Thank you, Chair and members of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, for inviting me here today to talk about research conducted by the Correctional Service of Canada in the context of your study on the state of organized crime.
My name is Dr. Larry Motiuk. Currently I am a special advisor, on assignment, with others, on an infrastructure renewal team in CSC. Also, I am an adjunct research professor in the Department of Psychology at Carleton University. I have a doctorate degree in psychology and a master's degree in clinical psychology.
I began my correctional career at the maximum security Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre and was an employee of the Ontario Ministry of Correctional Services until 1988. During this period, I provided direct clinical services to remanded and sentenced offenders, and I conducted research and have co-authored publications on restitution, halfway house selection, and inmate classification. Until recently, I served as the director general of offender programs and reintegration, from 2006 until 2010, at CSC national headquarters. In this position I provided advice on policies, planning, and legislation relative to institutional, community, and operational management of offenders. As an employee of CSC for the past 22 years, I have served as director general of research for 13 years, having supervised and evaluated operational research projects on a national scale. These include mental health, offender intake assessment, risk management, offender reintegration, substance abuse, security, and health care. Over the years, I have published widely, and I have worked directly with various departments of corrections in jurisdictions abroad.
In 2005, the corrections policy unit of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada requested assistance and offered support to the CSC research branch to conduct focused research on federal offenders admitted with criminal organization offences.
In collaboration with Mr. Ben Vuong, a CSC research officer at the time, we developed a research framework and conducted preliminary analyses of available information related to exploring the impact of organized crime legislation in general and offenders who are required to serve sentences for organized crime offences in particular. Consequently, I was intimately involved in the research and co-authoring of two research briefs on federal offenders with criminal organization offences and as such have knowledge of the matters hereinafter deposed to.
Basically there were two studies. The first study was done in 2005 and was entitled “Federal Offenders with Criminal Organization Offences: A Profile”. By way of a little bit of background, in 1997, the Government of Canada took action against organized crime by amending the Criminal Code to make participation in a criminal organization an indictable offence, and it enhanced the investigative powers of police. On December 18, 2001, strong new legislation to fight organized crime, Bill C-24 at the time, received royal assent. Bill C-24 further amended the Criminal Code and introduced three new offences and tough sentences that targeted various degrees of involvement with criminal organizations. Criteria used to construct the specified population to be studied involved the selection of all admissions to federal corrections serving sentences for organized crime offences since 1997, both pre-Bill C-24, which was 1997 through to 2001, and after Bill C-24, from 2002 to 2004. Admission data were drawn from the service's automated offender management system, known as OMS, over an eight-year period. Admission trends, sentence lengths, related offences, demographics--gender, age, ethnicity, criminal background, correctional history and criminogenic factors, such as criminal associations, drug abuse, etc.--were explored.
Here are some highlights from the study, and these studies are both available on the CSC Infonet or Internet site.
A total of 220 cases met the initial criteria for selection into the study using the Criminal Code descriptions for organized crime offences in the offender management system. As previously noted, Bill C-24, in 2001, introduced three new Criminal Code offences--and I won't go into the sections--that replaced the one offence that was in place at the time. More specifically, 134, or 61% of the sample, were identified for participation in a criminal organization; 16, or 7.3%, were identified for participation in activities of a criminal organization; 62, or 28.2%, were identified for the commission of an offence for a criminal organization; and there were 8, or 3.6%, identified for instructing the commission of an offence for criminal organizations.
In this study we observed that the Quebec region had the largest number of new admissions serving sentences for organized crime, over 80%. Interestingly, there were no cases admitted at that time with organized crime offences in our Pacific region.
It was observed that new admissions with criminal organization offences also received additional sentences for other offences, resulting in the majority of cases serving sentences of more than three years. So 80% of that group were serving sentences greater than three years in federal custody.
As a group, federal offenders with criminal organization offences were serving medium to long-term sentences for a new set or category of offences, coupled with other offences, mainly drug offences. Eighty percent of them were serving sentences for that as well, and in some instances, for other serious crimes, such as attempted murder and robbery. They presented with prior criminal records and strong attachments to family and criminal groups.
Particularly noteworthy, however, was the finding that offenders with criminal organization offences demonstrated more lifestyle stability. That means they were more likely to have been married, employed, and healthy than their correctional counterparts.
The second study was a follow-up of this group. Initially we wanted to profile the population that had been convicted of these offences. We then wanted to observe what happened to them while they served their sentences in federal custody. So the second study was entitled “Prison Careers of Federal Offenders with Criminal Organization Offences: A Follow-up”.
By October 2005, a total of 114, or roughly 50%, of the 220 cases who had met the initial criteria for selection in the study--using those Criminal Code descriptions of organized crime offences--had been released from prison. Therefore, we could capture the whole period of time they served while in federal custody. To construct a matched group for comparison purposes, we got 114 released offenders with those organized offences and then applied criteria to set another sample.
We used a sampling population that was created for federal offenders who had been released between 1997 and 2005 without organized crime offences or any gang affiliations. For each federal offender with an organized crime offence, a similarly situated federal offender without an organized crime offence was identified based on year of admission, sentence group, admitting region, gender, and aboriginal status. The average age for both groups was 33 years of age at that time.
Here are some highlights from the study. A follow-up of prison careers found that federal offenders with criminal organization offences were not significantly more likely than their matched correctional counterparts to be involved in security-related incidents, to be placed involuntarily or voluntarily in segregation, or to be transferred upward in security level. However, these observations may be an artifact of their being placed at relatively higher security levels than their matched counterparts. Therefore, there was more control of their movements.
Similarly, the finding that this group did not participate in programming to the same extent as their matched counterparts may be due to the fact that they do not present as broad a range or array of criminogenic factors. This is deemed to be consistent with their general lifestyle stability apart from organized crime affiliations.
As a group, those with organized crime offences were found to be statistically more likely to be released later than their matched group without organized crime offences. A closer examination of these released organized crime cases revealed that 55% had been granted a discretionary release versus 66% of the matched group.
Not surprisingly, a higher percentage of the organized crime cases had been released on statutory release than their matched group: 45% and 33% respectively. The added time served in custody might explain why a higher percentage of them had been granted escorted temporary absences, and they were significantly more likely to be granted an unescorted temporary absence simply because they had a longer length of stay. Again, the aforementioned may be due to longer periods of stay.
In conclusion, taken together, these two studies suggest a group of offenders who at time of admission are likely to present themselves as good risks from a traditional corrections perspective and whose prison experience would be remarkably uneventful.
The key issue is any interpretation of these findings has to be prefaced with a caveat concerning the limitations associated with available data on which waves of analysis were conducted.
As one might appreciate, the three years since the legislation had come into effect was recent at that time, so definitive statements were difficult to ascertain about the full impacts of the legislation that may be occurring in the long run. Nevertheless, there continues to be limited research on Canadian legislation that places people convicted for organized crime offences into prison. To date, there is only one study profiling the federal offenders convicted for organized crime offences. There is one other study that I'm aware of that follows the sample, and it was the one just referenced, of federally incarcerated offenders who were convicted of organized crime offences during their stay in federal custody. Finally, a longitudinal post-release follow-up is required before such a conclusion can be drawn about their correctional careers.
What is the research impact? CSC policy directives were modified and scoring options for offender classification tools were revised to take into account involvement in criminal organizations for which a conviction has been registered. More specifically for organized crime, ratings of street stability, which are found in many of the classification tools, were adjusted, and the conviction for a criminal organization offence was duly noted.
I would like to conclude by saying that Canadians have always been able to take pride in being international leaders in corrections research and rehabilitation. From the creation of scientifically derived assessment tools for security classification, program assignment, and release risk, to the development and delivery of state-of-the-art rehabilitative programs, Canadian researchers and correctional practitioners have always been at the vanguard of best practices. Canada's advantage is primarily due to the talents and efforts of researchers and practitioners themselves. Building on our correctional technology and research advantage is more important than ever.
I look forward to the discussions here today. It is important that the correctional perspective is represented at these kinds of meetings and that all components of the criminal justice continuum work together to achieve an effective and positive public safety outcome.