"Factors Related to the Sentencing..."
Factors Related to the Sentencing of Drug Importers and Policy Implications
October 11, 2007, Pittsburgh, PA
Research & Statistics Division, Department of Justice Canada
Background – Canadian Criminal Justice System
All criminal law (youth and adult) is the responsibility of the Federal government
These laws are applied across Canada (provinces/territories)
Provinces/Territories are responsible for administration of justice – except for drug offences
Almost all drug offences are prosecuted by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions
Sentence length dictates federal or provincial institution
Criminal Code (Anti-Terrorism Act, Firearms Act)
Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Youth Criminal Justice Act
Drug Offences in Canada
CDSA contains offences for possession, trafficking, importation, exportation and production.
Drugs are classified by schedules.
No mandatory minimum sentences for any drug offences, this may change.
No codified escalating penalties for specific drug types or quantities.
Judges have the discretion to impose the sentence deemed appropriate.
List of aggravating factors to aid judges in sentencing
Drug Offending in Canada and Ontario
Most drug cases were for trafficking (52%) or possession (43%)
Overall conviction rate for drug offences was 40%, most received probation (40%) or prison (26%)
1% of all drug cases were for importing, conviction rate was 42%
69% of importers received a prison sentence
49% of all drug cases are found in Ontario
Two-thirds (63%) of cases were for possession, 31% were for trafficking
Overall conviction rate – 51%; stay rate – 46%
Most (36%) received fines (36%) or custody (28%), 22% received probation
While only 2% of all drug cases in Ontario were for importing, they represented 91% of all importation cases in Canada.
The conviction rate was 44% and 70% received a prison sentence
SOURCE: Adult Criminal Court Survey, 1998-2003
Importation Study - Method
Random sample - adult cases sent to Public Prosecutions Services Canada (PPSC) for prosecution in Ontario between April 1, 1998 and March 31, 2003
Total population (individuals) N = 401
Total population (cases) N= 321
Total sample n = 130
All cases were importation through airports (airports represent about a third of all importation charges in Ontario)
Case data came from the files of PPSC
Recidivism data came from a database maintained by the RCMP (CPIC)
Where multiple offenders in a case, one was randomly selected
Who are Importers?
58% male; 42% female
Mean age: 31.3 years
Women were significantly younger than men (p.<.05)
Ethnicity: 68% visible minority
64% were single
63% had at least one child (mean was 2 children)
38% were unemployment; 31% were employed full-time
38% had a previous criminal conviction
Men were significantly more likely to have a previous conviction (p.<.05)
Offence Characteristics & Sentence Predictors
Importations through airports
Most common drug: cocaine
Conviction rate: 85%
Custody = 68% (mean = 2.7 years)
Conditional sentence = 23%
5% were associated with organized crime
Type and quantity of drug were predictors of sentence length (r
Gender, ethnicity and previous criminal convictions were not predictive of sentence length.
Average length of follow-up was 3.9 years (median = 4.1 years)
Overall recidivism rate = 18%
Recidivism offence type:
21% violent (includes sex offences)
32% administration of justice
53% all other types
Factors related to recidivism:
Previous violent conviction (r=.28, p<.01)
Previous administration of justice conviction (r=.20, p<.05)
Previous other conviction (r=.21, p<.05)
National Anti-Drug Strategy
Government of Canada released their strategy to combat drug offending on October 5, 2007
Pledged $64 million over 2 years
Three Pillar Approach:
Prevention ($10 million)
Treatment ($32 million)
Enforcement ($22 million)
Focus for enforcement:
Mandatory minimum sentences for serious drug offending, including trafficking, production and importing.
Will likely target repeat offenders.
Public awareness campaign aimed at parents and youth
Crime diversification across Canada
The role of women and visible minorities with regards to importing
The role of organized crime
Senior Research Officer
Research & Statistics Division
Department of Justice Canada
Tel: 613. 957-7093