Springhill Institution

Springhill Institution is a medium-security facility located in the town of Springhill approximately 30 kilometres from Amherst, Nova Scotia. It opened in 1967 and is the largest "fenced" correctional facility with a rated capacity of about 450 inmates.

Road leading to Springhill Institution. On site parking available to visitors as well as handicapped parking.

Springhill Institution's main entrance. All visitors including victims and observers must report to the security desk.

Main entrance gate from inside Springhill penitentiary.

Upon entering, observers and victims are required to sign a visitor's log. Observers and victims will be greeted by a Parole Board of Canada (PBC) Regional Communication Officer, or a Correctional Service Canada (CSC) Victim Liaison Co-ordinator, who will escort them to the waiting room and the hearing room. Photo identification is necessary. A visitor's card is issued and must be worn and kept visible to institutional staff at all times during the visit.

Visitors must pass through a metal detector at which time a search of person or personal belongings may occur. Institutional security staff may ask you to place your personal belongings in a locker. Please note that cameras and recording devices are not permitted in a parole hearing.

This is building number #12 where parole hearings are held.

Here is an example of a waiting room. A pre-hearing briefing is done by a PBC Regional Communications Officer, or a CSC Victim Liaison Co-ordinator. The conditional release decision-making process will be explained to you and any questions you have will be addressed. Visitors are in the waiting room before the hearing, during the Board Members deliberation and after the hearing is over.

PBC parole hearing participants include: the Board Members, the CSC Parole Officer, the offender and his/her assistant. The assistant is someone of the offender's choosing, i.e. a family member or a lawyer. A security officer is located just outside the hearing room.

Observers and victims sit away from the boardroom table.

A victim may present a statement to the Board Members and may choose to read it or to present it on a videotape or an audiotape. The entire proceedings are tape-recorded.

The PBC Hearing Officer introduces the participants and makes sure the procedural safeguards are respected. Only then, Board Members resume to the parole hearing. Board Members start the hearing by asking the CSC Parole Officer to present the case and to make recommendations. Following this, Board Members interview the offender regarding his previous criminal and social history, institutional behaviour, and results of programming and release plans. The offender's assistant will speak after Board Members are finished with the offender's interview.

When Board Members have completed their interview with the offender, everyone must leave the room in order to allow Board Members time to deliberate. Observers return to the waiting room where they ask questions about what they have observed.

After Board Members have reached a decision, everyone returns to the hearing room. The Board Members will announce their decision to the offender and will provide reasons for that decision. The hearing is now over. The observers return to the waiting room where they may ask questions or clarifications regarding the decision.

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