Useful Information

Social reintegration

What is social reintegration?

Social reintegration is often defined by an absence of recidivism. There is also another more thorough definition, which entails that the individual can:

Live within the social standards and values;
Develop a sense of belonging within their community;
Suitably fulfill their own needs;
Live up to a certain well-being.

Moreover, the concept of reintegration implies that the individual once was integrated, which is not always the case. Many of them had, before their sentence, a dysfunctional lifestyle.

For a better understanding


  • To restore unity to a group.
  • To act towards the social reintegration of someone (handicapped, offender, drug abuser, etc.). 


  • To put an end to all doubts, critics, contempt, etc. that someone was facing to officially prove that they deserved or now deserve trust and respect.
  • To acknowledge the value and usefulness of someone or something after a period of forgetfulness or a lapse in credibility.
  • To treat a substance addict to allow social reintegration.

Source : Dictionnaire Larousse

  • The perspective of the Law

    The Act respecting the Québec correctional system’s objective is to create a unified vision for all stakeholders participating in the social reintegration of offenders, according to Public Safety Québec.

    As early as the first sentence of Chapter 1, it is said that “The correctional services of the Ministère de la Sécurité publique, the Commission québécoise des libérations conditionnelles and the community-based organizations which are their partners, as well as all society’s stakeholders having an interest in the correctional system shall facilitate the reintegration of offenders into the community.”

    Chapter 1 defines the paramount considerations of the Act by adding two other missions: the protection of society and compliance with court decisions.

    The Criminal Code was established in 1892 and contains the crimes that can become object to criminal proceedings in Canada. In Article 718, the Criminal Code defines the purpose and principles of sentencing as follows: “The fundamental purpose of sentencing is to protect society and to contribute, along with crime prevention initiatives, to respect for the law and the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by imposing just sanctions that have one or more of the following objectives:

    (a) to denounce unlawful conduct and the harm done to victims or to the community that is caused by unlawful conduct;

    (b) to deter the offender and other persons from committing offences;

    (c) to separate offenders from society, where necessary;

    (d) to assist in rehabilitating offenders;

    (e) to provide reparations for harm done to victims or to the community; and

    (f) to promote a sense of responsibility in offenders, and acknowledgment of the harm done to victims or to the community.”

    To facilitate social reintegration of offenders therefore is one of the objectives of sentencing according to the Criminal Code.

  • The road to social reintegration

    Equal employment opportunities is a crucial element in the social reintegration process. It implies that there is a willingness from both the individual and the community to achieve reintegration.

    Being employed:

    • Entails an important time investment on a daily basis;
    • Develops positive self-esteem;
    • Consolidates a social network;
    • Represents a source of revenue, which is essential to living in society;
    • Contributes to the growth of said society.

    It is clear that being employed contributes to satisfying the needs of individuals, as represented by the Maslow pyramid. Psychologist Abraham Maslow established in the 1940s a hierarchical classification of human needs. According to him, these needs create motivation. Once the fundamental needs are satisfied, the individual develops secondary needs. However, employment opportunities are denied to those with criminal records for lack of training and strong discrimination from employers. 

    To facilitate social reintegration, different programs were put in place by Correctional Service Canada (CSC). These programs include sociocultural, recreational and sports activities, along with work (paid or not) and training sessions. There are also programs for the family of offenders, the victims, and also for the specific needs of substance abusers, women offenders, First Nations, or anger management. CORCAN is a program that provides offenders with employment and employability skills training while incarcerated in federal penitentiaries, and for brief periods of time, after they are released into the community. This initiative improves employment opportunities and puts the individual in real-life situations in a work environment.

    Social reintegration does not stop at the release of an individual, a sense of belonging to a community must gradually be instilled. There are organizations and programs that can facilitate this transition.

    The Parole Board of Canada (PBC) demonstrates that release on parole is effective: “From April 1994 to March 2016, 70% of the 14,792 offenders who were granted full parole successfully completed their sentence. In a little over 17% of cases, the release on parole was revoked because the offender did not comply with the imposed conditions and, in 13% of cases, because they committed another crime. During the same period, the Board granted day parole to 2,236 individuals. Close to 82% of offenders successfully completed their parole. It was revoked due to non-compliance of conditions in less than 13% of cases and a new infraction was committed in 5.8% of cases.”

    In 2012–2013, according to the PBC, the release rate on day parole on the federal level was 68% and the full parole rate on the federal level was 29%. During the same period of time, the completion rate of releases on parole on a federal level for day parole was 89.3%, 85.2% for full parole, and 60.6% for statutory release.

    Halfway houses are organizations acting as a pied-a-terre within a community for individuals with a criminal record going through the process of social integration or reintegration. They are part of a gradual release process and allow individuals to fulfill their basic needs (shelter, food, etc.) so they can continue their social reintegration through job search and personal development. These houses provide different programs depending on the resource, such as drug abuse, sexual offences, anger management, etc.

    The Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) are formed of four to seven volunteers who are committed to support individuals who have committed serious sexual offences to reintegrate society after a sentence. According to the CSC, The CoSA’s mission is “to substantially reduce the risk of future sexual victimization of community members by assisting and supporting released individuals in integrating with the community and leading a responsible, productive, and accountable life.”

    The 2008 R-185 Research Report Circles of Support & Accountability: A National Replication of Outcome Findings mentions that “the offenders who participated in CoSA had significantly lower rates of any type of reoffending than did the matched comparison offenders who did not participate in CoSA. Specifically, offenders who participated in CoSA had an 83% reduction in sexual recidivism in contrast to the matched comparison group (2.1% vs. 12.8%), a 73% reduction in all types of violent recidivism (including sexual—8.5% vs. 31.9%), and an overall reduction of 72% in all types of recidivism (including violent and sexual—10.6% vs. 38.3%).”

    According to the 2007 doctoral thesis of J. Bigras Prediction of recidivism among sex offenders, the recidivism rate for sexual offences committed on a child (intra and extra familial) is 2.8%, on a teenager (13 to 16 years old) is 6.2% and on an adult is 5.2%. Finally, for mixed sexual offences (adult and minor victims), the recidivism rate is 7.8%. In the case of offences committed on children, the wide majority (89%) of sex offenders knew their victim. This number goes down to 74% for offences committed on adults.

  • Recidivism Rate

    The recidivism rate is defined as “the percentage of released offenders readmitted to federal custody during a particular period of study”, according to the CSC. It is extremely difficult to provide an overall recidivism rate, as many questions need to be asked: Do we round up the different rates in an average number? Do we treat every type of recidivism the same way? What is the reference period?

    Two examples are given in Volume 5 of FORUM (on Corrections Research), a publication by the CSC on recidivism. “For example, a fraud offender who was told to abstain from alcohol and drugs while on release decides to celebrate the new-found freedom by getting drunk at a party. The police are called by angry neighbours and find out that the offender is on parole. Is this recidivism?”

    “Let’s focus on the most serious technical violations. Consider the case of a sex offender whose conditional release conditions stipulate that he or she stay away from school yards where he or she was known to scout for potential victims. If we find out that this sex offender is in fact loitering in school yards, is this recidivism? It is serious, but is it recidivism?”

    Social reintegration programs and other tools aiming to help individuals with criminal records, such as release on parole, have an influence on recidivism. According to the Groupe de défense des droits des détenus de Québec, “offenders who have undergone basic training in prison have a readmission rate 7.1% lower than those who have had access to no education. The institutional employment programs after release lower the readmission rate by 27.8%. The decrease is 14% for drug abuse treatment, 11% for personal/emotional orientation, between 69% and 86% for anger management programs, whether we are talking about non-violent recidivism or violent recidivism, and, finally, 58.9% for sexual offender treatment.”

    It should also be mentioned that in 2012–2013:

    • 1.5% of day parole granted on the federal level ended due to a non-violent infraction and 0.1% of them were terminated following violent recidivism;
    • 3.3% of full parole granted on the federal level ended due to a non-violent infraction and 0.3% of them were terminated following violent recidivism. This represents a decrease of 2.1% and 0.2% in comparison to 2011–2012;
    • 7.1% of statutory releases ended due to a non-violent infraction and 1.5% of them were terminated following violent recidivism. This represents a decrease of 2.4% and 1% in comparison to 2008–2009;
    • Finally, since 1970, over 460,000 Canadians were granted a pardon or a criminal record suspension. 96% of them still hold to this day, which shows that a majority of those who were granted a pardon or a criminal record suspension remains citizens respectful of the laws within the collectivity.

    The ASRSQ still believes that social reintegration is the best way to protect the community on a long-term basis.

  • Social and community reintegration

    The ASRSQ developed a specific notion called social and community (re)integration, which is a broader concept than social reintegration. The social and community (re)integration of an individual is “an individualized, multifaceted and long-term adaptation process that is only completed once the person participates in all aspects of life within society and their community, and has developed a sense of belonging among them”.

    It is therefore an adaptation process in a specific environment, which is different for every individual. This process is divided in three dimensions: the organizational dimension (shelter, food, clothing, etc.), the occupational dimension (training, work, volunteering, etc.) and the relational dimension (family, peers, community involvement, etc.).

    The concept of social and community (re)integration is broader because it does not solely aim to reintegrate an individual in a given social environment, but wants to create a stronger interdependence between them and the other members of the collectivity.

    Moreover, it touches upon both the social and community spheres. They may sound synonymous, but they address two different realities. The “social” relationship is “cold”, as it includes the fields of business, the State, justice, science and public opinion. The “community” relationship is “warm” and includes relationships with family members, neighbours, colleagues, ethnic groups, political parties, etc. In fact, this relationship includes everything bringing people together on commonalities: “blood ties”, “geographical community”, “community of interests”, “community of identity”, “community of mind”.