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

3. Results (cont’d)

3. Results (cont’d)

3.7 Case Processing Over Time : 1992/93 Cohort Analysis

In order to understand how cases are processed by Review Boards over time, all of the NCRMD and UST cases admitted to the Review Boards in 1992 and 1993 were tracked up until the end of 2004. Using the 1992/93 cohort allows sufficient time to pass to better understand how long accused remain in the system and how their dispositions change over time. In 1992/93, 802 new NCRMD/UST cases were admitted into the Review Board systems. Of these, 258 (32.2%) were immediately released from the system - most were given an absolute discharge or returned to court for a fitness hearing. Of the remaining 544 cases, the length of time in the Review Board systems ranged from 15 days to more than 13 years (i.e., still within the system at the end of 2004).

Table 22 provides a breakdown of the time within the system for those cases that were initially given a conditional discharge or a detention order by legal status. NCRMD cases tend to stay in the system much longer than UST cases. For example, all NCRMD cases spent at least six months in the system while almost one in four UST cases were released (i.e., found fit, charges stayed or withdrawn) within the first six months. Moreover, all UST cases were released within five years while 60% of NCRMD cases were in the system longer than five years. It should be noted, however, that after being found legally fit to stand trial, UST accused may subsequently be found NCRMD for the same offence and spend additional time under the Review Board's control.

Table 22 – Legal Status (ncrmd/ust) By Time in the System (Cases Admitted in 1992/93)
Time in the System NCRMD N (column %) UST N (column %) TOTAL N (column %)
Less than six months 0 (0.0%) 72 (39.0%) 72 (13.2%)
Six months to one year 32 (9.0%) 78 (42.6%) 111 (20.4%)
Greater than one year to five years 111 (30.9%) 34 (18.5%) 145 (26.7%)
Greater than five years to ten years 90 (24.9%) 0 (0.0%) 90 (16.5%)
Greater than ten years 126 (35.1%) 0 (0.0%) 126 (23.3%)
TOTAL 360 (66.2%) 184 (33.8%) 544 (100%)
  • Percentages may not always total 100% due to rounding error.
  • Totals may not be exact due to the rounding of the weighted data.

Table 23 examines differences in the length of time within Review Board systems according to demographic information, diagnoses and offence type. Male accused were much more likely to spend long periods of time within the system (i.e., greater than ten years) compared to female accused.

Table 23 – Time in the System By Demographic Information, Diagnoses and Offence Type (Cases Admitted in 1992/93)

Aboriginal accused were considerably more likely to spend long periods of time within the system compared to non-Aboriginal accused. In fact, in the cohort sample, not a single Aboriginal accused was released within the first two-years and 70% spent at least 10 years in the Review Board system while only 22% of non-Aboriginal accused were in the system after ten years. It should be noted, however, that the number of Aboriginal accused in the cohort sample was relatively small.

In comparison to accused diagnosed with schizophrenia or "other diagnoses", accused diagnosed with affective disorder spent more time within the system. Also, accused charged with sexual offences were more likely to spend longer periods of time in the system compared to accused charged with violent or non-violent offences. In fact, not one accused charged with a non-violent offence admitted to the Review Boards in 1992/93 was still in the system ten years later.

Figure 3 provides a graphical representation of how the 1992/93 NCRMD/UST cases were processed throughout the years up until the end of 2004. Of the 802 cases from 1992/93, 142 (17.7%) were still in the system as of December 31, 2004. Most of these were given a single detention order (8.7%) or conditional discharge order (4.6%) and nothing changed over the follow-up period.

Figure 3 – Disposition Patterns: A Follow-up of NCRMD/UST Cases Initiated in 1992/1993

A small percentage of cases (0.9%) moved from the original detention order to a conditional discharge, a slightly larger percentage (1.7%) moved from a conditional discharge to a detention order and an even larger percentage (2.4%) moved from a conditional discharge to a detention order and back to a conditional discharge. The remaining cases still in the system (4.6%) were transferred back and forth between conditional discharge and detention several times.

Of those cases that were eventually released, a large percentage was released after a detention order (21.2%) or a conditional discharge (14.7%). A smaller percentage (7.6%) followed a model path from detention to conditional discharge to release and an even smaller percentage (1.2%) was released after a conditional discharge and a detention order. The remaining cases (6.6%) shuffled between detention and conditional discharge several times before eventually being released.

3.8 Attendees at Review Board Hearings

Table 24 provides information on who actually attended the first Review Board hearing. As the Review Board system is "inquisitorial" and not "adversarial", a lawyer for the accused is not mandatory to uphold principles of fundamental justice. However, some commentators have noted that a lawyer can be an important advocate for the legal rights and interests of NCRMD/UST accused. As can be seen in Table 24, a lawyer for the accused was present in 69.2% of Review Board hearings. The Crown was also present in almost half of all cases. Victims were recorded as attendees within Review Board files very infrequently; however, it is unknown if family members or "other persons" may also include victims. There were a few differences between NCRMD cases and UST cases. For example, in comparison to NCRMD cases, the Crown and the lawyer for the accused were recorded as attendees more often while treating psychiatrists and accused supports were less likely to be recorded as attendees during a UST case. This suggests that UST cases may be viewed as more legalistic and less treatment oriented than NCRMD cases.

Table 24 – Attendees at First Hearing

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