An independent decision making body created by law that makes decisions free from outside influence which affect an individual's rights and liberties.
An offender may appeal any negative decision regarding conditional release that is made by the PBC, as well as any grant that is more restrictive than what was requested. The appeal must be sent to the PBC Appeal Division in Ottawa within 60 days of the date of the decision being appealed. The Appeal Division ensures that the law and the Board policies are respected, and that the rules of fundamental justice are adhered to and that the Board's decisions are based upon relevant and reliable information. The Appeal Division reviews the decision-making process to confirm that it was fair and that the procedural safeguards were respected. The Appeal Division has jurisdiction to re-assess the issue of risk to re-offend and to substitute its discretion for that of the original decision makers, but only where it finds that the decision was unfounded and unsupported by the information available at the time the decision was made.
Board of Investigation (BOI):
A BOI is a review that may be conducted by the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) and/or the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) when an offender on conditional release is charged with a serious violent offence in the community. This process is automatic when the offence involves a death. Investigations are conducted to determine the facts of the incident and analyze all issues related to the release and supervision of the offender. It is not a criminal investigation.
An act of mercy which may be granted by Cabinet or the Governor General. It is only considered in very exceptional circumstances for deserving individuals who suffer excessive hardship as a result of a court imposed penalty, and where no other remedy exists under the law.
Corrections and Conditional Release Act and Regulations (CCRA/CCRR):
A prescriptive legislative framework proclaimed in 1992 which guides PBC policies, training, operations and parole decision-making. It provides the legal framework for the correctional and parole system in Canada.
Correctional Service of Canada (CSC):
CSC is responsible for administering court-imposed sentences for offenders sentenced to two years or more. This includes both the custodial and community supervision components of an offender's sentence. CSC also administers post-sentence supervision of offenders with Long Term Supervision Orders (LTSOs) for periods of up to ten years. CSC has a presence from coast to coast from large urban centres. CSC manages institutions, treatment centres, Aboriginal healing lodges, community correctional centres and parole offices.
Criminal Code (CC):
In 1892, the Canadian Parliament passed a law called the Criminal Code. It was called a Code because it consolidated crimes and criminal law procedure into a single statute. A Criminal Code is a compilation of government laws that outline a nation's laws regarding criminal offenses, and the maximum and minimum punishments that courts can impose upon offenders when such crimes are committed.
Criminal Records Act (CRA):
The Act was created in 1970 to ease, through the granting of a pardon, the stigma of a criminal record for those offenders who demonstrate over an appropriate number of years that they can lead crime free lives. A pardon is a formal attempt to remove the stigma for people found guilty of a federal offence who, having satisfied the sentence imposed and a specified waiting period have shown themselves to be law-abiding citizens.
Part XXIV of the Criminal Code sets out an exceptional procedure to have an offender declared to be a dangerous offender and sentenced to an indeterminate sentence. For offenders sentenced after August 1, 1997, this determination is subject to a parole review after the dangerous offender has served seven years of custody and every two years thereafter. Under the Criminal Code, this sentence is available only for certain offences (serious personal injury offences) and only where it has been shown by evidence, that the offender constitutes a continuing danger to other persons "through failure in the future to restrain his (or her) behaviour." The PBC decides whether, and under what conditions, the offender will ever be released.
A form of conditional release that allows the offender to participate in community-based activities. It is granted at the discretion of the PBC for a period of up to six months to prepare the inmate for full parole or statutory release. The offender is supervised by CSC and must return nightly to a penitentiary or a halfway house.
A decision by the PBC ordering an offender to remain in custody until the end of sentence rather than being released on statutory release at the two-thirds point of a determinate sentence. An offender may be detained only if the case has been referred by CSC and if the PBC is satisfied that the offender is likely to commit an offence causing serious harm, or death, prior to the expiry of the sentence.
A sentence of fixed length imposed by the court. A determinate sentence has an expiry date at which time the offender is completely free.
The date when an offender is entitled to be considered for some form of conditional release, such as temporary absence, work release, day parole, full parole and statutory release.
Escorted Temporary Absence (ETA):
The duration of an ETA varies from an unlimited period for medical reasons to not more than 15 days for any other specified reason. Wardens have the sole authority to authorize ETAs. In certain instances involving offenders serving life sentences, PBC approval is required before the ETA can be implemented. During these absences, an offender is escorted by a CSC staff member or a trained citizen escort. (Eligibility is set at any time during the sentence).
A form of conditional release granted at the discretion of the PBC that allows an offender to live in the community, subject to conditions and supervised by CSC, and to demonstrate that the individual can be a law-abiding member of society.
A hearing is a face-to-face meeting between Board members and the offender. Its purpose is to help Board members assess the risk that the offender may present to the community should he/she be granted conditional release. A hearing usually takes place in the institution where the offender is incarcerated. At a hearing, Board members review the case with the offender, the parole officer and the offender's assistant. In most cases, Board members give the decision and the reasons for the decision at the hearing.
A life sentence for offences that may not otherwise carry a minimum sentence of life. By law, offenders designated by the court as "Dangerous Offenders" receive automatic indeterminate sentences. Although offenders serving an indeterminate sentence may not spend their entire lives in prison (i.e. they may eventually be paroled), they will remain under sentence, subject to control and supervision by CSC, for the rest of their lives. Parole eligibility in these cases is set, by law, at seven years.
A provision in the Criminal Code that allows an offender, who was convicted of murder and has spent at least 15 years of a life sentence in custody, to apply to the court to seek a reduction of the eligibility period before being considered for parole.
Offenders serving life sentences remain under sentence until the day they die. Although "lifers" may not spend their entire lives in custody (i.e. they may eventually be paroled), they remain subject to control and supervision by CSC for the rest of their lives. A first-degree murder conviction carries an automatic 25-year parole eligibility. For second-degree murder, the Court may set the parole eligibility anywhere between 10 and 15 years.
Long-Term Supervision Order (LTSO):
The LTSO provision is aimed specifically at high-risk violent sex offenders. The court may order persons found to be a "long-term offender" to be supervised in the community by CSC for a period not exceeding ten years following the warrant expiry date. The long-term supervision order is subject to conditions fixed by the PBC.
Individuals, on written application, may attend PBC hearings as observers. The general public (18 years of age and over), victims and their families and supporters, offenders' family members and supporters and media representatives may attend parole hearings.
A formal recognition that a person, who was convicted of a criminal offence and has completed a sentence, has demonstrated law-abiding behavior in the community over a period of time.
Probation (provincial authority):
A sentence imposed by a judge, either as an alternative to incarceration or following a sentence in an institution. It allows a person to live in the community subject to specific conditions and to the supervision of a probation officer under provincial authority.
Registry of decisions:
PBC is required by law to maintain a registry of decisions and allow public access to these decisions. Any person who demonstrates an interest in a case may, on written application to the PBC office in their region, be granted access to the content of the registry relating to a specific case. People may also apply for access to the registry for research purposes.
A decision made by the PBC to terminate an offender's release because of a violation of a condition or a conviction for a new offence resulting in the offender's return to custody.
Special conditions (applies to all types of release):
In addition to the conditions of release provided for by law, the PBC may impose additional conditions (e.g.: abstinence from all intoxicants) as considered appropriate to further reduce the risk and to prevent the offender from returning to criminal activity.
By law, most offenders who are serving determinate sentences, and who have not been granted parole or had their parole revoked, must be released on statutory release automatically after having served two-thirds of their sentence. Statutory release does not require a decision by the PBC. (See Detention). The Board may, however, impose special conditions.
UTAs can be authorized for an unlimited period for medical reasons, and up to a maximum of 60 days for specific personal development programs. Typically, UTAs last two to three days per month to allow the offender to visit family. The Board, the Commissioner of CSC and Wardens have authority to grant UTAs in specified circumstances, usually based on the type of offence. (Eligibility is set at 1/6 or 6 months into the sentence, whichever is greater).
Unlawfully at Large (UAL):
An offender who escapes from, or fails to return to, the penitentiary or prison or halfway house.
The Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA) defines a victim as someone to whom harm was done or who suffered physical or emotional damage as the result of a crime. The law considers that relatives or legal guardians are victims when the victim is deceased, or is a child, or is unable to act for his/herself due to illness or injury.
Warrant Expiry Date (WED):
The date the sentence imposed by the courts officially ends.
Work Release (CSC authority only):
A release program allowing an inmate to work for a specified period in the community on a paid or voluntary basis while under supervision. The institutional head has authority to grant a work release up to a maximum period of 60 days that can be extended with the approval of the CSC Commissioner. (Eligibility is set at 1/6 or 6 months into the sentence, whichever is greater.)