Adult Correctional Services (ACS)

Detailed information for 2007/2008





Record number:


The purpose of the Adult Correctional Services (ACS) survey is to provide important indicators as to the nature and characteristics of correctional case-flow 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.

Data release - July 21, 2009


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: 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. The survey uses two collection instruments: aggregate data are entered into a database; and automated extraction of micro-data from local information systems. Units of count are tabulated from the micro-data and included as part of the annual ACS survey process described above.

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 April 1st to March 31st

Collection period: June through December following the end of the 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 data for the ACS process come from respondent's local operational systems. Data are either submitted via information request questionnaires which are completed manually, or are extracted electronically via computer interface.

ACS Manual: 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.

ICSS: ACS data for respondents that participate in the Integrated Correctional Services Survey (ICSS), a new person-based survey that is currently being implemented in several jurisdictions across Canada, are tabulated from microdata that have been electronically extracted via computer interface. The microdata are extracted according to the survey's interface specifications which are based on a set of national data requirements. The rules pertaining to the ACS units of count are applied to the extracted microdata -- the output from which forms the input data to the ACS. Aggregate information on the financial and human resources continues to be collected on aggregate form with 100% paper format.


This survey is a census with a cross-sectional design and a longitudinal follow-up.

The ICSS is a census survey based on electronically-extracted microdata that is conducted annually. It is also longitudinal in that it follows correctional histories of offenders. Therefore, ACS has become a census with a cross-sectional design and a longitudinal follow-up.

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

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2007-10-30 to 2008-05-15

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents, extracted from administrative files and derived from other Statistics Canada surveys and/or other sources.

Administrative data are collected directly from the respondent local operational systems.
ACS -- Aggregate: Provincial headquarters answer a mail-out/mail-back data request questionnaire and, for some respondents, these data are entered directly into an Excel spreadsheet.

As of 2004/2005, the average counts of adults in custody (including those held in sentence custody and in remand), as well as those in the community (including probationers and those serving a conditional sentence) are obtained from the Adult Key Indicator Report Tables questionnaire. For additional information about the Corrections Key Indicator Report for Adults and Young Offenders (KIR, record number 3313), see the link below.

ICSS -- Microdata: Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Correctional Service of Canada data are collected through the Integrated Correctional Services Survey (ICSS), a new person-based survey that is currently being implemented in several jurisdictions across Canada. These microdata are collected through three distinct records organized by; (1) offender (e.g., socio-demographic characteristics such as age, sex, Aboriginal identity, etc.); (2) legal status such as sentenced custody, remand, probation and the characteristics of the status (e.g., aggregate sentence, conditions of supervision, etc.); and (3) events that occur while under supervision (e.g., escapes, temporary absence, releases, breaches of probation, etc.).

Once all aggregate data, including units of count derived from the ICSS microdata, have been entered, 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 for the Adult Correctional Services survey (aggregate component) 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.

The Integrated Correctional Services Survey (microdata component) central processing system contains an automated edit module that examines all incoming data for format, logic and consistency. Field values that do not meet specifications or are out of range are deemed to be 'not available' and are re-coded accordingly. Imputations such as donor imputation and estimation are not performed.


ACS -- Aggregate: 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.

ICSS -- Microdata: This survey does not impute data values through more formal methods such as estimation, historical or donor imputation.


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. Processed data, including ICSS data that have been tabulated into ACS units of count, are then returned to the respondents for verification as to accuracy.

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

ACS -- Aggregate: This survey collects aggregate census data as extracted and compiled by local respondents, including those that are generated from the ICSS microdata process. Formal data quality indicators, beyond annual respondent verification and review for accuracy and consistency, are not part of the survey methodology.

ICSS -- Microdata: The specification of standard survey outputs has not been completed and, as such, accuracy of ICSS data is assessed through the tabulation of ACS units of count, derived from ICSS microdata, and included in the general ACS verification process.


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