Parole: Contributing to Public Safety
You may also access this video on the Parole Board of Canada’s YouTube channel.
Transcript: Parole – Contributing to Public Safety
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Copyright / Canada Wordmark
PAROLE: CONTRIBUTING TO PUBLIC SAFETY
Ever wonder what the purpose of parole is or how it contributes to public safety?
In Canada, most offenders are serving a fixed-length prison sentence. This means they will eventually be released back into the community once their sentence ends.
Before this happens, most offenders will become eligible for and may receive parole.
Ever wonder what the purpose of parole is or how it contributes to public safety?
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TYPE OF CONDITIONAL RELEASE
CONTRIBUTES TO THE PROTECTION OF SOCIETY
SERVE PART OF THEIR SENTENCE IN THE COMMUNITY
UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF A CSC PAROLE OFFICER
SUBJECT TO CONDITIONS
DOES NOT REDUCE THE ORIGINAL SENTENCE IMPOSED BY THE COURT
NOT FREE TO DO AS THEY PLEASE
Parole is a carefully constructed bridge between incarceration and return to the community.
It is a type of conditional release, and contributes to the protection of society by allowing some offenders to serve part of their sentence in the community under the supervision of a Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) parole officer, and subject to conditions.
It does not reduce the original sentence imposed by the court, and offenders are not free to do as they please while on parole.
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PAROLE CONTRIBUTES TO PUBLIC SAFETY
GRADUALLY REINTEGRATE INTO THE COMMUNITY
ADOPT A LAW-ABIDING
CONTROLLED AND SUPPORTIVE ENVIRONMENT
Parole contributes to public safety by helping offenders gradually re-integrate into the community and adopt a law-abiding, pro-social lifestyle in a controlled and supportive environment before they are released from prison at the end of their sentence.
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PAROLE BOARD OF CANADA (PBC)
INDEPENDENT ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL
GRANTING, DENYING, REVOKING PAROLE
OFFENDERS SERVING TWO YEARS OR MORE
OFFENDERS SERVING SENTENCES OF LESS THAN TWO YEARS
EXCEPT ONTARIO, QUEBEC AND ALBERTA
The Parole Board of Canada (PBC), an independent administrative tribunal, is responsible for granting, denying, and revoking parole for offenders serving sentences of two years or more. The PBC also makes parole decisions for offenders serving sentences of less than two years in all provinces and territories except Ontario and Quebec, which have their own parole boards.
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PAROLE DECISIONS ARE MADE BY PBC BOARD MEMBERS
REFLECTING CANADA’S DIVERSITY
COME FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE
CRIMINOLOGY LAW POLICING SOCIAL WORK MEDICINE EDUCATION BUSINESS PRIVATE AND PUBLIC SECTOR MANAGEMENT
THOROUGHLY TRAINED IN RISK ASSESSMENT (DECISION MAKING)
IN-OFFICE FILE REVIEW
Parole decisions are made by PBC Board members, who, reflecting Canada’s diversity, come from all walks of life, in fields as diverse as criminology, law, policing, social work, medicine, education, business, and private and public sector management.
PBC Board members are thoroughly trained in risk assessment and decision-making. They make parole decisions through either an in-office file review or a face-to-face hearing with the offender and their parole officer.
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CONSIDER ALL RELEVANT AVAILABLE INFORMATION
RELATED TO THE OFFENDER’S RISK TO RE-OFFEND
WHETHER THAT RISK CAN BE SAFELY MANAGED IN THE COMMUNITY
WHETHER THE RELEASE WILL CONTRIBUTE TO THE PROTECTION OF SOCIETY
GENDER, ETHNIC, CULTURAL AND LINGUISTIC DIFFERENCE
WOMEN AND INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, AND OTHER GROUPS
When making parole decisions, PBC Board members consider:
- all relevant available information related to the offender’s risk to re-offend,
- whether that risk can be safely managed in the community, and
- whether the release of the offender will contribute to the protection of society by facilitating the offender’s return to the community as a law-abiding citizen.
The PBC’s policies also respect gender, ethnic, cultural and linguistic differences among offenders, the special needs of women and indigenous peoples, and other groups with special requirements.
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ALL RELEVANT AVAILABLE INFORMATION
INFORMATION COMES FROM A VARIETY OF SOURCES
MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS
SOCIAL AND CRIMINAL HISTORY
REASONS FOR AND TYPES OF OFFENCE
UNDERSTANDING OF THE OFFENCE
PROGRESS MADE OR PROGRAMS COMPLETED
BEHAVIOUR IN THE INSTITUTION OR ON PREVIOUS CONDITIONAL RELEASES
RISK ASSESSMENT TOOLS
OFFENDER’S RELEASE PLAN
PROTECTION OF SOCIETY IS ALWAYS THE PARAMOUNT CONSIDERATION
All relevant available information is provided to PBC Board members to consider in their decisions. Information comes from a variety of sources and can include information from the police, courts, Crown attorneys, victims, private agencies, mental health professionals, and correctional authorities.
When deciding on the conditional release of an offender, Board members assess this information and conduct a thorough assessment of each offender’s social and criminal history, the reasons for and types of offence; the offender’s understanding of the offence; any progress the offender has made or programs they have completed; their behaviour in the institution and while on previous conditional releases; actuarial assessments and risk assessment tools; the offender’s release plan; community supports; and any victim statements. All of this information is used to assess an offender’s risk to re-offend, and the protection of society is always the paramount consideration.
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FOUR TYPES OF CONDITIONAL RELEASE:
ESCORTED OR UNESCORTED
PARTICIPATE IN PROGRAMS
REPORT TO CSC PAROLE OFFICER
RESIDE AT A COMMUNITY FACILITY OR HALFWAY HOUSE
GRADUAL REINTEGRATION OF OFFENDER
REPORT REGULARLY TO A CSC PAROLE OFFICER
LIVE IN A PRIVATE RESIDENCE
ELIGIBLE ONCE THEY HAVE SERVED ONE THIRD OF THEIR SENTENCE
There are four types of conditional release: Temporary Absences, Day Parole, Full Parole and Statutory Release.
Temporary Absences are usually approved or authorized for community service, family contact (including parental responsibilities) or personal development, and can be either escorted or unescorted.
Day Parole allows offenders to participate in community-based activities, gain employment, and participate in programs to prepare them for full parole or statutory release.
Offenders on day parole must report to a CSC parole officer and reside at a community facility or halfway house.
Full parole allows offenders to serve part of their sentence under supervision in the community. It fosters the gradual reintegration of offenders back into the community. Offenders on full parole must also report regularly to a CSC parole officer, however they typically live in a private residence. Offenders are eligible to be considered for release on full parole once they have served one third of their sentence.
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OFFENDERS MUST FOLLOW STANDARD CONDITIONS (SPECIAL CONDITIONS)
MANAGE OFFENDER’S RISK IN THE COMMUNITY
ABSTAIN FROM THE USE OF ALCOHOL OR DRUGS
PAROLE CAN BE REVOKED
NOT A PBC DECISION
MANDATORY RELEASE BY LAW
AFTER TWO-THIRDS OF SENTENCE
PBC CAN ORDER AN OFFENDER DETAINED PAST RELEASE DATE ON CSC RECOMMENDATION
SUBJECT TO RELEASE CONDITIONS
All offenders released on parole must follow standard conditions, as well as any special conditions that the PBC feels are necessary to manage an offender’s risk in the community. An example would be to abstain from the use of alcohol or drugs. If an offender breaches any of their conditions, their parole can be revoked and they can be returned to prison.
Statutory release is not the same as parole, as it is not a PBC decision. It is a mandatory release by law after an offender has served two-thirds of their sentence. The PBC can however order that an offender be detained past their statutory release date on the recommendation of the Correctional Service of Canada. Offenders on statutory release are also subject to release conditions.
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RIGHT TO INFORMATION ABOUT THE OFFENDER
INFORMATION ABOUT THE OFFENCE AND ITS IMPACT ON THEM
REQUEST THAT CONDITIONS BE IMPOSED
ATTEND AND PRESENT A VICTIM STATEMENT
RECEIVE PAROLE DECISIONS
REQUEST AUDIO RECORDINGS
Under the law, victims have a role in the parole process.
Victims have a right to certain information about the offender who harmed them.
They can provide the PBC with information about the offence and its impact on them, and request that conditions be imposed on an offender’s parole. They can also attend and present a victim statement at parole hearings, receive parole decisions, and request audio recordings of parole hearings for which they did not attend.
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PROMOTE UNDERSTANDING OF PAROLE
OPENNESS AND ACCOUNTABILITY
APPLY TO OBSERVE
ALL DECISIONS AVAILABLE UPON WRITTEN REQUEST
To promote public understanding of parole, as well as openness and accountability in its operations, anyone can apply to observe a Parole Board of Canada hearing, and all of its decisions are available upon written request.
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GRADUAL, CONTROLLED AND SUPERVISED RELEASE
MOST EFFECTIVE WAY OF ENSURING PUBLIC SAFETY
96% OF OFFENDERS ON PAROLE HAVE NOT COMMITTED A NEW OFFENCE
99% HAVE NOT COMMITTED A NEW VIOLENT OFFENCE
Public Safety is always the primary consideration.
Evidence shows that the gradual, controlled and supervised release of offenders is the most effective way of ensuring public safety.
Over the past decade, 96% of offenders on parole have not committed a new offence, and 99% have not committed a new violent offence.
Public Safety is always the primary consideration in all parole decisions.
For more information, please visit Canada.ca/parole.
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