Criminal Recidivism Rates in Canada

Jason Morris

There have been a few studies conducted in the United States covering recidivism rates of offenders and ex-convicts. Anything above .0001% is virtually why the employment screening industry even exists. We have written in the past about our own domestic recidivism rates but have yet to post anything outside the US. I found this article discussing these staggering rates in Canada. The Winnipeg Sun is reporting that the re-offending rate in some cases is as high as 100%. The article throws out some incredible, almost unbelievable numbers about recidivism. The author summarizes by saying if Manitoba’s corrections branch is to rehabilitate criminals, they’re not doing a very good job! Do you do background checks on your Canadian applicants? I hope so!!

knowledge-against-prisonRe-offending rates are staggering

If the main objective of Manitoba’s Corrections branch is to rehabilitate criminals, they’re not doing a very good job.

At least according to their own numbers released by the Opposition Tories Tuesday, which show the rate of re-offending in some cases is as high as 100% for young criminals.

The most recent data from the last three months of 2007 shows 75% of adult inmates released from provincial jails were charged with another offence within two years of completing their sentence.

The numbers include charges for new offences and for breaching conditions of release.

It’s an astonishingly high number and it confirms what many of us have observed anecdotally for years — our courts/corrections system has evolved into a revolving door of justice where criminals re-offend over and over again.

The 75% recidivism rate for the last quarter of 2007 is the highest in at least five years, according to the data. Which means the problem is getting worse, not better.

The recidivism rates for young offenders during the same period are even more staggering.

In the three-month period from April to June 2006, 100% of young offenders released from youth custody were charged with another offence within two years.

That means every young offender in Manitoba who completed a youth jail sentence between April 1 and June 30 that year was charged with another offence within the following two years.

That’s an incredible statistic and a glaring example of what a massive failure our justice system is.

What’s equally startling is not once has the recidivism rate for young offenders in custody dropped below 75% since 2002.

Most quarters it ranged between 80%-95%. It’s a horrible record.

The stated objective of the Youth Criminal Justice Act is to rehabilitate young criminals and help them transform their lives.

It’s obviously not working. Even in deferred custody cases — where young offenders serve their sentences in the community with conditions — the recidivism rate is as high as 85%-90%.

There are obviously no easy solutions to bring down recidivism rates for adults and young offenders. But whatever our courts and jails are doing now is not working.


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Jason Morris

President & Chief Operating Officer at EmployeeScreenIQ
A veteran screening and risk management professional, Jason Morris founded EmployeeScreenIQ in 1999 and acts as the company’s chief operating officer and president. Morris is a frequent speaker delivering captivating, interactive discussions on background checks, global screening, recruitment and staffing. He educates audiences in best practice initiatives as they relate to organizational employment screening programs. Morris has been quoted in numerous business and industry publications including The Wall Street Journal,, USA Today, New York Times, among others. He is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey, Texas, Arizona and Nevada.
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  • Name Pat

    This is an odd conclusion. One could easily conclude the opposite with respect to the YCJA. Let me show you how:

    The recidivism rate you quote here refers to the rate from people who have been incarcerated. One could conclude, therefore, that incarcerating youth makes it more likely they will reoffend.

    Fortunately for Canadians, the YCJA millitates against custody, and therefore most young persons do not receive a custodial sentence.

    If you want to be intellectually honest about your conclusion, you must look at the recidivism rate for all youth who come into contact with the justice system. You might find that restricting the use of custody means a lower recidivism rate.

  • Name

    Or you might not.

  • Name Joanna

    I believe that there was a comment in the article about deferred custody, which is not typically a custodial sentence. I do not know about Manitoba, but as a person who works in the criminal justice system in Ontario, I can say that there is a very high recidivism rate for all youth that come into the system, whether they serve a sentence or was diverted out of the system some how. I could not comment on the actual percentage.