%) 4 (33.3%) 12 ( 0.1%)
Quebec 3,378 (89.4%) 399 (10.6%) 3,777 (43.5%)
Ontario 2,059 (64.1%) 1,151 (35.9%) 3,210 (37.0%)
Alberta 306 (76.5%) 94 (23.5%) 400 ( 4.6%)
British Columbia 1,036 (82.7%) 216 (17.3%) 1,252 (14.4%)
Nunavut 6 (75.0%) 2 (25.0%) 8 ( 0.1%)
Yukon 10 (50.0%) 10 (50.0%) 20 ( 0.2%)
TOTAL 6,802 (78.4%) 1,877 (21.6%) 8,679 (100%)

Percentages may not always total 100% due to rounding error.

Annual admissions data in Table 3 indicate a clear increase in the absolute number of cases admitted to the Review Boards. In fact, between 1992 and 2004, there was a 102% increase in the total number of admissions. In order to determine if the increase in admissions was a result of an increase in the number of accused appearing in criminal court, the rate per 1,000 cases processed in adult court was calculated using the Adult Criminal Court Survey (ACCS) managed by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Statistics Canada. The ACCS, however, only began collecting data in 1994/95; therefore, the rates prior to this time cannot be calculated.

Table 3 - Annual Admissions by Jurisdiction (1992–2004)

In 1994/95, 1.2 per 1,000 cases in adult criminal court were diverted to Review Boards while in 2003/2004, this rate had increased to 1.8 per 1,000 cases – a 50% increase over the 1994/95 rate. This 50% increase in the rate is similar to the increase in the absolute number of admissions during the same time period. Therefore, the increase in Review Board admissions is clearly not the result of more accused appearing in adult criminal court. Rather, it is an indication that the courts were more likely to find an accused NCRMD/UST or that the issue of mental disorder was raised more often in court.

Figure 1 examines annual admissions and releases in order to estimate the growth in the NCRMD/UST population. Although annual releases increased along with admissions, more cases were admitted into the Review Board systems than were released each year. Therefore, there has been a substantial growth in the population between 1992 and 2004. Since 1992, the Review Board population has increased by almost 2,500 cases. Based upon projections using the last twelve years, the population is expected to continue to grow so that by the year 2015, there will be an additional 2,000 NCRMD/UST cases within the Review Board systems. This means that between 1992 and 2015, the population under the control of Review Boards is expected to increase by approximately 4,500 cases in addition to the existing 1992 population.

Figure 1 – Annual Admissions, Releases and Review Board Population Growth (1992-2015)

3.2 Demographic Profile of NCRMD/UST Accused

Table 4 provides basic demographic information on accused found NCRMD and UST. Most accused (84%) within the Review Board system were male, which is consistent with the traditional criminal justice system where 83% of accused processed through adult criminal court are male.[13]

According to Table 4, UST accused were slightly older than NCRMD accused. However, the average age of all accused within the Review Board systems (median=35 years) was higher than the average age of those within the traditional criminal justice system (median=31 years).[14]

Although Aboriginal status is neither accurately nor consistently reported within existing criminal justice system data, it is clear that Aboriginal peoples are over-represented within most aspects of the justice system including arrests, convictions and custodial sentences.[15] However, only 4% of accused within the Review Board system were reported to be Aboriginal, which is relatively consistent with the proportion of Aboriginal people in the Canadian population (i.e., approximately 3%).[16] The discrepancy between the proportion of Aboriginal people in the Review Board systems and the traditional criminal justice system may largely be due to the fact that Manitoba and Saskatchewan, which both have a high proportion of Aboriginal people within their populations, are missing from the study. It is also possible that in cases involving Aboriginal people, the issue of mental disorder may not be raised as often or when it is raised, courts are less likely to find that they meet the legal test. Additional research, however, would be required to appropriately answer this question.

Table 4 - Legal Status (NCRMD/UST) By Demographic Information

Gender
Demographic Information NCRMD N (column %) UST N (column %) TOTAL N (column %)
Male 5,716 (84.0%) 1,561 (83.2%) 7,277 (83.9%)
Female 1,086 (16.0%) 316 (16.8%) 1,402 (16.2%)

Age
Demographic Information NCRMD N (column %) UST N (column %) TOTAL N (column %)
Under 18 years 115 ( 1.7%) 74 ( 4.0%) 189 ( 2.2%)
18 to 25 years 1,374 (20.5%) 250 (13.6%) 1,624 (19.0%)
26 to 40 years 3,115 (46.4%) 748 (40.7%) 3,863 (45.2%)
41 to 64 years 1,987 (29.6%) 642 (34.9%) 2,629 (30.7%)
Over 64 years 123 ( 1.8%) 124 ( 6.7%) 247 ( 2.9%)
Median age 35 years 37 years 35 years

Aboriginal Status
Demographic Information NCRMD N (column %) UST N (column %) TOTAL N (column %)
Aboriginal 284 ( 4.2%) 93 ( 4.9%) 377 ( 4.3%)
Non-Aboriginal 6,518 (95.8%) 1,784 (95.1%) 8,302 (95.7%)
  • Percentages may not always total 100% due to rounding error.
  • Totals may not be exact due to the rounding of the weighted data.
  • Age was calculated based upon the accused's age at the time of the offence.
  • There were 127 cases that did not contain information necessary to calculate age.

As can be seen in Table 5, the same percentage of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal accused referred to a Review Board were female. However, there were age differences according to gender and Aboriginal status. In general, female accused were older than male accused and non-Aboriginal accused were older than Aboriginal accused.

Table 5 – Median Age By Demographic Information

Aboriginal
Demographic Information N (%) Median Age
Male 316 (83.8%) 29 years
Female 61 (16.2%) 32 years

Non-Aboriginal
Demographic Information N (%) Median Age
Male 6,962 (83.9%) 35 years
Female 1,341 (16.2%) 38 years
  • Percentages may not always total 100% due to rounding error.
  • There were 127 cases that did not contain information necessary to calculate age.

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