The Review Board Systems in Canada: An Overview of Results from the Mentally Disordered Accused Data Collection Study

2. Method

2. Method

The data collection strategy involved the manual extraction of data from administrative Review Board files in the following jurisdictions:

These seven provinces and territories represented approximately 88% of all active cases in the Review Board systems across Canada.[10] It is therefore likely that most summary statements made in this report would not be significantly affected by the addition of the remaining 12% of the cases in the other six jurisdictions (i.e., Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories). In other words, it is reasonable to assume that the aggregate results of this data collection will most often be representative of a "national" response to NCRMD and UST cases in Canada. It is recognized, however, that each provincial Review Board system is autonomous and operates individually within the boundaries of the law and that some jurisdictions may face unique issues in the processing of NCRMD and UST cases. For example, if Saskatchewan and Manitoba had been included, the high proportion of Aboriginal peoples involved with the justice system in those provinces might have influenced some of the findings in this report, such as the proportion of Aboriginal accused in the sample.

2.1 Data Collection

The unit of analysis in this study is the "case". A case is defined as a group of charges that are linked by a common NCRMD or UST verdict. The sample was randomly selected from all cases that were active between January 1, 1992 and December 31, 2004 in each of the seven jurisdictions. The term "active" means that the case must have contained at least one hearing in the twelve–year study period. Therefore, cases that began prior to 1992 were still included if the accused had at least one hearing after December 31, 1991.[11]

Using a pre-defined coding manual, data on particular aspects of each randomly selected case were manually recorded on a coding form.[12] The kinds of data collected included:

In many instances, an NCRMD or UST accused had been charged with more than one offence. In order to provide summary statements on such cases, the most serious charge (MSC) was selected to represent the case. The MSC was determined using the Seriousness Index developed by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Statistics Canada, which ranks the seriousness of charges based upon sentence lengths and potential harm to victims.

2.2 Sample and Weighting Procedure

Table 1 provides the number of cases sampled, the total number of cases within each jurisdiction, and the weighting values. The number of cases randomly extracted from British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec were determined using a standard sample size calculator, while half of the cases were randomly selected in Alberta and the entire available caseload was drawn from Prince Edward Island, Nunavut and the Yukon.

Table 1 – Sample Size, Population, and Weight by Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction Sample Size Population Weight
Prince Edward Island 12 12 1.000
Quebec 350 3,777 10.791
Ontario 343 3,210 9.359
Alberta 200 400 2.000
British Columbia 295 1,252 4.244
Nunavut 8 8 1.000
Yukon 20 20 1.000
TOTAL 1,228 8,679 7.067

Population is the total number of UST and NCRMD cases active between 1992 and 2004 in each jurisdiction.

In order to make summary statements that are more representative of the overall population of NCRMD and UST cases in the seven jurisdictions, all of the data presented in the Results Section have been weighted. The weighting procedure was developed based upon the total number of eligible cases in each of the seven jurisdictions. For example, in Ontario there were 3,210 cases deemed eligible for inclusion in this study. Therefore, each of the 343 cases sampled in Ontario represent 9.359 cases in the population. Since all eligible cases were selected in Prince Edward Island, Nunavut and the Yukon, these cases were given a weight of one.