John Howard Society - Parole Presentation

Presented to
Alberta Association of Police Governance
What do we all want?
What is Our Goal?
Safe and Peaceful
Much Less
Much More
Than Incarceration to Warrant Expiry
For all adult correctional services in
Canada: Statistics Canada, Adult Correctional Services 3306
 Total Expenditures
 Custodial Services
2,506,341,000 for 33,000
 Community Supervision
Services 512,704,000 for
119,965 individuals
CSC Only
(for 2007-08)
 Incarceration (average) per
person - 101,666
Corrections and
Conditional Release Statistical Overview, 2009: Public
Safety Canada.
 Halfway House (range) per
person – 40,000- 45,000
 Community Supervision –
24,825 (Corrections and
Conditional Release
Statistical Overview, 2009)
Public Safety Canada
Criminological Highlights (volume 11, Number 1; February
2010)This issue contains summaries of articles that address
the following questions:
Does the incarceration of offenders reduce their likelihood of
Conclusion: In fact, incarceration may increase the
probability of recidivism.
Is it true that the first time people go to prison; they
learn from their mistakes and, as a result, are likely to
reduce their offending after release?
Conclusion: First-imprisonment of offenders increases
the likelihood that they will re-offend.
Sentence Severity and Crime: Accepting the Null Hypothesis
Anthony N. Doob and
Cheryl Marie Webster
Crime and Justice, 30:143–195, 2003
The literature on the effects of sentence severity on crime levels
has been reviewed numerous times in the past twenty-five years.
Most reviews conclude that there is little or no consistent
evidence that harsher sanctions reduce crime rates in Western
populations. Nevertheless, most reviewers have been reluctant to
conclude that variation in the severity of sentence does not have
differential deterrent impacts. A reasonable assessment of the
research to date-with a particular focus on studies conducted in
the past decade-is that sentence severity has no effect on the
level of crime in society. It is time to accept the null hypothesis.
Canadian Sentencing Commission Date: 1987 Chair: J.R.
Omer Archambault Report: Sentencing Reform: A
Canadian Approach
Three of these purposes (deterrence, rehabilitation and
incapacitation) are clearly pragmatic. Sentences could
potentially be justified with reference to these goals to
the extent that they are able to realize them . There has
been a great deal of research on each of these three
purposes . Although the results are too equivocal to
yield certainty, the research does, nevertheless,
indicate the following :
• Evidence does not support the notion that variations in
sanctions (within a range that could reasonably be
contemplated) affect the deterrent value of sentences.
In other words, deterrence cannot be used, with
empirical justification, to guide the imposition of
• There are no comprehensive data that support the idea
that courts can in general, or with specific identifiable
groups, impose sanctions that have a reasonable
likelihood of rehabilitating offenders .
• Although it is a truism that offenders will not be able to
commit the same offences while imprisoned as they
would if they were at large in the community, the
extensive literature on incapacitation suggests that as a
crime-control strategy the costs of imprisonment far
outweigh the benefits achieved in reducing crime. The
difficulty with incapacitation as a crime-control
strategy is simple: too many people would have to be
imprisoned unnecessarily in order for crime levels to
decrease appreciably .
Is incarceration a criminogenic factor or do inmates learn their lesson? This question has
been investigated many times, in many different times, but the answer is always the
The undeniable responsibility of the state to those held in its custody is
to see that they are not returned to freedom worse than when they were
taken in charge. This responsibility has been officially recognized in
Canada for nearly a century but, although recognized, it has not been
discharged. The evidence before this Commission convinced us that
there are very few, if any, prisoners who enter our penitentiaries who do
not leave them worse members of society than when they entered
them. This is a severe, but in our opinion, just indictment of the prison
and past administrations. ( Report of the Royal Commission to
Investigate the Penal System of Canada [Ottawa: King's Printer, 1938]
[Commissioner: Joseph Archambault], cited in Sentencing Reform at
The persistent recidivist statistic can be related to the fact that so many in
prison have been irreversibly damaged by the system by the time they reach the
final storehouse of the Criminal Justice System -- the penitentiary . . . It was
compounded in schools, foster homes, group homes, orphanages, the juvenile
justice system, the courts, the police stations, provincial jails, and finally in the
"university" of the system, the penitentiary.
Most of those in prison are not dangerous. However, cruel lockups, isolation,
the injustices and harassment deliberately inflicted on prisoners unable to
fight back, make non-violent inmates violent, and those already dangerous
more dangerous.
Society has spent millions of dollars over the years to create and maintain the
proven failure of prisons. Incarceration has failed in its two essential purposes - correcting the offender and providing permanent protection to society. (
House of Commons Sub-Committee on the Penitentiary System in Canada
[Ottawa: Minister of Supply and Services, 1977] [Chairman: Mark MacGuigan],
cited in Sentencing Reform at 43)
Taken from Just Behind the
 What are the recidivism rates now? It is difficult to
assess as there is no definitive research and no
universal description.
 What we can estimate if we think of recidivism as an
individual who has already been convicted for an
offence commits another offence after serving
whatever sentence he had originally.
 Inmates released from Federal system counting
individuals who did not necessarily return to prison.
About 37% Vancouver Sun
 Inmates released from provincial institutions – 50 to
75% (Manitoba, CBC News)
Day Parole
Non-violent offence
Violent offence
Full Parole
Non-violent offence
Violent offence
Statutory Release
Successful completion
Non-violent offence
Violent offence
 Good completion rates – less dangerous than just
Deal with real life issues in the community
Supervision covers the most high risk period after
Support and monitoring in community
Halfway Houses have the best success rates
The more time they are supervised in community the
Helps overcome the criminogenic effects of
 Lots of contact and interaction with staff so a
relationship is established
Able to monitor activities in the community
finances, relationships, drug use, whereabouts and
Provide access to programming, counselling and
psychiatric services
Develop supports in the community that will be there
after release
Work closely with police, including high risk unit
which allows them to use their time more effectively
Every person has intrinsic worth and must be treated
with dignity, equity, fairness and compassion.
Every person has the right to live in a safe and peaceful
Maintaining a safe and peaceful society through humane
responses to crime is every person’s responsibility.
Every person has the right and the responsibility to be
informed about the criminal justice system.
Justice is best served through measures that resolve
conflicts, repair harm, and restore peaceful relations in
Society has a special responsibility to provide a positive
developmental environment for youth.
“Promoting positive change through humane, just and
informed community responses to crime and its effects”
Thank you
for you time.
Gordon Sand
Executive Director
Calgary John
Howard Society