PBO estimate the minimum sentence to cost $98 million each year

The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) today released his analysis of the Federal Cost of Minimum Sentences. This report focuses on the minimum sentence for “Possession of a prohibited or restricted firearm with ammunition”.

Minimum sentences require judges to impose a minimum penalty on persons convicted of a specific crime. Minimum sentences can result in judges issuing longer sentences. The issuance of longer sentences results in more inmates in federal custody over time which, in turn, increases the costs incurred by the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC).

Persons convicted of possession of a prohibited or restricted firearm with ammunition in each year continue to be sentenced to a total of 1,162 more years in federal custody than they were before the minimum sentence was increased. According to Yves Giroux, PBO, “the total cost associated with the additional 684 persons in custody and 467 persons on parole as a result of this minimum sentence is estimated to be $98 million each year.

It is unclear, what effect, if any, the repeal of a minimum sentence would have on the severity of sentencing. The total duration of sentences was not discernably affected by the minimum being declared unconstitutional in 2015.