A private members bill brought forward last year has made it’s way to the 43rd parliaments second session after initially being read on Feb.26th of 2020.
The bill that was brought forward by Richard Bragdon of the Conservatives and seeks to establish a federal framework to deal with recidivism in Canada (rates of those who re-offend both violent and non-violent crime). It has been around for sometime now, but has not made much headway as of yet – as is often the case for private members bills.
Study on Recidivism in Canada
Two cohorts of Canadian federal offenders were followed in the study conducted by Lynn Stewart & Geoff Wilton for Correctional Service Canada. One cohort was taken from those released from 2007/2008, which followed 22,685 prisoners and the other from 2011/2012 tracked data from 8441 federally released prisoners.
How they did it
They took data from the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database and combined it with data from the Offender Management System (OMS) to examine the rates of reoffending of any kind and reoffending with a violent offence based on indigenous and non-indigenous ancestry and gender.
Using this combined data, the two-year post-release reoffending rate for the entire 2011-2012 cohort was 23.4%. The rate for men was 24.2% and for woman it was 12%.
Violent Crime Recidivism Comparison
NIM: Non-indigenous men
IM: Indigenous men
IW: Indigenous women
NIW: non-indigenous women
NIM 07-08 cohort: 15.9% would commit a new violent offence and 29.4% committed a new offence.
NIM 11-12 cohort: 9.9% of non-indigenous men committed a new violent offence and 20.5% committed a new offence.
IM 07-08 cohort: 32.3% of indigenous men would committed a new violent offence within two years and 47.9% committed a new offence.
IM 11-12 cohort: 22.3% committed a new violent offence and 37.7% committed a new offence.
IW 07-08 cohort: 13.6% committed a new violent offence and 33.0% committed a new offence.
IW 11-12 cohort: 11.3% committed a new violent offence and 19.7% committed a new offence.
NIW 07-08 cohort: 4.1% committed a new violent offence and 13.8% committed a new offence.
NIW 11-12 cohort: 2.1% committed a new violent offence and 9.2% committed a new offence.
The report said;
“Results based on OMS data indicated that revocation and reconviction rates steadily declined each year from 2007-2008 to 2011-2012, the exception being the rate of violent reoffending where we see a slight uptick for the 2011-2012 cohort (Figure 2).”
In the 2011-2012 cohort, 43% of those released returned to custody for some reason or another. This is where the goal of bill C-228 comes in.
As it says in the Bills pre-amble;
- “Whereas nearly one in four people who have been incarcerated re-offend within two years of their release;
- Whereas people who have been incarcerated should have the necessary resources and employment opportunities to be able to transition back into the community and avoid falling back into their old ways;
- Whereas victims are at the heart of the justice system and the best way to protect them is to reduce crime and recidivism;
The Bill says that the framework must include measures to initiate pilot projects and develop standardized and evidence-based programs and must promote the reintegration of people who have been incarnated back into the community by ensuring they have employment opportunities and adequate ongoing resources.
The goal of the judicial system is not to merely punish – but to reform. Nearly one in four people who have been incarcerated re-offend within two years of their release. Perhaps antidotal, I remember discussing this issue with someone who had previously served time in prison.
In this case, the individual told me that they had worked for almost 3 years putting out applications to get a job – the only place to offer him a job was this specific gas station on the night shift. He informed me because of his criminal record no one wanted to hire him – this in my opinion increases the risk of recidivism.
We must find ways to reintegrate offenders back into society – it’s in society’s interest to do so. We must do so well ensuring the safety and well-being of society but while understanding that people make mistakes and although some will likely never change their ways – many will if given the support network needed.
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