Pre-Trial Detention Under the Young Offenders Act: A Study of Urban Courts

6. Multiple Detention Stays

6. Multiple Detention Stays

Thus far the focus of this report has been on the police and court detention that occurred at arrest on the charges that brought the case into the study sample. However, in addition, a substantial number of young persons were detained after their initial apprehension or were detained both at apprehension and subsequently. "Multiple detention stays" refer to the total number of police detentions during the court process.

The first part of this Section describes what is known about these stays for the sample as a whole. Section two looks at the forms of release by the police and the court as well as the relationships between the conditions of release and subsequent stays in pre-trial detention. More detailed information on the detention experiences of the sample were collected for accused persons in Halifax-Dartmouth and Toronto. This information is analyzed in the third section of this Section.

6.1 The Total Number of Stays in Police Detention

When post-arrest detention stays are taken into consideration we find that the use of pre-trial detention takes a substantial leap in numbers.

  • Young persons who were never detained during their court process comprised 38 percent of the sample.
  • Youth were only detained at arrest make up 33 percent of the sample. Some accused were detained at arrest and were also subsequently detained: 13 percent. Others were not detained at arrest but were detained later in the process: 16 percent.  
  • Therefore, almost three out of ten young persons were held after their initial arrest, during the court process.

As the "Total" column in Table 6.1 shows:

  • In the entire sample, 38 percent were never detained by police;
  • 44 percent had one stay;
  • 13 percent had two stays; and,
  • 5 percent had three or more stays.

Of the seven court locations in Table 6.1, Vancouver had the largest number of detention stays. The normative practice for police of detaining youth at apprehension partly accounts for the finding and partly because warrants are frequently issued for breaches. The next highest use of detention was in Winnipeg. Halifax-Dartmouth had by far the fewest stays.

Table 6.1

These data are startling. Except in Halifax, the majority of cases experienced detention by police during their court process and in Toronto and Winnipeg, two-thirds of cases had one or more periods in detention.

The procedural reasons for the stays after the initial arrest are listed in Table 6.2. One-third of the stays involved a failure to attend court as required, 28 percent involved non-compliance with one or more release conditions, and 24 percent had occurred because the young person had acquired a new substantive charge (i.e., other than an administration of justice offence). Therefore, almost seven out of ten stays were precipitated by an administration of justice charge.

Table 6.2

6.2 Subsequent Police Detentions by Form of Release and Conditions Imposed by Police/Court

6.2.1 Police Detention and the Conditions Imposed

The question examined here is whether the type of release of police, in particular the imposition of a police undertaking with conditions, had any relation to the number of subsequent detention stays. If police undertakings are more likely to involve subsequent detention periods, then we can tentatively conclude that violations of the conditions may have precipitated the later police detention. Subsequent, post-arrest stays in detention are a surrogate indicator for subsequent bail violations. (Unfortunately, we cannot tackle directly the question, "what conditions, if any, resulted in subsequent bail violations".) In fact, there is no relationship between the form of release by police and the number of periods in detention. For example, 29 percent of those initially released on an appearance notice and 26 percent of persons released on a police undertaking were subsequently detained.

We also looked to see if specific conditions were more likely to result in later detention and, again, there was no difference in the number of detention stays by the type of condition. These data are not shown in table form.

Therefore, there are no relationships between the type of release by police or the conditions of police release and later periods in detention. It is reasonably safe to assume that police undertaking conditions did not increase the likelihood of bail violations.

6.2.2 Form of Release and Conditions Imposed by the Court

Young persons released to a responsible person (section 7.1 of the YOA) were more likely than others to be later detained by police. Almost 60 percent of those released to a relative or other person returned to detention during their court process, compared to 40 percent of those released on an undertaking and 31 percent of youth released on a recognizance.

Next, we explored whether any of the conditions imposed by the court were more likely to result in another detention stay. Overall, 40 percent of youth released on conditions were later detained one or more times by police. When we compare youth with and without a curfew condition, it is apparent that young persons with curfews were significantly more likely to return to detention. Comparing those with and without a no-contact victim condition, it is apparent that those ordered not to contact a victim were less likely than their counterparts to experience a later detention stay (Table 6.3). We conclude from this analysis that having a curfew may work to the disadvantage of youth.

Table 6.3

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