Thursday, November 22, 2007

Canada's Prison Population Grew in 2006

With Harper's new crime bills we will no doubt find our prison population growing even more. Perhaps Harper envies the US the world leader in incarcerating its citizens. Probably it is the world leader in incarcerating people in other countries as well. It holds plenty of Iraqis and also Afghans as well as assorted suspected terrorists from all over. Now what the UK is a buddy of the US its incarceration rates are also going up while Sweden and France remain low. The US does not even count its juvenile jail population. At least Canada diverted quite a few youth from jail with the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Don't tell Harper he will probably revise it.

Canada's prison population grew in 2006: StatsCan
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 21, 2007 | 2:50 PM ET
CBC News
The rate of incarceration has risen in Canada for the first time in a decade, largely because courts are sending more people to jail to await trials and sentencing hearings, according to a Statistics Canada report released Wednesday.

Canada had 110 prisoners for every 100,000 people in 2005-2006, compared to 107 the year before. That is only about a two per cent increase, but it is the first increase since 1995-1996.

The report is based on daily and monthly prisoner counts done at facilities across Canada, except for Prince Edward Island, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, which did not have complete numbers.

Canada's rate is almost seven times lower than the rate in the United States, which had 738 prisoners for every 100,000 people in 2005-2006. The U.S. rate only counts adult prisoners, while the Canadian rate counts all prisoners, including those under the age of 18.

Rates in western Europe, which count prisoners of all ages, were closer to the Canadian rates in 2005-2006 — Sweden's was 82, France's was 85 and in England and Wales it was 148.

Canada's rising rate is likely due to the fact that in 2005-2006 there were 12 per cent more adults in remand, waiting for trials and sentencing hearings, than the year before.

The report says the rising remand rate is partially due to the fact that court cases are becoming more complex and it takes longer to get cases to trial. Those who are sent to jail while awaiting trial end up spending more time there, boosting the total number of people in remand on any given day.

"Longer stays mean higher average counts," the report says.

The report also finds that:

There was an average of 35,110 adults in jail on any given day in Canada in 2005-2006, with 1,987 of them under the age of 18.
The average number of youths (ages 12-17) in jail has fallen 58 per cent since 2003, the year the Youth Criminal Justice Act came into effect and began diverting young offenders from the jail system.

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