Bail Violations, AOJOs and Remand

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October 2017

Research and Statistics Division

This fact sheet is based on publicly available data from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, a number of Justice Canada, Statistics Canada and academic studies conducted in Canada from 2011 to 2017 as well as data from an internal research report prepared by Justice Canada in 2013.

The vast majority of bail violations involve an administration of justice offence (AOJO)Footnote 1

A Justice Canada study (2013) found that based on a sample of 3,093 closed cases (as of 2008) collected from five courts across four Canadian jurisdictions, fewer than one fifth (18%) of accused released on bail violated their terms of release by the court. The vast majority (98%) of bail violations were breaches of release conditions or a failure to attend court.Footnote 2

In a number of cases, bail conditions are onerous and unrelated to the offence, which increases the accused’s chances of breaching their conditions

A 2013 studyFootnote 3 conducted in four courts in Ontario (Metropolitan area of Toronto), found that a number of bail conditions imposed on youth were unrelated to the offence and to the grounds for detention (e.g., abide by curfew, attend school, attend counseling). Specifically, about 41% of conditions imposed had no apparent connection to the allegations or grounds for detention, and a further 22% were only ambiguously connected.Footnote 4

Further, a studyFootnote 5 conducted in 2013 by the John Howard Society of Ontario found that these types of bail conditions were positively correlated to breaches. For example, over 81% of accused persons with a known alcohol issue in the sample were given a condition to not consume alcohol. Considering the accused’s addiction issues, it becomes onerous for the individual to abide by the condition.Footnote 6

AOJO charges have increased over time

While the overall rate of charging has declined over the years, the rate of charges for administration of justice offences has increased by 8% over the last ten years (respectively from 412 incidents per 100,000 population in 2006 to 443 incidents per 100,000 in 2015).Footnote 7 Similarly, the proportion of adult AOJO charges relating to failing to comply with an order, breach of probation and failing to appear, have almost doubled from 12% in 1998 to 23% in 2015.Footnote 8

Trends in AOJO charges vary across Canadian jurisdictions and by types of offenceFootnote 9

In 2015, the rate of AOJO charges was greater in Saskatchewan (2,170 charged per 100,000 population) and in the territories (Northwest Territories – 1,627 charged per 100,000 population; Yukon – 1,494 charged per 100,000 population and Nunavut – 1,132 charged per 100,000 population) compared to other provinces. Further, jurisdictional differences were also found between types of administration of justice offence. For example, in 2015, Manitoba had one of the lowest rates of charges for failure to appear but the second highest rate of charges for failure to comply with an order, after the territories.

AOJOs are more likely to result in a custodial sentenceFootnote 10

Across Canada, in 2014/15, about 51% of charges with an AOJO as the most serious offence received a custodial sentence whereas this proportion was 37% for all cases with a finding of guilt.

AOJOs are responsible for an important proportion of admissions to remand facilities and bail hearings

Data from five provinces indicate that in 2008/09, over two-thirds (68%) of admissions to remand involved non-violent offences. Of these, the most common offences were AOJOs, including failure to comply with a condition and breach of probation.Footnote 11 Similarly, a retrospective study based on data collected from various courts in five jurisdictions from April to June 2011 found that AOJO charges were present in over one third of cases in bail court (proportion varied by jurisdictions, ranging from 29% to 42%).Footnote 12

The population of adults on remand has increased and surpasses the number of sentenced adults

In 2015/16, adults in remand accounted for 59% of the custodial population in provincial and territorial facilities, up from 26% in 1990/91.Footnote 13, Footnote 14 Remand admissions have consistently surpassed sentenced admissions over the last ten years.Footnote 15 The same trend is seen in the youth system; in 2015/16, more than half (58%) of youth in custody were in pre-trial detention, up from 23% in 1997/98.Footnote 16, Footnote 17

There is variation in the trend in the number of days adults spend in remand across the countryFootnote 18

In 2014/15, the median number of days on remand varied across jurisdictions, from 4 (Québec) to 29 (Northwest Territories). Increases in these figures were reported from 1999/00 and 2008/09 in all provinces and territories that provided data with the exception of Ontario (where the length remained unchanged). Recent data suggest that as of 2014/15, the median number of days on remand has decreased since 2008/09 for all jurisdictions except Ontario, Quebec and British-Columbia (where the length remained unchanged). However, 2014/15 figures remain higher than in 1999/00, except for Ontario and Manitoba (remained unchanged) and Newfoundland and Labrador (decreased by 6%).

Indigenous people are overrepresented in the number of people receiving AOJOs and are more likely to be admitted to remand

Research has suggested that Indigenous people are over-represented in the number of people who receive AOJOs.Footnote 19 In 2014/15, Indigenous people represented one quarter (25%)Footnote 20 of adult admissions to remand, a proportion 8 times greater than their representation in the overall population (3%).Footnote 21 This proportion is up 9% from 2004/05 when 16% of adults admitted to remand were Indigenous.

Remand and AOJOs represent a significant cost to the criminal justice system

A study (2014) found that in Ontario, the average cost to incarcerate a person in jail is $183 a day.Footnote 22 This cost is significantly higher than the $5/day it costs to supervise an accused person in the community.Footnote 23 It was estimated that in 2009 the cost of AOJOs to the Canadian criminal justice system was $729 million.Footnote 24