Why don't I do the synopsis, keeping in mind the suggestion that was just made that I do it slowly? I will launch through a couple of thoughts.
My understanding is that the committee is interested in getting information in three areas with respect to the costing implications: first of all, some statistics on the increase in the inmate population that would occur if the bill went through; secondly, some information generally on how much it would cost to keep a person in jail for a year; and finally, some information as to whether or not there are differences in costing as between federal and provincial levels and also as between different levels of security.
Dealing with each of those three issues in turn, I'll deal first with the statistics on the increase in the inmate population that is projected if the bill passes.
My understanding is that Minister Toews was here yesterday and gave the committee what's effectively the bottom line, which is that by the fifth year after the implementation of the bill, we anticipate an increase of approximately 270 offenders per year. Based on historical analysis of federal offenders who have been convicted of firearms offences and on projected population trends, it's our estimate that this increase of 270 offenders could be broken down further across security levels as follows: we are anticipating 82 additional offenders in maximum, 164 in medium, and 24 in minimum security.
What that means in practical terms is a new medium security institution and some additional maximum security space. The increase in minimum security can be accommodated within existing institutions because we have a surplus, apparently, at that security band.
In terms of the bottom line, what it comes down to for cost—and my understanding is that Minister Toews has already given this to you yesterday—it would mean approximately $246 million over the first five years, that's operating and capital included, and approximately $40 million ongoing thereafter.
That's the first question, and I'm going to turn to the next two.
How much does it cost to keep a person in jail for a year? I should indicate at the outset that the latest data I can give is for the 2004-05 costing year. The 2005-06 figures will be available for public release soon, and if it's helpful to the committee, we can provide those to you when they're available.
In terms of the cost at the institutional level to maintain an offender, using the 2004-05 estimates--I'll read out some numbers slowly--it's $87,919 in an institution, or $241 a day, and it's $20,320 in the community, or $56 a day, for an overall combined total of $68,216, or $187 per day. If you take the institutional number and the community number and tie them together for an organizational average, that's how you get the $68,216.
I'm going to break it down now on the basis of security level--and I'm happy to go through the numbers a couple of times, if that's helpful. In terms of the cost at each security level, it's obviously more expensive at a maximum level, where it's $113,591; at a medium level it's $75,661; and at a minimum level it's $83,643. I can explain to you in a minute why that's slightly higher than at the medium security level. For women's facilities it's $166,642. When you do an average of our institutional ranges, which I've just read to you, that gets you the $87,919 that I mentioned to you a moment ago.
Dealing with the community side of the equation, if you look at our CCCs, it's $49,043. When you look at those individuals on parole, it's $19,113. That results in an overall average in the community of $20,320--a number I shared with you a few minutes ago. It's an overall average, when you look across our entire system, of $68,216.
Would it be helpful, Mr. Chairman, if I went through the numbers again?
From the top--again, these are 2004-05 numbers.
Maximum security, $113,591; medium security, $75,661; minimum security, $83,643; women's facilities, $166,642; and overall average in the institutions, $87,919.
In the community, CCCs, $49,043; for those individuals on parole, $19,113; and the overall average in the community, $20,320. The overall average cost of maintaining an offender across the system, $68,216.
I can get you that number, Mr. Chairman.
As of October 2006, CSC is responsible for 21,277 offenders, of whom 12,992 are incarcerated and 8,285 are supervised in the community.
Mr. Marc Lemay: Repeat slowly because we need interpretation.
Mr. Ian McCowan: I'm sorry, I'll speak carefully and more slowly.
Again, that's 21,277 offenders. In terms of incarcerated offenders, it's 12,992; and in terms of offenders supervised in the community, it's 8,285.
So, Mr. Chairman, to round out a couple of additional facts in answer to the three questions that were posed initially by the committee, the explanation, very quickly, for why minimum is more expensive than medium is that we have a considerable amount of surplus space at minimum at the present time.
Turning lastly to the issue of provincial comparisons, I can indicate that the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics does publish some comparative data. It's a little difficult to compare, for a few reasons. It's a bit of an apples and oranges problem. There are differences in how various correctional systems calculate their inmate populations and also differences in terms of what expenses are attributable to maintaining offenders. That said, clearly the federal system is more expensive than the provincial systems, and there are a few reasons for that.
First of all, there is a need for a higher level of security in the federal system, given the nature of our inmates. Second, we have a greater presence in terms of programs and interventions, again given that we have a more difficult population who are with us for longer periods of time. All of that said as qualifiers, Mr. Chairman, I can give you some comparative data that, again, the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics published in relation to the 2004-05 year. They calculate the provincial cost on aggregate as being $141.78 per day. That's $141.78 per day compared with $259.05 per day federally. That's $259.05 per day federally.
You will have noted, Mr. Chairman, that I provided you with another figure a few minutes ago of $241 per day in terms of the cost of maintaining an offender federally for the 2004-05 year. The difference is simply that there are some different costing assumptions that are in play between the two figures, the one from CSC and the one from CCJS, the largest one being the inmate count that's used. It's a flow-through population, so there are different methodologies you can use in terms of how you count inmates. That effectively is the major difference for the two numbers being different. They are both working on the same institutional operating expenditures.
Mr. Chairman, I apologize for the number of numbers that were used in the course of that presentation. I hope they're all there in terms of everyone's notes.
Mr. Toller and I would be pleased to answer any questions the committee might have.
Yes. Currently, if you look at Nunavut, there is no federal capacity to contain offenders there. As you know, there is an institution on Baffin Island, which is territorially governed. So when inmates receive a federal sentence from Nunavut, they are transported into our federal system.
What we have done is create an institution specifically to accommodate Nunavut types of offenders, which is located Fenbrook, just north of Toronto. So we have adapted to some level of Nunavut programming and engaged with some Nunavut communities to try to bring Nunavut culture and spirituality there. We have special food feasts with those types of inmates and so on.
If we were to look at the possibility of building a federal institution in that area, as Mr. McCallum pointed out, it would be the best of the operation planners.
But I can certainly tell you that costs in the northern Arctic are generally much higher for what you would do with personnel concerning the northern allowance. There's a capacity to attract people to work in that particular type of environment—transportation costs and things along that line.
Yes. Maybe I could just back up a step. When a person receives a federal sentence and comes into the federal system, there's always an individual assessment made of their needs. What is it that they need to have in programming to assess their level of rehabilitation? A person with serious substance abuse would identify in those areas.
What we do within the Correctional Service is differentiate between someone who, for example, might be a hardcore heroin user and require a more intensive type of program and someone who might just be a casual user and have some sort of level of ability.
It is similar with violence and all those particular skills that we would look at—employment, education, and so on. So everything is based on an individual's needs.
As you know, we look after inmates serving two years and more. We could have a person for a life sentence, for ten years, or for two years. Within the realm of what a person has, we look for the individual needs, and we prioritize based on potential sentence length.
For those who go into the community, there's a natural extrapolation of programs delivered on the inside that would go to the outside. Some are sustaining ability. If a person has been incarcerated and has been involved in programming for substance abuse, the community would have programs available out there for sustaining the gains made within the realm of the program the person took. It is similar with violence.
So there is a movement in which the programs that are initiated for the needs of the maximum, the medium, or the minimum move into the community. In the community, we have program delivery officers, parole officers, who provide both a counselling and a supervisory approach to the inmate's behaviour.
First, I would like to thank you for joining us.
Your statement today to the committee was very interesting. Having practised criminal law for 20 years, I know that several of my clients are housed in CSC facilities. Well, a least a few of them are. I'm really fascinated by the day-to-day side of your operations.
I want to have a good grasp of the issue. There are a few things that I didn't quite get, and I assure you that it is not the fault of our interpretation services.
Inmates in a maximum security facility are serving sentences of 10 years or more. How does it work? Can you explain to me which penitentiaries are minimum, medium and maximum security facilities? For example, La Macaza is a minimum security penitentiary. Is Cowansville a medium security penitentiary? No, it's not. I would simply like some concrete examples, in terms of the length of sentences. Port-Cartier is a maximum security penitentiary. What about the others? How does it work?
I'm not sure that I totally understand what you mean by probation. If, during the course of the sentence, right up to warrant expiry, an individual is out under parole, or under a statutory release under conditions, we have parole officers who will be working with them and monitoring their conditions. There are, however, a number of other things that can happen in the criminal justice system after the warrant expiry date.
For example, the Crown could apply for a section 810 under the Criminal Code to get conditions imposed on a recently released inmate. We would not play any role in the enforcement or the supervision of those conditions. However, we would play a role in terms of long-term supervision orders. Sometimes an individual gets a so-called LTSO, which extends past the end of WED, and we would play a role in LTSOs.
Ross, did you want to expand on the LTSO piece?
Give it to us subsequently. Send it to the chair or the clerk of this committee.
If I could, Mr. Chair, if it could be circulated at that point—
Mr. McCowan, the reason I wanted that information is I'm trying to figure out the criteria or the assumptions you or your department made to determine the $246 million figure. Given the severity of the penalties, am I safe in assuming most of the people, if convicted and sentenced under this bill, would go into maximum security?
Welcome, and thank you for being here.
I wasn't surprised by the figures. I know that protecting society is a very costly venture and something has to be done, but the cost of crime is pretty expensive too. I'm going to do quite a bit of research in the future on that.
In New York City, for example, when they brought in their broken window theory, graffiti, it didn't matter, you went to jail if you were arrested. Apparently there has been a tremendous savings to that city because of the decrease in crime versus the incarceration of the people who committed it.
Do you have any information on that?
I might deliver that information to you when I finish my work with those authorities. I found it very interesting to see that you could actually save money by putting people in jail, in terms of protecting society. It was very effective.
Out of the 8,285 people who are on house arrest, community service, or whatever, do you have any information on how many break their commitments, parole, or conditional sentencing and end up back in jail?
Yes, administrative segregation; I'll call it solitary confinement.
I've been to several prisons in the last year, as I was ten years prior, so I've been renewing my visits. The increased amount of gang activity in the penitentiaries is phenomenal, just amazing.
When checking on the solitary confinement areas, or administrative whatever-you-call-it, they're full almost all of the time. And most of them are full because of requests from the inmates, not because they're being punished and sent there; most of the inmates are there at their own request, for protection.
Is there quite an additional cost when you fill up your segregated units?
I would say there is not a direct cost.
What you speak to is certainly, without question, the immense increase in gangs in our incarcerated population. Right now we're trying to manage over fifty different types of gangs within our facilities. I think what you speak to really does create some population management difficulties for us in trying to manage those different types of groups. We continue to work to try to develop different types of gang strategies for the manageability of this.
A number of people do go into administrative segregation because of fear for their own safety or concerns about what's going on. It doesn't create additional costs per se; those would be reflected in the numbers that Mr. McCowan gave you. But segregated inmates do create operational difficulties for us, which we struggle with in getting them back into a regular population, creating those conditions of success for inmates to be able to participate in programs, and so on.
Yes, there is some training that is provided right now. It's necessary to evolve even the training associated with gangs because there are so many differentiations and so many differences between what would normally be seen to be your traditional motorcycle gang versus an aboriginal gang versus an Asian gang versus all these different types. What's their motivation? What's their raison d'être? What's their goal? What's their purpose?
As Mr. McCowan points out, the amount of gang activity has increased dramatically for us here. This is what we do in terms of responsivity to try to deal with these particular gangs. Each institution has a security intelligence officer who looks to gather information. A lot of systems we've developed are sharing information. So if visitor X is visiting somebody at Kingston Penitentiary and then also now is visiting at Millhaven Penitentiary, we can do cross-correlations. We work extremely closely with the police.
One of the newest initiatives that we are heading into in this particular year from the funding we received is we're hiring community liaison officers. They are actually police officers who are coming to work with us in the institution, to begin to look at sharing intelligence and gang information. We have 17 who are on track to be hired. We don't have them all ramped up yet. I think seven or eight are right now on site, as we speak, and I think the other additional ones are supposed to be hired before the end of December, to try to be responsive to this particular issue.
That's where it levels out to--270. No more than 270 would be the projections, unless new legislation comes in and changes it. But it wouldn't be five times 270; it would be 270, 270...because those who are coming in will eventually be going out as well.
So in a very quick summary, if you take, on average, a person, for argument's sake, serving a four-year sentence today for a weapons-related offence, and new legislation comes in and makes it seven years, for argument's sake, then the differential is really three years of that. So eventually those numbers will catch up, but those others will be released as we go through.
Speaking of relevancy, it's difficult to see that coming from the member who raised the point of order, but I will continue.
The NDP platform says:
||—gun violence has reached crisis proportions. Firm, balanced and urgent action is needed without delay. ...illegal guns – many of them imported from the U.S. or stolen from homes – must be taken off the street. Hand guns have no place in our cities.
The proposals put forward were as follows:
||• Increase the mandatory minimum penalty for possession, sale and importation of illegal arms such as hand guns, assault rifles and automatic weapons. Place each of these minimum penalties at four years, up from current one-year penalty.
||• Add mandatory minimum sentences to other weapons offences. Place a four-year minimum sentence on all weapon offences, such as “possession of a concealed weapon”.
||• Amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act so youth offenders 16 or older who commit a crime using a gun will be tried as adults—
||• Support legislative, regulatory and sentencing initiatives to embody the principle that handguns have no place in cities, except in the hands of law enforcement officials.
When we're looking at different ideas and when we're talking about Conservative proposals, it is important to understand what different proposals may cost. If we were to look away from the current proposals, it is important to see that contrast.
What type of cost do you think would be associated with the NDP promise to Canadians in the last election? Would there be increased costs with what they promised?
I'm surprised that we're having a lot of discussion about the cost here today, on the one hand. I think you're going to actually provide that in terms of the capital cost and ongoing operational cost.
One of the questions that hasn't been asked yet—I don't think it has been—is the actual cost of not having these individuals in prison. My good friends from across the way seem to be absolutely concerned only about the financial cost to the taxpayer. They don't seem to be all that concerned about the cost of life, the cost of the impacts that criminals have on individuals, families, and communities if in fact we don't move forward in this direction. I wondered if, from a broader perspective, that was actually looked at in terms of a direction to take.
Thank you to the witnesses for being here.
I think one of the problems, as I see it, when we talk about cost to the taxpayer--and I appreciate all the numbers you've provided, and thank you for your testimony--is that when we look at things from a public policy perspective, my thought is that we don't look just at the gross cost of something; we have to look at the net cost to taxpayers. I'm not necessarily looking for a response on this. I think one of the things we were taking into account when drafting this legislation was that there is a cost.
I was speaking to some individuals in Toronto, where they specifically targeted a certain gang in one neighbourhood. They had rounded up this gang and put them in prison. They saw a noticeable decline, almost a 100% decline, in the gun violence that had been taking place in that neighbourhood.
The members opposite have been doing all kinds of math and number crunching and so on, and that's important. But I think it's unfortunate when our only thought that seems to be going into something is some sort of dollar figure that we assess. What will it cost us to put this individual in prison? The logic I get from the members opposite seems to be, “Well, that sounds expensive, so we'd better not do it.”
The thinking we've put into it, and that I think Canadians have put into it, is that there's also a cost to having people who are dangerous out on the streets. And sometimes that cost is not measured in dollars; it's measured in lives, in broken families, and so on, when people have been victimized.
I do want to make that point, because there seems to be this obsession with number crunching. You can do your best job at estimating. I appreciate that you've done that. But no one, including the members opposite, is going to be capable of knowing exactly the cost, one way or another. But we do our best to get that estimate.
I'm wondering if you can just let the committee know some of the reasons for the difference between maximum/medium or maximum/minimum. What are some of the extra precautions that are in place for those maximum positions, and can you elaborate on that disparity?
If I could, there is a difference between our security levels. Our maximum security level institutions have very restricted movement and control and surveillance in the interior of these types of establishments. Therefore, there is a continuous, ongoing, higher operational cost associated with the security factors necessary in being responsible in maximum security. Maximum security also has a very strong perimeter that is protected either by fences or by a system of detection and a system of response.
A medium security level institution would have a perimeter that is just as strong as the maximum security level institution, and the interior would still have controls and barriers, but they would be less stringent than what you would find in a maximum security level institution. Therefore, again, your operational cost would be somewhat reduced as a result of the maintenance of the operation.
Similarly, in a minimum security institution, while there is a defined perimeter, there is not a containment factor, such as a fence. But there are operational costs associated with managing minimum. The reason, I think, as Mr. McCallum pointed out a bit earlier, that the costs currently reflect a higher cost in the minimums than in the mediums is simply because the number of inmates right now in minimum security is significantly down. Our maximum security facilities right now are full. Our medium security levels are currently full. Minimum is where we have bed space. So if you divide the costs associated with the average, that's why the numbers are different.
There's no question that the maximum security costs are higher than the other two. As we discussed earlier, there is the unusual situation right now that the minimum costs are actually higher than the medium, only for the reason that we have additional surplus capacity in the minimum.
What I would say is that the costing factor really kicks in, in relation to the maximum security space. If you look, for example, at the comparison of the cost from medium to maximum, you're looking at a jump, in 2004-05 figures, of roughly $75,000 to $113,000. That's where you see the big jump.
There is a general, normal, traditional trend somewhere that hovers around 2.2% normal growth in incarcerated populations. However, everything must be cross-referenced against any new legislation, any functioning going on in the community, a responsive increase to police officers--it's a very complex formula--and then per capita population totals in the country.
If your question is, are we looking at building new facilities...every year we look at our capital accommodation plan. Sometimes we have to make some adjustments, looking to convert a medium security level to a minimum security level based on what's coming in and what we have within our stock. We do that on a yearly basis. Of course, as you know, we plan these things, and what you plan today...sometimes circumstances change over time.
Yes, we looked at some increased cell capacity totally separate from here as a result of some of the other activities going on.