The Canadian Parole System

A twenty year old woman bared her third child in three years. She lived in sub-standard housing conditions and was involved in a marriage that was not much better. One day two of her toddlers began to quarrel. The mother was unable to stop the fight and in a fit of rage, shook her nine-month year old daughter to death as she began to cry. She appeared before the Canadian Justice System, was convicted, and received a five year prison sentence. After serving seventeen months of her five year term she became eligible for parole and was subsequently released on full parole in the confidence that she would never re-offend.

Was this decision appropriate or was it a bold injustice to all Canadians? The Canadian Parole Board believed it was. The Board feels that qualifying offenders should be given the opportunity to once again become law-abiding members of society. Does this system really work or does it place society at an undue risk? The Canadian Parole Board serves to rehabilitate and reform convicted offenders and subsequently integrate them back into society. The parole system can be analyzed by its process, procedures, purpose, effectiveness, violent criminals who are on it, and repeat offenders who receive it.

The National Parole Board (N. B. P) is the governing body of the parole process in Canada. It is in conjunction with the criminal justice system and under the authority of the Correctional Services Canada (CSC). (Birnie, p. 19) The CSC consists of officers that gather information and supervisors that are in charge of federal parolees whom are released into the public. If an offender receives a sentence of less than two years he/she will be placed in a provincial institution. Provinces like, Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia, have their own provincial parole boards to deal with these type of offenders.

The difference between these types of provincial parole boards is that their inmates are personally interviewed by the provincial board. In the general provincial institutions, where cases are interviewed by the national parole board, the inmates are subject to a decision on paper with no face to face board contact. (Birnie, p. 19) The National Parole Board is responsible for two variations of parole: day parole and full parole. Day parole consists of a release in which the offender must return nightly to a halfway house or correctional institution.

This process prepares an offender for the responsibilities of full parole. Full parole is also a release that is granted by the board which enables the offender to serve the remaining time on their sentence within the community under strict supervision. (Internet 1). A release that does not require the approval of the National Parole Board is known as statutory release. This release can only take place when an offender with a definite sentence has completed two thirds of their sentence and therefore must be released. However, individuals who are classified as "dangerous offenders" will never receive this right.

If an offender receives statutory release they must remain under constant and strict supervision and may be sent back to prison if they violate any terms stated in their release. Conversely, those who are serving a life sentence or are subject to an indeterminate sentence may never qualify for parole. (Internet 1) The purpose of parole is an important aspect in preserving the prominence of the parole system in Canada. There are two major purposes that the parole system aims to meet when considering to grant an offender parole. The first purpose is to make certain that an offender carries out a sentence in a safe and natural manner.

The second purpose is to rehabilitate the offender back into society as a law-abiding citizen through programs provided within the institutions or the surrounding community. (Devillers, p. 5) The board basically wishes to protect the public by supervising and rehabilitating offenders before or during their release back into society. When trying to provide rehabilitation along with satisfying the public the parole board faces a problem. The board must take the release timing and conditions of the offender highly into consideration when trying to please the public.

The parole board grants offenders a second chance at life as law obeying and free citizens. The parole system is needed and depended upon in order to strengthen the community by reforming and gradually letting offenders back into the community. In accordance to National Parole Board policy, if an offender has derived the maximum benefit from their sentence, can prove themselves as a harmless individual to society, and show that granting them parole would in some way improve their rehabilitation, then in these cases there is a significant purpose for parole. Many tend to question the actual effectiveness of the parole system.

Most that tend to be skeptical of this system are in a sense brought on from fear of immigrating dangerous offenders back into their communities. However this is not the actual truth to the matter. It is not an easy task to receive parole and once granted parole the offender is not initially granted total freedom. An offender must meet three main factors in order to be eligible for parole. These factors are: 1) they have derived the maximum benefit from their sentence; 2) receiving parole would enhance their reform and rehabilitation; 3) their release would not create a danger or risk to the community. (Birnie, p.

22) After an offender receives parole they must then follow certain and specific conditions. The first of these conditions is to remain under the authority of a representative of the N. P. B until the remainder of their sentence is complete. The second condition is report immediately to the supervisor and to go directly to the area designated upon release. The third condition is not to leave the assigned area without consent from the parole board representative or the supervisor. The fourth condition is to maintain a good and steady employment record and report to the supervisor of any changes or illness.

The fifth condition would be to receive approval from a representative of the NPB before purchasing a car, borrowing money, getting married, or possessing and firearms or weapons. The sixth condition is to report immediately to a supervisor if arrested. The seventh and last condition that an offender has to follow when granted parole is that they must obey the law at all times. (Birnie, p23) All these conditions are framed to make the parole system effective and controlled. Supervisors keep track of their offenders as well as being sure that they are benefiting from the parole system and are not posing a threat to society.