following its appearance before the Standing Committee
on Public Safety and National Security
March 10, 2020
Officials from the Parole Board of Canada (PBC or the Board) today appeared before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security (SECU) in relation to its study of the circumstances that led to the death of Marylène Levesque on January 22, 2020, by an offender on day parole.
Officials appearing on behalf of the PBC included its Chairperson, Jennifer Oades; Executive Vice-Chairperson, Sylvie Blanchet; and its Regional Director General, Quebec Office, Martin J. van Ginhoven.
The PBC welcomed today’s appearance as an important opportunity for its officials to explain the Board’s legislated mandate and the conditional release decision-making process to Committee members, and to answer their questions. It also allowed PBC officials to address some of the misinformation and misunderstanding around parole that this case has generated among Parliamentarians, the media, and the public.
The following key information was highlighted for Committee members:
The PBC is an independent administrative tribunal that makes conditional release decisions for federal offenders serving sentences of two years or more, and for provincial offenders serving sentences of less than two years in all provinces and territories except Ontario and Quebec, which have their own parole boards.
Under the law, all offenders are eligible for parole consideration at some point in their sentence, including those serving a life sentence.
Parole decisions involve a thorough risk-assessment by PBC Board members who must assess whether or not the offender will present an undue risk to society if released into the community, and whether the release will contribute to public safety through the reintegration of the offender.
The Board’s decision-making process is highly structured, and considers all relevant information from a wide range of sources.
Board members consider a wide range of information in assessing an offender's risk to re-offend. Information from the police, courts, Crown attorneys, mental health professionals, correctional authorities, private agencies, and victims of crime is used in assessing an offender's risk to re-offend and whether that risk can be safely managed in the community. Board members also refer to actuarial assessments and risk assessment tools in determining an offender’s risk to re-offend.
Parole is not automatic, and the paramount consideration in all PBC decisions is the protection of society.
Parole contributes to public safety through the gradual, managed and supervised release of offenders into the community. This provides the best protection for our communities, as opposed to releasing offenders into the community at the end of their sentence.
PBC officials also emphasized a number of important facts to Committee members in an effort to address and correct some of the misinformation this case has generated. In addressing this misinformation and these misunderstandings, PBC officials underscored the following for Committee members:
The Parole Board of Canada, as an administrative tribunal, is a decision-making body. It is not involved in offender case management or the supervision of offenders in the community. This is the responsibility of the Correctional Service of Canada.
Parole officers work for the Correctional Service of Canada, not the Parole Board of Canada.
The PBC did not, at any time, authorize any community supervision strategy, or impose any condition, giving this offender permission to solicit sexual services from women while on parole, as can be read in the Board’s September 2019 written decision.
Board members complete an intensive six-week Board member training session upon appointment, followed by ongoing regional training, mentoring, and coaching by experienced Board members and key personnel. No Board member is assigned any decision-making responsibilities until they have fully completed their training and have the confidence of their Regional Vice-Chairperson.
Violent reoffending incidents by offenders on parole are extremely rare:
99 per cent of offenders complete their day parole without committing a new offence.
99.9 per cent of offenders complete their day parole without a violent offence.
The success rate of offenders on parole has steadily increased from 70 per cent in 1990 to 98 per cent today.
PBC officials also indicated to Committee members that as much as the PBC strives for excellence in its conditional release decision-making, unfortunately predicting human behaviour is not – and likely will never be – an exact science.
In keeping with the serious nature of this incident and the loss of a young life, the CSC and PBC have convened a joint Board of Investigation into this case to look at the circumstances surrounding this incident.
Two co-chairs who are external to government are leading the Board of Investigation. Any recommendations from this BOI will be thoroughly examined by both CSC and PBC with respect to their respective mandates, and corrective measures implemented, as appropriate.
The PBC is committed to its public safety mandate and continues to strive to fulfill it, in accordance with the law, to the highest standards. Public safety remains our primary focus.
For more information:
PBC Media Relations
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