State of the Criminal Justice System - 2019 Report

Development of the Framework

The Framework provides the foundation for understanding the current state of the CJS and provides a clear roadmap for further data development and data collection necessary to fully understand how the CJS is performing. The Department developed the Framework for the Canadian CJS through extensive research and by consulting with key federal, provincial, and territorial government partners; criminal justice data holders; academics; community organizations; Canadians; and other experts in criminal justice policy, performance measurement, Indigenous justice, and Indigenous legal traditions. As a starting point, the Department reviewed national and international research on performance measurement initiatives.Footnote 5 It also consulted with many groups in 2017 and 2018 to obtain information so it could broadly define the expected outcomes of the CJS and identify indicators and data sources to measure these outcomes.Footnote 6

The Framework comprises nine broad expected outcomes for the CJS, such as community safety, fairness and access, public confidence, and efficiency. The outcomes can be measured by 41 performance indicators at the national level. Some indicators could be placed under more than one outcome; however, a best-fit assessment was made to limit repetition.

The Framework currently relies on data from the Department of Justice Canada (JUS), the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (CCJS) at Statistics Canada (STC), the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC), and the Office of the Correctional Investigator (OCI). The report and Dashboard present the most recent data at the time of publication.

The Framework is seen as an evergreen and iterative process that builds on the data. This first edition is intended to lead to a stronger Framework with a more complete set of indicators to monitor performance, and stronger, reliable data collection.

The Framework – Outcomes and indicators
Expected Outcome Indicator Data Source


Canadians are safe and individuals and families feel safe

1. Police-reported crime STC
2. Crime severity STC
3. Self-reported victimization STC
4. Satisfaction with personal safety from crime STC


The criminal justice system is fair and accessible

1. Public perception that the criminal justice system is fair to all people JUS
2. Public perception that the criminal justice system is accessible to all people JUS
3. Approved criminal legal aid applications JUS
4. Clients served by the Indigenous Courtwork Program JUS
5. Pre-trial detention/remand STC
6. Office of the Correctional Investigator complainants OCI


Canadians understand the role of and express confidence in the criminal justice system

1. Public awareness of the role of the criminal justice system JUS
2. Public confidence in the police STC
3. Public confidence in the Canadian criminal courts STC
4. Victimization incidents reported to the police STC


The criminal justice system operates efficiently

1. Offence clearance rate STC
2. Case completion time STC
3. Administration of justice offences STC


The criminal justice system promotes and supports diversion, restorative justice, Indigenous justice, and tools for community-based resolution

1. Incarceration rate STC
2. Criminal incidents cleared by referral to a diversionary program STC
3. Drug treatment court program referrals JUS


The criminal justice system provides persons in the correctional system with services and supports to rehabilitate them and integrate them back into the community

1. Intensive Rehabilitative Custody and Supervision youth cases receiving specialized treatment JUS
2. Mental health services in federal corrections CSC
3. Correctional programs in federal corrections CSC
4. Educational programs in federal corrections CSC
5. Individuals under federal correctional supervision granted parole PBC
6. Successful completion of statutory release without revocation in federal corrections PBC
7. Individuals under federal correctional supervision who secure employment before their sentence ends CSC
8. Community release plan for Indigenous people in federal custody CSC


The criminal justice system respects victims' and survivors' rights and addresses their needs

1. Victim satisfaction with the actions taken by police STC
2. Individuals registered as a victim to receive information about an individual who harmed them PBC


The criminal justice system reduces the number of Indigenous people in the system

1. Self-reported victimization among Indigenous people STC
2. Police-reported homicide victims identified as Indigenous STC
3. Police-reported homicide accused identified as Indigenous STC
4. Indigenous admissions to provincial/territorial correctional services STC
5. Indigenous admissions to federal correctional services STC
6. Indigenous people among the total federal offender population CSC
7. Indigenous people designated as Dangerous Offenders CSC


The criminal justice system reduces the number of marginalized and vulnerable people in the system

1. Self-reported violent victimization among marginalized and vulnerable populations STC
2. Police contact among individuals with a mental or substance use disorder STC
3. Mental health needs in federal corrections CSC
4. Visible minorities in federal corrections CSC

Data gaps, limitations, and caveats

The CJS is a complex mix of systems and is administered differently across Canada. Producing a national account of the CJS thus hides some of the differences in processes and practices across the country. In addition, it is impossible and impractical to report on all possible outcomes and indicators. Consensus was not expected or achieved through consultations. Furthermore, the reported data are only as strong as the data collection efforts used to inform the outcomes and indicators. Indicators often suffer from data that are missing, unavailable, or inconsistently reported.

Not all relevant performance indicators are currently available or collected at a national level. An additional 38 indicators or areas of importance were identified for possible inclusion in the Framework, but require further consultation to discuss data collection, data quality, and data monitoring capabilities. Examples of these indicators and areas included crime prevention, oversight of the CJS, identification of marginalized groups, and recidivism. Refer to Annex 1 for a summary of indicators and areas for future data development.

CJS indicators are useful in providing information on the system’s performance, directing attention to areas in need of improvement, and facilitating better resource planning. However, they cannot, on their own, explain the system’s performance, nor can an indicator explain trends in data. The reasons for any changes over time must be examined independently of the Framework.

A final caveat to note is that while it is recognized that not everyone in Canada is considered Canadian (e.g., non-permanent residents) and some Indigenous people do not identify as Canadian, for the purpose of analysis and reporting, we use the term “Canadians” to coincide with the terminology used by Statistics Canada, Canada’s national statistical office.