Understanding Cases of Failure to Comply with A Disposition

Section II: Longitudinal Youth Court Data

Part 5: Provincial Variation

Description of Cases and Types of Sentences

As has been well-documented, there is considerable provincial variation in the use of youth court. Generally, the largest variation appears to be in bringing minor cases into court – more serious cases (e.g. serious violence) and proportions of cases found guilty or sentenced to custody generally show less variation (Doob and Sprott, 1996 [22]). There has, however, not been much research investigating provincial variation with the specific offence of “failure to comply with a disposition”.

This following section on provincial variation pools Newfoundland, PEI, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick into the “Eastern Provinces”. Because of small numbers, Manitoba and Saskatchewan have also been pooled together. There were also 15 cases from the Yukon which, given the small number, have been removed from the analysis. Thus, the sample size for this section of the report has been reduced to 9,196.

Looking at the type of case, it appears that anywhere from about 28.1% to 51.6% of the cases, across all provinces, involve only one conviction of failing to comply (Table 21). The eastern provinces, Ontario and Manitoba/Saskatchewan have similar proportions of cases with only one FTC conviction (roughly 28% to 29%). Alberta and BC have the highest proportion of single FTC conviction cases (44.1% and 51.6% respectively).

Across all provinces, anywhere from 36.1% to 73.6% of the cases have no other types of criminal convictions within the case. Alberta and especially BC stand out having the highest proportion of only FTC cases (58.5% and 73.6% respectively). Those provinces are also the ones that have the highest proportion of cases with only one single conviction for FTC (Table 21). The rest of the provinces have anywhere from roughly 36% to 47% of their cases with only FTC convictions.

It appears then, that the western provinces ( Alberta and BC especially) are most likely to have cases consisting only of FTC convictions. The trends for boys and girls were generally the same (see Appendix A; Table A5).

Table 21: Number of Failure to Comply (FTC) and Criminal Convictions in Cases by Province
  Eastern provinces Quebec Ontario Manitoba/
Saskatchewan
Alberta British Columbia Total
One FTC conviction only 28.1%
(255)
32.7%
(282)
29.3%
(1020)
28.6%
(400)
44.1%
(674)
51.6%
(526)
34.3%
(3157)
Two or more FTC convictions only 8.0%
(73)
14.7%
(127)
8.4%
(293)
10.6%
(148)
14.4%
(220)
22.0%
(224)
11.8%
(1085)
One FTC and one non-FTC conviction 27.7%
(252)
15.3%
(132)
24.4%
(850)
19.0%
(266)
13.7%
(209)
11.1%
(113)
19.8%
(1822)
One FTC and two or more non-FTC convictions 12.4%
(113)
15.3%
(132)
18.9%
(659)
20.8%
(291)
11.2%
(171)
6.2%
(63)
15.5%
(1429)
Two or more FTC and one or more non-FTC convictions 23.8%
(216)
22.0%
(190)
18.9%
(657)
21.0%
(293)
16.6%
(253)
9.2%
(94)
18.5%
(1703)
Total 100.0%
(909)
100.0%
(863)
100.0%
(3479)
100.0%
(1398)
100.0%
(1527)
100.0%
(1020)
100.0%
(9196)

Chi-square=682.74, df=20, p<.001

Another way of exploring criminal convictions is to look at the type of conviction. In this analysis, the 4,242 cases with only FTC convictions have been removed, leaving a sample of 4,954 cases. Table 22 shows that, except for Quebec, the majority of other types of convictions involved property offences – ranging from a low of 44.8% of the cases in Ontario to a high of 53.3% of the cases in the BC. Quebec, being the third highest province in having only FTC conviction cases, tended to have equal proportions of violence and property offences (roughly 37% for each). For the other provinces, violence accounted for anywhere from 17.4% ( Alberta ) to 30.6% ( Ontario ) of the cases. Only Quebec and Alberta had a larger proportion of serious violence than minor assaults. All of the other provinces had equal (or larger) proportions of minor assaults and serious violence. These trends are generally the same for boys and girls separately though there are very small numbers in some of the province by offence by gender combinations (see Appendix A: Table A6).

Generally then, the variation that occurs with respect to FTC cases is: Alberta and BC tend to have larger proportions of only FTC conviction cases (especially cases with only one FTC conviction) and therefore smaller proportions of cases with other criminal convictions, followed close by Quebec. The eastern provinces, Ontario and Manitoba/Saskatchewan all looked relatively similar to one another – with similar proportions of FTC only cases and other types of cases (within about a range of about 10%).

Table 22: Type of most Serious Conviction by Province
  Eastern
provinces
Quebec Ontario Manitoba/
Saskatchewan
Alberta British
Columbia
Total
Attempt murder, robbery, sexual assault, assault 2/3 9.1%
(53)
16.5%
(75)
12.3%
(267)
10.2%
(87)
8.2%
(52)
8.5%
(23)
11.2%
(557)
Minor assault 12.6%
(73)
9.5%
(43)
12.7%
(275)
10.7%
(91)
6.8%
(43)
9.3%
(25)
11.1%
(550)
Other violence (threats mainly) 6.7%
(39)
11.7%
(53)
5.6%
(122)
2.1%
(18)
2.4%
(15)
4.4%
(12)
5.2%
(259)
Break and enter 15.5%
(90)
14.8%
(67)
12.1%
(262)
16.0%
(136)
10.4%
(66)
12.2%
(33)
13.2%
(654)
Theft over/other thefts/other property 17.2%
(100)
14.5%
(66)
8.0%
(174)
9.5%
(81)
8.1%
(51)
7.8%
(21)
10.0%
(493)
Theft under 8.4%
(49)
1.1%
(5)
11.1%
(241)
13.5%
(115)
13.9%
(88)
17.4%
(47)
11.0%
(545)
Mischief/possession of stolen property 10.0%
(59)
6.2%
(28)
13.6%
(295)
12.6%
(107)
16.4%
(104)
15.9%
(43)
12.8%
(635)
Administration of justice 9.3%
(54)
5.1%
(23)
12.2%
(264)
14.9%
(127)
21.0%
(133)
13.7%
(37)
12.9%
(638)
Drugs 5.0%
(29)
14.5%
(66)
4.7%
(102)
1.2%
(10)
2.8%
(18)
3.0%
(8)
4.7%
(233)
Other 6.2%
(36)
6.2%
(28)
7.6%
(164)
9.2%
(78)
10.0%
(63)
7.8%
(21)
7.9%
(390)
Total 100.0%
(581)
100.0%
(545)
100.0%
(2166)
100.0%
(850)
100.0%
(633)
100.0%
(270)
100.0%
(4954)

Chi-square=461.49, df=45, p<.001

Table 23 shows a somewhat surprising use of custody between Alberta and BC. Alberta uses custody the least out of all the provinces (29% in open and secure) while BC uses custody the second most (50.6% in open and secure). This is somewhat surprising given that BC had the largest proportion (73.5%) of cases with only FTC convictions. Alberta had a similar – though not quite as high – proportion (58.5%) of cases with only FTC convictions but used custody the least. Clearly each province has a different idea about the types of sanctions that are appropriate for FTC cases, with BC predominately opting for custody and Alberta opting for other types of sanctions.

Ontario uses custody the most in Canada (56.9%), followed by BC (50.6%), the eastern provinces (47.2%), Manitoba/Saskatchewan (43.2%) and Quebec (39.6%). It is interesting that Ontario used custody more than the eastern provinces and Manitoba/Saskatchewan given that the composition of cases between those two provinces was somewhat similar (refer back to Tables 21 and 22). Once again, these trends were generally the same when looking at boys and girls separately (see Appendix A: Table A7).

Table 23: Most Serious Sentence for FTC Conviction by Province
  Eastern
provinces
Quebec Ontario Manitoba/
Saskatchewan
Alberta British
Columbia
Total
Secure custody 18.6%
(169)
26.4%
(228)
26.3%
(915)
24.2%
(338)
22.1%
(338)
20.2%
(206)
23.9%
(2194)
Open custody 28.6%
(260)
13.2%
(114)
30.6%
(1065)
19.0%
(266)
6.9%
(106)
30.4%
(310)
23.1%
(2121)
Probation 43.6%
(396)
36.8%
(318)
36.5%
(1269)
29.4%
(411)
18.7%
(286)
37.1%
(378)
33.3%
(3058)
Fine 4.2%
(38)
2.7%
(23)
4.3%
(149)
6.5%
(91)
25.7%
(393)
5.7%
(58)
8.2%
(752)
Community service order 2.5%
(23)
14.6%
(126)
1.4%
(50)
16.7%
(233)
16.7%
(255)
3.5%
(36)
7.9%
(723)
Other 2.5%
(23)
6.3%
(54)
0.9%
(31)
4.2%
(59)
9.8%
(149)
3.1%
(32)
3.8%
(348)
Total 100.0%
(909)
100.0%
(863)
100.05
(3479)
100.0%
(1398)
100.0%
(1527)
100.0%
(1020)
100.0%
(9196)

Chi-square=2042.59, df=25, p<.001

Criminal History and Previous Sentences

Table 24 shows the type of most serious conviction (ever) across provinces. When looking at the type of most serious conviction ever, there again appears to be considerable variation. Quebec and Ontario have similar proportions of violence convictions (roughly 52%). However, Ontario 's violence appears evenly split between more serious violence and minor assaults while Quebec has a larger proportion of serious violence (Table 25). The eastern provinces and BC have the third and fourth largest proportions of violence cases (roughly 48%), followed by Manitoba/Saskatchewan (44.7%). Alberta has the smallest proportion of violence cases (41.2%).

Both Quebec and Ontario have relatively small proportions of property offences (28.3% and 36.2% respectively). The eastern provinces and BC had the third and fourth largest proportions of property offences (roughly 40%). Given that Manitoba/Saskatchewan and Alberta did not appear to be reserving court for the more serious violent offences, they, not surprisingly, had the largest proportions of property offences (46.3% and 48%). (See Appendix A: Table A8 for boys and girls separately)

Table 24: The most serious conviction ever in a youth's history by province
  Eastern
provinces
Quebec Ontario Manitoba/
Saskatchewan
Alberta British
Columbia
Total
Attempt murder, robbery, sexual assault, assault 2/3 15.8%
(144)
27.7%
(239)
20.5%
(713)
21.3%
(298)
15.8%
(241)
21.2%
(216)
20.1%
(1851)
Minor assault 19.6%
(178)
13.0%
(112)
21.4%
(745)
17.5%
(245)
19.8%
(302)
16.3%
(166)
19.0%
(1748)
Other violence (threats mainly) 13.1%
(119)
12.4%
(107)
10.2%
(354)
5.9%
(82)
5.6%
(86)
10.5%
(107)
9.3%
(855)
Break and enter 18.0%
(164)
15.8%
(136)
13.0%
(451)
24.6%
(344)
17.7%
(271)
13.4%
(138)
16.4%
(1504)
Thefts over/other thefts/other property 11.0%
(100)
8.2%
(71)
6.4%
(222)
8.4%
(117)
7.4%
(113)
6.8%
(69)
7.5%
(692)
Theft under 5.2%
(47)
0.6%
(5)
7.8%
(273)
6.1%
(85)
9.6%
(147)
11.5%
(117)
7.3%
(674)
Mischief/possession of stolen property 5.9%
(54)
3.7%
(32)
9.0%
(312)
7.2%
(101)
13.3%
(203)
7.8%
(80)
8.5%
(782)
Administration of justice 2.9%
(26)
0.6%
(5)
4.3%
(149)
3.1%
(44)
3.3%
(51)
2.2%
(22)
3.2%
(297)
Drugs 2.3%
(21)
9.7%
(84)
2.0%
(70)
1.1%
(15)
2.1%
(32)
2.6%
(27)
2.7%
(249)
YOA offences 2.2%
(20)
1.9%
(16)
1.6%
(54)
1.5%
(21)
1.1%
(16)
4.0%
(41)
1.8%
(168)
Other 4.05
(36)
6.5%
(56)
3.9%
(136)
3.3%
(46)
4.3%
(65)
3.6%
(37)
4.1%
(376)
Total 100.0%
(909)
100.0%
(863)
100.0%
(3479)
100.0%
(1398)
100.0%
(1527)
100.0%
(1020)
100.0%
(9196)

Chi-square=703.27, df=50, p<.001

Table 25 shows the most recent (most serious) conviction before the FTC conviction. Once again, Quebec and Ontario have the largest proportion of cases with a violent conviction (roughly 29%). However, whereas Quebec appears to be reserving youth court for the most serious violence, Ontario appears to be using youth court for minor assaults (Table 27). The eastern provinces have the third largest proportion of violence offences (25.4%), the majority of which are minor assaults. Manitoba/Saskatchewan and BC both have roughly 20% of their cases with violent convictions as the most serious, most recent conviction with equal proportions of serious violence and minor assaults. Alberta has the lowest proportion of violence offences (16.9%) the majority of which are minor assaults.

Not surprisingly, Alberta has the largest proportion of property offences (43.4%) predominately consisting of theft under and mischief (Table 25). The second largest proportion of property offences is found in Manitoba/Saskatchewan (42.7%), followed by the eastern provinces (39%), Ontario (37%), BC (34%) and finally Quebec (30.3%). (See Appendix A: Table A9 for boys and girls separately).

Table 25: Most serious, most recent previous conviction by province
  Eastern
provinces
Quebec Ontario Manitoba/
Saskatchewan
Alberta British
Columbia
Total
Attempt murder, robbery, sexual assault, assault 2/3 7.4%
(67)
13.6%
(117)
10.0%
(348)
9.4%
(131)
5.5%
(84)
8.2%
(84)
9.0%
(831)
Minor assault 11.8%
(107)
8.1%
(70)
13.9%
(484)
9.0%
(126)
9.2%
(141)
7.1%
(72)
10.9%
(1000)
Other violence (threats mainly) 6.2%
(56)
7.3%
(63)
5.3%
(186)
2.4%
(33)
2.2%
(33)
4.9%
(50)
4.6%
(421)
Break and enter 12.1%
(110)
11.2%
(97)
9.6%
(334)
14.9%
(208)
8.9%
(136)
7.6%
(78)
10.5%
(963)
Theft over/other thefts/other property 13.0%
(118)
12.3%
(106)
6.7%
(233)
9.1%
(127)
6.8%
(104)
4.7%
(48)
8.0%
(736)
Theft under 5.9%
(54)
0.9%
(8)
10.2%
(356)
9.7%
(135)
13.8%
(210)
12.2%
(124)
9.6%
(887)
Mischief/possession of stolen property 8.0%
(73)
5.9%
(51)
10.5%
(364)
9.0%
(126)
13.9%
(213)
9.7%
(99)
10.1%
(926)
Administration of justice 8.7%
(79)
4.6%
(40)
9.8%
(342)
11.2%
(156)
9.8%
(150)
4.8%
(49)
8.9%
*816)
Drugs 2.8%
(25)
11.4%
(98)
3.0%
(106)
1.6%
(23)
2.4%
(37)
2.7%
(28)
3.4%
(317)
YOA offences 20.4%
(185)
17.7%
(153)
16.5%
(573)
19.0%
(265)
22.0%
(336)
35.0%
(357)
20.3%
(1869)
Other 3.9%
(35)
7.0%
(60)
4.4%
(153)
4.9%
(68)
5.4%
(83)
3.0%
(31)
4.7%
(430)
Total 100.0%
(909)
100.0%
(863)
100.0%
(3479)
100.0%
(1398)
100.0%
(1527)
100.0%
(1020)
100.0%
(9196)

Chi-square=827.67, df=50, p<.001

Table 26 shows the most serious (most recent) sentence before the FTC conviction across the provinces. The eastern provinces have the highest use of custody (40.5%) followed closely by Ontario (39.2%) and BC (38.2%). Manitoba/Saskatchewan have the third highest use of custody (32.4%) followed by Quebec (27.3%). It is interesting that Quebec has the second lowest use of custody given the larger proportion of cases with more serious types of offense compared to other provinces (see Tables 24 and 25). Alberta once again, has the lowest use of custody (21.6%). (See Appendix A: Table A10 for boys and girls).

Table 26: Most serious, most recent, sentence by province
  Eastern
provinces
Quebec Ontario Manitoba/
Saskatchewan
Alberta British
Columbia
Total
Secure Custody 17.3%
(157)
16.3%
(141)
18.4%
(639)
19.5%
(272)
16.4%
(250)
12.9%
(132)
17.3%
(1591)
Open Custody 23.2%
(211)
11.0%
(95)
20.8%
(725)
12.9%
(181)
5.2%
(80)
25.3%
(258)
16.9%
(1550)
Probation 55.2%
(502)
60.4%
(521)
55.0%
(1912)
51.9%
(726)
43.4%
(662)
55.4%
(565)
53.2%
(4888)
Fine 1.7%
(15)
1.2%
(10)
1.2%
(43)
2.1%
(30)
13.0%
(199)
1.7%
(17)
3.4%
(314)
CSO 1.4%
(13)
7.9%
(68)
3.1%
(109)
10.6%
(148)
16.5%
(252)
2.5%
(26)
6.7%
(616)
Other 1.2%
(11)
3.2%
(28)
1.5%
(51)
2.9%
(41)
5.5%
(84)
2.2%
(22)
2.6%
(237)
Total 100.0%
(909)
100.0%
(863)
100.0%
(3479)
100.0%
(1398)
100.0%
(1527)
100.0%
(1020)
100.0%
(9196)

Chi-square=1266.86, df=25, p<.001

Overall then, whether looking at the most serious conviction ever, or the most serious (most recent) conviction, Quebec and Ontario stand out as having the largest proportion of violence and smallest proportion of property offences. However, while Quebec reserves court for the more serious violence, Ontario has equal proportions of serious violence and minor assaults. Interestingly, Ontario has the highest use of custody when looking at the sentence immediately preceding the FTC conviction while Quebec has one of the lowest.

Alberta and Manitoba/Saskatchewan tend to have the smallest proportions of violent offences and the largest proportions of property offences in their youth courts. Interestingly, however, Alberta had the lowest use of custody (when looking at the most recent sentence before the FTC conviction) while Manitoba/Saskatchewan was in the middle among all six jurisdictions examined.

The eastern provinces and BC were somewhere in between the extremes of Quebec/Ontario and Alberta/Manitoba-Saskatchewan in terms of their offence compositions. However, those two provinces had relative high levels of custody when examining the most serious, most recent, sentence.

In order to explore whether the different provinces used custody more or less than Canada as a whole, (while controlling for the different case characteristics), a multiple regression was performed. The same eight variables that were used for the first regression were used again (see section II, part 3: pages 23/24 for the descriptions). This time, however, a flag for each province was created so that each province could be compared to the rest of Canada. Initial analyses showed no significant difference for the Eastern provinces compared to the rest of Canada so it has been omitted from the current analysis. Thus, there were five flags created:

  • FlagQB: 0=rest of Canada / 1 = Quebec
  • FlabON: 0=rest of Canada / 1 = Ontario
  • Flag Man-Sask: 0=rest of Canada / 1 = Manitoba/Saskatchewan
  • FlagALB: 0=rest of Canada / 1 = Alberta
  • FlagBC: 0=rest of Canada / 1 = British Columbia

Table 27 shows the results of this regression analysis. The results were the same as the earlier regression (Table 19). All of the predictors, except for gender, were statistically significant. The more serious the most serious conviction ever in the youth's history was, the more serious the current sentence was (predictor #2). The less serious the most recent conviction was, the more severe the current sentence was (predictor #3). Once again, this negative relationship appears to be due to the prevalence of harsher sentences for administration of justice and YOA convictions. If a youth had a conviction for an administration of justice offence or a YOA offence just before the FTC conviction, the sentence for the FTC conviction was considerably harsher. The more severe the previous sentence was (predictor #4), the more severe the current sentence for FTC was. The more previous cases the youth had (predictor #5) or the more serious the current convictions within the FTC cases were (predictor #6), the more severe the sentence was for the FTC conviction. The more non-FTC convictions (predictor #7) or the more FTC convictions with the case (predictor #8), the more severe the current sentence was.

Over and above those case characteristics, however, all of the flags for the provinces were also significant predictors of the use of custody. Quebec, Manitoba / Saskatchewan and Alberta used custody significantly less than the rest of Canada. Ontario and BC used custody considerably more than the rest of Canada, even once controlling for the case characteristics. Overall, these 12 significant predictors accounted for 26.7% of the variance in the type of sentence given for the failure to comply conviction.

Table 27: OLS regression examining the effect of legal factors, and province, on the most serious sentence given for the failure to comply conviction
  Unstandardized Coefficients Standardized Coefficients t Sig.
B Std. Error Beta    
(Constant) 2.459 .083   29.544 .000
1) Gender -.040 .029 -.012 -1.360 .174
2) Most serious conviction ever .013 .006 .027 2.403 .016
3) Most serious, most recent conviction -.023 .005 -.055 -4.761 .000
4) Most serious, most recent sentence .205 .011 .176 18.538 .000
5) Number of convicted cases preceding FTC case .175 .017 .114 10/436 .000
6) Most serious non-FTC conviction within the case .027 .005 .071 5.357 .000
7) Number of non-FTC convictions within the case .256 .017 .208 15.395 .000
8) Number of FTC convictions within the case .296 .018 .151 16.442 .000
9) FlagQB -.219 .055 -.048 -3.987 .000
10) FlagON .314 .043 .114 7.324 .000
11) FlagMan-Sask -.284 .049 -.076 -5.775 .000
12) FlagALB -.585 .049 -.162 -11.882 .000
13) FlagBC .252 .053 .059 4.729 .000

Dependent Variable: MSD (most serious sentence) for FTC conviction

Model Summary
R R Square Adjusted R Square Std. Error of the Estimate Change Statistics
R Square Change F Change df1 df2 Sig. F Change
.517 .267 .266 1.1478 .267 257.878 13 9182 .000


[22] Doob, A.N. and Sprott, J.B. (1996). Interprovincial variation in the use of youth courts. Canadian Journal of Criminology, 38(4), 401-412.

 

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