Canada’s Prison Numbers and Costs Are Rising

OTTAWA, Ontario — Canada’s prisons were a little fuller last year, with an almost 1 percent increase in the rate of adults serving time, according to the Toronto Sun.

The cost to run prisons went up to handle it, too.

During the 2010-2011 year, there were approximately 38,000 adults in prison, according to a report by Statistics Canada. Roughly 36 percent were serving sentences of two years or more — a 3 percent increase in the rate of incarceration in federal Canadian penitentiaries over the year before.

Another 29 percent of inmates were serving provincial or territorial sentences of less than two years — a rate increase of 7 percent from the previous year. The majority of these, approximately, 76 percent were for non-violent offences like drug or property crimes or impaired driving, except in the Northwest Territories and Manitoba, where violent crimes accounted for 74 percent and 62 percent of admissions, respectively.

The remaining third were in custody awaiting trial or sentencing.

Overall, there were 900 more inmates, or a 0.9 percent increase in the rate of incarceration, putting Canada right around the middle among 34 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. The rate is the percentage of prisoners per 100,000 people.

The number of adult offenders under correctional supervision (usually probation) remained relatively stable, at about 125,000.

The cost to house and care for prisoners went up by 1.4 percent, to $4.1 billion. About 76 percent, of which, covers salaries, wages and benefits, and one-quarter (24 percent) goes toward operating expenditures.

StatsCan estimates the average daily cost per federal inmate at about $357, nearly double the $172 per day it costs to imprison a provincial or territorial inmate.