Contrary to common belief, offenders who have been charged with first degree murder or individuals who are serving a life sentence may become eligible for parole if they meet the all the specific prerequisites. However, being eligible for parole does not mean the individual or offender will necessarily be granted parole. Those who have been convicted of murder and have received a life sentence may be released on full or day parole, only after a careful and critical review of the case by the National Parole Board. When an individual has been convicted of first-degree murder they may receive what is called a "life minimum" sentence.
This means that the offender will be eligible for a parole review after serving twenty-five years imprisonment. Individuals who have been convicted of second-degree murder may also receive a "life minimum" sentence; however in their case they are eligible to receive a parole review within ten to twenty-five years of their conviction. "Statistics show that in seventy-five percent of second-degree "life-minimum" sentences, judges set the parole eligibility date at ten years, while in the other twenty-five percent of cases they set it somewhere between twelve and twenty years. " (Bernie, p.173)
Offenders who have been convicted of manslaughter may receive a "life maximum sentence". This sentence is not intended for murder cases and therefore fits within manslaughter because it is not an intended murder. Offenders who receive this sentence may become eligible for parole after serving a seven year sentence. The question that arises from this system is; should violent criminals such as murderers who have received a life sentence still have the chance to attain parole? The parole board's philosophy is that offenders should be given a second chance to follow and obey the laws.
However, the board only holds this philosophy true if the offender meets certain criteria and follows specific rules. The National Parole Board believes that murderers should be entitled to the same opportunities of parole as other offenders, nevertheless few will actually ever be granted parole. Historically, national statistics have shown that the number of offenders that have received parole is drastically higher than the number of parolees that re-offend. (Internet 1) However, there are select cases where offenders who appear to be rehabilitated, receive parole and subsequently are arrested and charged with breaking the law again.
The following case is one where such an occurrence took place. Joseph Fredericks was a known pedophile in the Southern Ontario region. Fredericks was charged in 1981 for the abduction and sexual assault of a young boy in the surrounding area that he lived in. Fredericks was found guilty, and served three years of his sentence before he was eligible for parole. Fredericks received counseling for his obsession with young while he was incarcerated and entered numerous treatment programs which he seemed to benefit from.
When Fredericks faced the review board he was deemed to be a good candidate for parole as they thought he had received the maximum benefit from his incarceration. Fredericks was ordered to follow strict conditions that the board had placed on him and was then granted full parole. He then applied to coach youth baseball and while on parole he abducted one of the young boys on his team, sexually assaulted him and finally strangled him to death. Fredericks was then incarcerated a second time and was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole, as a dangerous offender title was earmarked on him.
Although the Canadian parole system may contain its minor faults, it is undeniably an important factor in the rehabilitation and integration of offenders back into Canadian communities. Some offenders will always re-offend; no system is perfect. While questions may arise about the effectiveness of parole the statistics show it to be a successful venture. Success is measured by the benefits society derives from a program and the parole board supplies these benefits to a great extent.
The Canadian Nation Parole Board has proven to be an effective way of dealing with offenders who derive no benefit from further incarceration. It has shown to help offenders change their ways and choose to lead productive lives with the rest of the community; these are the true fruits of the boards labour. In short, the Canadian National Parole Board is effective in dealing with offenders and helps integrate them safely back into society. Who are we to decide what rehabilitation constitutes? Should not all individuals be entitled to a second chance at life?