Fact Sheet - Attending a Hearing in a Federal Institution
Parole Board of Canada (PBC) hearings may take place in person, usually in the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) institution where the offender is held, or remotely by videoconference or teleconference.
Anyone can request to observe a PBC hearing by submitting a formal request to the PBC as far in advance of the date of the hearing as possible (ideally at least 30 days before the hearing). Requests submitted within the 30 days of the hearing may be denied if there is insufficient time to process the request. In some cases, hearings may be scheduled, rescheduled or cancelled on short notice.
If you are a victim of crime, additional services are available to you. For example, you have the right to certain information about the person who harmed you, and to be notified when a hearing is scheduled. You may also present a victim statement at the hearing, if you wish. To access services, you need to apply to register as a victim with the PBC or CSC.
The Parole Board of Canada: Victims and the Parole Process video provides victims of crime with information about their rights, how to participate in the conditional release process and services available to them.
Arriving at the institution
All individuals attending hearings within a CSC institution will be subject to CSC's established health and safety protocols. Please visit the CSC website for additional information.
If you are attending a hearing in person, plan to arrive at the institution about 30 minutes before the hearing will begin.
If you are a victim, a PBC Regional Communications Officer (RCO) will contact you a few days before the hearing to set a time to meet you at the main entrance of the institution. The RCO will go over the details of what to expect at the hearing, and answer any questions you may have. If you arrive at the institution before the RCO, a CSC staff member will let you know where to wait.
Security at the institution
You will need to show photo identification, such as a driver's licence.
All vehicles on institution property are subject to search at any time, at the discretion of CSC staff. All visitors/observers must submit to a security check with a metal detector and potentially additional searches such as a drug ION scanner or detector dog search. Personal belongings are also subject to a search. Items such as cellular phones, money, tobacco products, portable computers, audio/video recording equipment and cameras are not permitted inside the institution. If you are unable to lock these items in the trunk of your vehicle, you will be asked to lock them in a locker at the entrance to the institution. You may also be requested to place items such as purses or briefcases in a locker and you may be asked to remove your jewelry upon entering the institution, in order to have an item swabbed for the drug ION scanner or in order not to interfere with the metal detector.
Once the security check is finished, you will get a visitor identification card, which must be worn and visible at all times. If you are a victim, the RCO will help you with the security sign-in.
Someone will be with you at all times while you are in the institution. If you are a victim, you will be escorted by the RCO; although a CSC staff member may escort you for short periods.
After passing through security, you will be taken to a separate area near the room where the hearing will take place. In many cases, an office or a boardroom is used as a waiting room and institution staff may come and go while you are waiting for the hearing to start.
Waiting and hearing rooms are often located in a secure part of the institution and you may pass through one or more automated security gates or doors on the way.
If you are a victim, the RCO will go over the procedures for the hearing with you. Other observers may wait in the same area.
When the hearing is about to begin, you will be led into the hearing room. Victims and other observers are always the last to enter the hearing room. Other participants, including the offender, will already be seated.
If you are a victim, you will sit with the RCO and other observers apart from the offender and other hearing participants. A CSC security officer may be present at hearings attended by victims.
Hearings may take several hours. Be prepared to be at the institution for much of the day. At the hearing, the Board members will ask the offender questions and hear from the CSC Parole officer and the offender’s assistant, if one is present. Victims may present a victim statement.
Indigenous offenders or offenders who have a shown a meaningful commitment to an Indigenous way of life may request an Elder-Assisted Hearing.
The Parole Board of Canada decision
At the end of the hearing, you will return to the waiting area while the Board members consider their decision.
When the Board members have finished their deliberations, you will be led back to the hearing room so you can hear the Board members state their decision and their reasons.
Afterward, if you are a victim, the RCO will take you back to the waiting area where you can ask questions about the decision.
Whether you are a victim or a member of the public, you can ask for a copy of the Parole Board’s written decision and reasons through the Decision Registry. You can request a decision, even if you did not attend the hearing.
Leaving the institution
After the hearing, you will be led back to the security desk to sign out and get anything you left with security. If you are a victim, let the RCO know if you need help getting to your vehicle or while you wait for someone to pick you up.
Other useful information:
What to wear
Dress conservatively. Comfortable, business-casual clothing is recommended.
Not all institutions are easily accessible by wheelchair. Please advise the RCO beforehand if you or anyone coming with you to observe the hearing has any difficulties with physical mobility. If you are hearing impaired or have other accommodation needs, please also advise the RCO.
Certain medications or medical equipment may not be permitted in the institution. If you need to take any medication or use any medical devices during the time you expect to be at the institution, let the RCO know ahead of time so proper arrangements can be made.
If you need to use the washroom while attending the hearing, you will be led to one you may use.
Smoking is not permitted anywhere on CSC institution property and visitors may not bring tobacco into the institution.
Meals and refreshments
Food and beverage services for purchase by visitors at CSC institutions are limited or not available at all. If you will have to eat while you are at the institution, you may have to bring your own food. It is best to discuss your needs with the RCO beforehand.
If you are a victim, you may apply to the Department of Justice Canada for funding to help pay travel and accommodation costs for you and a support person. You may also be eligible for funding for childcare or dependent care while you are travelling to and attending a hearing.
Correctional Service of Canada Institutions
For profiles of individual CSC institutions, please visit the CSC’s Institutional Profiles website.
For a virtual tour of a penitentiary, visit CSC’s Beyond the fence: A virtual tour of a Canadian penitentiary.
- Date modified: