Photographs of Federal Penitentiaries

Bowden Institution

Road leading to Bowden Institution.






Bowden Institution is a medium-security facility with a minimum-security Annex half way between the communities of Innisfail and Bowden in the province of Alberta. Originally, the institution opened as a provincial facility, but was acquired by Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) in 1974. Currently, Bowden Institution operates Living Units, a Reception Unit, Dissociation/Segregation beds and the Health Care Unit. The minimum-security Annex accommodates inmates in eight separate residences. Bowden Institution incarcerates about 500 inmates. Parking is on the right side of the board.

Main entrance of Bowden Institution. Upon entering, observers and victims are required to sign a visitor's log. Photo identification is necessary. A visitor's card is issued and must be worn and kept visible to institutional staff at all times during the visit. This is the first building you see when entering the parking. Observers and victims will be greeted by a Parole Board of Canada (PBC) Regional Communications Officer, or by a Correctional Service Canada (CSC) Victims Liaison Co-ordinator, who will escort them to the waiting room and hearing room.

Visitors must pass through a metal detector where a search of person or personal belongings may occur at that time. Institutional security staff may ask you to place your personal belongings In a locker. Please note that cameras and recording devices are not permitted at the parole hearings.



Entrance of the Bowden's main administration building where parole hearings take place.



Bowden Institution annex building where hearings take place for minimum-security inmates.




Corridor leading to hearing rooms at the main administration building where parole hearings take place.








This is the waiting room area. A pre-hearing briefing is done by a PBC Regional Communications Officer or by a CSC Victim's Liaison Co-ordinator. The conditional release decision-making process will be explained and any questions answered. Visitors sit in the waiting room before the hearing, during the Board Members deliberation, as well as after the hearing is over. Observers have access to designated washrooms.

PBC parole hearing participants include the Board Members, the CSC Parole Officer; and, the offender and his assistant. The assistant is someone of the offender's choosing, i.e. a family member or a lawyer. A security officer may be present during hearings. The entire proceedings are tape-recorded.

The PBC Hearing Officer introduces the participants and is responsible for ensuring procedural safeguards are respected. Only then, can Board Members begin to the parole hearing. Board Members start the hearing by asking the CSC Parole Officer to present the case and to make recommendations. Following this, Board Members interview the offender regarding his previous criminal and social history, institutional behaviour, and results of programming and release plans. The offender's assistant will speak after Board Members are finished with the offender's interview.

A victim may present a statement to the Board Members and may choose to read it or to present it on a videotape or audiotape. Observers and the victims are seated at the back of the room. A security officer is present for all hearings observed by victims. When Board Members have completed their interview with the offender, everyone must leave the room in order to allow the Board Members time to deliberate.

Observers return to the waiting room and may ask questions about what they have observed.




When Board Members have made their decision, everyone is asked to return to the hearing room. The Board Members will announce their decision to the offender and will provide reasons for that decision. The hearing is now over. The observers return to the waiting room where they may ask questions or get clarification in regards to the decision.