State of the Criminal Justice System - 2019 Report

Executive summary

The Department of Justice Canada has created the first performance monitoring framework (Framework) for Canada’s criminal justice system (CJS). It comprises broad expected outcomes and selected national indicators. Performance monitoring helps identify trends, benchmarks, strengths, and areas for improvement; it involves regularly collecting information to monitor how a system is doing, such as whether and to what extent the system’s objectives are being achieved. This Framework is based on extensive research and feedback from multi-phased consultations with CJS partners, stakeholders, experts, and other Canadians. This State of the Criminal Justice System Annual Report presents information from the Framework.Footnote 1 Readers can also access an online interactive Dashboard.Footnote 2

The Department took on this work as part of its commitment to review the CJS and as part of its broader efforts to identify and address data gaps that hinder evidence-based decision-making. The State of the Criminal Justice System Annual Report and online Dashboard:

  • underscore the importance of having the right data to make decisions that can meaningfully affect the lives of Canadians;
  • improve accountability and transparency about the CJS to Canadians;
  • promote Open Government by making information about the CJS easier to access;
  • identify information gaps that limit the ability to monitor the performance of the CJS; and
  • respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Call to Action to report, monitor, and evaluate progress in addressing the issue of Indigenous people being overrepresented in the CJS.

The Framework is a work in progress, with modifications expected as performance measurement capacity and the CJS change. The Frameworkcurrently includes nine broad expected outcomes for the CJS that are measured by 41 national indicators. An additional 38 indicators or areas to consider were identified for possible inclusion in the Framework, but require further consultation to discuss data quality and data collection.

Each indicator includes a direction of improvement: increase, decrease, neutral.

Following are the nine expected outcomes:

  • Canadians are safe and individuals and families feel safe
  • The criminal justice system is fair and accessible
  • Canadians understand the role of and express confidence in the criminal justice system
  • The criminal justice system operates efficiently
  • The criminal justice system promotes and supports diversion, restorative justice, Indigenous justice, and tools for community-based resolution
  • The criminal justice system provides persons in the correctional system with services and supports to rehabilitate them and integrate them back into the community
  • The criminal justice system respects victims’ and survivors’ rights and addresses their needs
  • The criminal justice system reduces the number of Indigenous people in the system
  • The criminal justice system reduces the number of marginalized and vulnerable people in the system

Canada’s first national performance monitoring framework provides the foundation for understanding the current state of the CJS and provides a clear roadmap for further data development and data collection to inform legislation, policies, programs, and practices. The Framework reflects a common understanding of what the CJS is supposed to achieve and how to measure its achievements. The interactive Dashboard brings together information from multiple data sources in one easily accessible web application, and provides opportunities for stakeholders, academics, and other Canadians to share their research on the CJS.

Date modified: