Canadian judicial system

Determining Release on Recognizance or Custody

Determining whether an offender should be released on a recognizance of bail or kept in custody while awaiting trial in court is one of the most difficult parts of the Canadian legal system. In particular, a person is presumed harmless until proven guilty. However, it has always been difficult for both the police engaged in the investigation and the requirement to uphold an offender's constitutional rights to release a suspect simply because he has not yet been found guilty. Kirk Makin (2012) argues that this accelerating trend of putting offenders in custody has seen a large number of Canadians being put behind bars as they await to know whether they will be found guilty or innocent of the charges placed on them. Seemingly, 70% of these people in prisons have not received a ruling on their cases yet. Makin (2012) notes that the greatest fear of a judge is to release and offender only to go ahead and commit more crime. However, considering the large number then it is worthy to release the offender on bail rather than waste their productive lives awaiting trial.

Improving Bail Provision

Furthermore, Aileen Donnelly (2017) argues that more than half the number of people held behind bars are simply awaiting hearing of their cases and have not been convicted yet. As a matter of fact, this is an indication that the justice should have more provision for offenders to be released on bail as they await trial to try and reduce the numbers.

Special Cases for Release on Bail

More so, there should be special cases where an offender can be released on bail as opposed to being held behind bars. Firstly, if the case involves a minor offense which the person would have been released on fine. Notably, Rolando Del Carmen (2010) specifies that any offense who maximum penalty is six months should be considered a petty offense. Secondly, if it involves a Canadian youth. In fact, the Canadian Department of Justice provides provision for the same. Specifically, the youth will be held in custody only if it as a serious offense that would have earned an adult up to five years, and if a court has justified the detention (Department of Justice, n.d.).

Repercussions of Holding Offenders in Custody

More so, not all offenders should be held behind bars. In fact, Lindsay Porter and Donna Calverley (2011) argue that the rising number of Canadians held in custody awaiting trial can have numerous repercussions to the efficiency of the correctional facilities. For instance, the issue of costs would make it difficult for the system to run proficiently.


Del Carmen, R. (2010). Criminal procedure. Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Department of Justice. Pre-trial detention - youth justice. Department of Justice. Retrieved from

Donnelly, A. (2017). More than half of Canadian adults in jail awaiting trial rather than serving sentences in 2014 and 2015: Statistics Canada. National Post. Retrieved from

Makin, K. (2012). A case for bail reform. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from

Porter, L., & Calverley, D. (2011). Trends in the use of remand in Canada. Statistics Canada. Retrieved 23 March 2017, from

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