Victims have the right to information about the timing of the offender's conditional release and the conditions of that release.
The Parole Board of Canada decides whether to grant, deny or revoke parole for an offender. Parole allows offenders to serve part of their sentence in the community under strict conditions and supervision. If the conditions of parole are not met the offender can be sent back to prison. Parole is not the same as statutory release. By law, most offenders, except those serving life or indeterminate sentences, must be released into the community after serving two-thirds of their sentence.
By law, most offenders serving time in a federal prison are also eligible to apply for full parole after serving one-third of their sentence or seven years, whichever is less. Different rules apply for offenders serving indeterminate sentences or life sentences for murder.
It is important to remember that Parole is different from statutory release. Parole is a discretionary type of conditional release whereby Board members assess offenders' risk to the community. However, under statutory release most federal inmates are entitled to serve the last one-third of their sentence out of prison if full parole has not already been granted.
When making decisions about parole, the Parole Board of Canada considers the risk that the offender may present to the community, as well as if and how that risk can be managed in the community. Keeping the community safe is the overriding concern of the Board when making a decision about releasing an offender.
The Board will consider information from the victim. Information about the crime from the victim's perspective can help the Board assess whether the offender understands the harm done and whether the person is likely to commit another crime. Victims may also have information that is relevant to an offender's release plans. For example, the Board might order the offender not to contact a victim or not to be around children.
The law requires the Board to disclose to the offender any information provided by a victim that will be considered when deciding about their release. The victim's personal information, such as their address and phone number, is not disclosed. Although victims can provide information at any time, if you want the information to be considered at the parole hearing or you want to read a statement you must give it in writing 30 days before the hearing. This gives the Board time to disclose the information to the offender, as required by law.
The statement should provide information about the continuing impact of the crime. This could include any physical, emotional, medical or financial consequences. The statement should also include any concerns that a victim has for their own or others' safety if the offender is released and why the victim has these concerns.
Requests can be made to the Parole Board of Canada for copies of the Board decisions.
Sometimes victims want to attend the parole hearing and read their statement. If you want to attend a hearing you should apply in writing as early as possible, preferably at least 30 days before the hearing. You can also apply for financial assistance to cover travel, hotel and meal expenses, for you and your support person. This application should be made at least 30 days before the hearing date. Applications for financial assistance are made to the Department of Justice Victims Fund.