Adult Correctional Services (ACS)

Detailed information for 2000/2001





Record number:


The purpose of this survey is to provide important indicators as to the nature and case characteristics of adults in correctional services and are of use to justice agencies, the media and the public.

Data release - October 30, 2002


The Adult Correctional Services (ACS) survey provides important indicators as to the nature and characteristics of correctional caseflow that are of use to agencies responsible for the delivery of these services, the media and the public. The survey collects annual data on the delivery of adult correctional services from both the provincial/territorial and federal correctional systems. Key themes include: the average daily counts of adults in custodial facilities, including remand, as well as monthly counts of probationers; and new admissions (commencements) to correctional programs of sentenced custody, probation, conditional sentences and other community-based programs. The survey also captures information on conditional releases to the community including parole and statutory release. In addition, the survey collects aggregate information on the financial and human resources involved in the delivery of adult correctional services.

Statistical activity

The survey is currently administered as part of the National Justice Statistics Initiative (NJSI). Since 1981, the federal, provincial and territorial Deputy Ministers responsible for the administration of justice in Canada, with the Chief Statistician, have been working together in an enterprise known as the NJSI. The mandate of the NJSI is to provide information to the justice community as well as the public on criminal and civil justice in Canada. Although this responsibility is shared among federal, provincial and territorial departments, the lead responsibility for the development of Canada's statistical system remains with Statistics Canada.

Reference period: Fiscal year


  • Correctional services
  • Crime and justice

Data sources and methodology

Target population

This survey describes the services provided by governmental agencies responsible for adult correctional services in each of the provincial, territorial and federal sectors. More specifically, the data examine caseload characteristics as well as resources and expenditures relating to adult custodial and community supervision services. Six primary responsibilities fall under the umbrella of adult correctional services in Canada: 1) custodial remands; (2) custodial sentences; (3) conditional sentences; (4) probation; (5) conditional release; and (6) parole.

Instrument design

The ACS questionnaire was developed with the assistance of representatives from the federal, provincial and territorial agencies responsible for the delivery of adult correctional services in Canada. The questions are based on a set of information requirements that were also developed through consultation with these representatives.

The questionnaire is sent directly to the respondents who complete the instrument locally. Computer-aided data collection techniques are not used other than local programming used to extract administrative data from information systems.


This survey is a census with a cross-sectional design.

Data are collected for all units of the target population, therefore, no sampling is done.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2001-06-01 to 2001-12-31

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents and extracted from administrative files.

Provincial headquarters answer a mail-out/mail-back standard questionnaire. Two additional questions are completed in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia because of their responsibility for provincial parolees. Once the survey is returned, a telephone follow-up is made to verify and finalize the data reported. When all jurisdictions have been processed, a preliminary (review copy) set of data tables/footnotes is sent to each respondent for finalization.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s).

Error detection

Data are reviewed by survey staff on their receipt to identify missing or partial responses. The incoming cell counts are compared to the same cells from earlier years to check for outliers and general consistency. Automated error procedures are not applied to the results of this aggregate survey, partly due to the small number of respondents. However, issues that arise are reported to the local data suppliers to assess whether there is a problem and the actions to be taken.


Formal imputation is not performed on this survey. Missing data or obvious error situations are resolved in consultation with the local data suppliers. From time to time, local suppliers will provide estimates (occasionally with the assistance of survey staff) in situations where only partial annual data are available.


The financial data provided to the survey are adjusted for inflation using constant dollars pursuant to accepted Statistics Canada approaches. The per capita data are calculated using Census of Population data.

Quality evaluation

The incoming data are assessed for completeness, historical inconsistency, the existence of outliers and reasonability.

The variation in delivery of correctional services across the jurisdictions hinders, to some extent, precise cross-jurisdictional comparisons as the data elements captured are continually being refined to reflect local and legislative variations. The key measures presented although not perfectly precise, are still sufficient to monitor correctional trends, to stimulate policy analysis, and to evaluate legislative changes in a general way.

Factors impacting on cross-jurisdictional comparability are both definitional and systemic in nature. Definitional inconsistencies, which are in part a reflection of administrative differences, are outlined in table footnotes. Major administrative differences are: division in responsibility, administration of youth and adult services, and differing types of information systems. Information systems and the data elements used in these systems are generally established to serve local needs. Therefore comparable national data are not always achieved by aggregating data from local operational systems, even though labels used to describe the data are the same.

The products from this survey are subject to both institutional and peer (respondents, heads of correctional services, etc.) review.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any data which would divulge information obtained under the Statistics Act that relates to any identifiable person, business or organization without the prior knowledge or the consent in writing of that person, business or organization. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

Preliminary results are not released or available to the public. Information pertaining to personal characteristics are presented as percentages and not released as 'units of count' in order to maintain confidentiality.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

This methodology does not apply to this survey.

Data accuracy

This survey collects aggregate census data as extracted and compiled by local respondents. Formal data quality indicators, beyond annual respondent verification and review for accuracy and consistency, are not part of the survey methodology.


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