The Safe Streets and Communities Act (Bill C-10):
Changes for the Parole Board of Canada (PBC)
The Safe Streets and Communities Act (formerly Bill C-10) is a new law that brings together nine former bills. The Act consists of five parts. Part 3, which amended the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA), and the Criminal Records Act (CRA), introduces the following changes.
Changes to conditional release
The new Act amends release provisions in the CCRA. It also introduces, within the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, new mandatory minimum penalties, and limits the use of conditional sentencing.
The new Act:
- Emphasizes as a principle that Parole Board decisions should be consistent with the protection of society and be "limited to only what is necessary and proportionate to the purpose of conditional release," replacing the term "least restrictive determination consistent with the protection of society".
- States that the PBC consider "the nature and gravity of the offence" and "the degree of responsibility of the offender" in conditional release decisions.
- Permits the PBC to go forward with a decision even if offenders withdraw their application for parole within 14 calendar days of the review.
- Increases the waiting period for re-application for day or full parole after a negative Board decision from six months to a year.
- Permits offenders with a life sentence or with an indeterminate sentence, who previously were ineligible, to apply for parole by exception if they are terminally ill.
- Enables the imposition of residency during statutory release on offenders who present an undue risk to commit organized crime offences.
- Introduces automatic suspension of parole or statutory release when an offender receives an additional sentence.
Changes to detention criteria
The new Act expands the categories of offences subject to detention until the end of sentence. This would include, for example, those convicted of:
- child pornography
- luring a child
- aggravated assault of a peace officer
- breaking and entering to steal a firearm, or
- a terrorist offence under the Criminal Code of Canada.
The Act also adds grounds for detention referrals to the Board. Offenders who have committed a sexual offence against a child and with whom there are reasonable grounds to believe will commit another sexual offence against a child, or an offence causing death or serious harm, would now be subject to detention review.
Changes for victims of crime
The new Act formally recognizes the role of victims at PBC hearings. Amendments to the CCRA permit the Correctional Service of Canada and the Board to release additional categories of information to registered victims and enshrine in law the right of victims to present a statement at hearings. For more information on changes that affect victims, see the Fact Sheet: The Safe Streets and Communities Act (Bill C-10): Changes that Affect Victims of Crime.
Changes to pardons
The amended CRA replaces the term "pardon" with "record suspension." It makes individuals convicted of a sexual offence against a minor and individuals convicted of more than three indictable offences (each with a sentence of two years or more) ineligible for a record suspension. The new Act increased the waiting period for a record suspension to five years for all summary convictions, and to 10 years for all indictable offences. These amendments to the CRA came into force on March 13, 2012. The PBC website has more information on the Record Suspension and Clemency page.
The new Act makes "Parole Board of Canada" the Board's legal name.
For more information
To get more information about victims and the parole system, parole or record suspensions, visit: www.pbc-clcc.gc.ca