Rates of Recidivism

Rates of recidivism (re-conviction) in Ontario

Some provincial inmates and community supervision clients go on to re-offend after release.

Recidivism is defined in Ontario as a return to provincial correctional supervision on a new conviction within two years of completing:

  • probation, parole or conditional sentence or
  • a provincial jail sentence of six months or more.

The information below is for Ontario only and does not include those in the federal correctional system.

Adult Recidivism Rates, 2001 to 2014
Year 6+ month jail sentences Community supervision
2001/02 55.2% 21.2%
2002/03 49.6% 20.8%
2003/04 38.7% 20.8%
2004/05 41.8% 21.9%
2005/06 45.4% 22.7%
2006/07 40.5% 23.8%
2007/08 42.8% 24.0%
2008/09 44.7% 23.4%
2009/10 43.5% 24.5%
2010/11 43.6% 23.6%
2011/12 43.9% 22.3%
2012/13 42.9% 20.7%
2013/14 37.4% 21.4%

While the re-conviction rate has been fairly steady for incarcerated inmates over the past several years, for those serving community-based sentences, recidivism rates have decreased. This trend may be a result of evidence-based, targeted interventions.

What causes people to re-offend:

Certain factors are known to be associated with risk of re-offending. These include:

  • anti-social attitudes
  • anti-social peers
  • anti-social personality pattern
  • history of anti-social behavior
  • family/marital factors
  • education/employment factors
  • lack of pro-social leisure activities
  • substance abuse

A risk assessment that takes into account the above factors is completed for offenders under community supervision, and for those serving a provincial jail sentence of more than 90 days. A variety of rehabilitative services, programs and supports are offered based on each individual’s risk assessment. An offender’s assessed risk level does not predict the severity of the crime for which they may be reconvicted. Rather, it predicts the likelihood that they will re-offend.

The proportion of higher risk offenders in our population has an impact on our overall recidivism rates. The table below shows the large proportion of offenders assessed as being at high or very high risk to re-offend, along with their recidivism rates.

Adult releases by assessed risk level - 2013/14 (most recent year for which data is available)
Assessed Risk Level Institutional Releases from 6+ month sentences Community Releases
Number of releases Number and percentage re-convicted Number of releases Number and percentage re-convicted
Very low 65
(2.4%)
1
(1.5%)
4,671
(13.1%)
217
(4.6%)
Low 283
(10.2%)
12
(4.2%)
8,949
(25.2%)
901
(10.1%)
Medium 711
(25.7%)
119
(16.7%)
12,160
(34.2%)
2,518
(20.7%)
High 1,041
(37.7%)
449
(43.1%)
7,513
(21.1%)
2,919
(38.9%)
Very high 663
(24.0%)
448
(67.6%)
2,268
(6.4%)
1,301
(57.4%)