Area of Law: Criminal Law
Answer Number: 763
What is parole?Region: Ontario Answer Number: 763
Parole, also called conditional release, allows a person convicted of an offence to be released from jail early and to serve the rest of his or her sentence out of prison. Decisions regarding parole are made by the Parole Board of Canada under the rules of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.
Parole is discretionary. This means that the Parole Board decides whether to grant parole. The Parole Board will evaluate the risk an offender poses to the community before they are released.
Offenders granted parole are given an opportunity to re-integrate into society under the supervision of a parole officer. Offenders may complete their sentence out of prison as long as they meet the conditions of their parole. Conditions are almost always attached to all types of early release. Standard conditions include obeying the law, not owning or possessing a weapon, and reporting any change in their domestic or financial situation. Also, all offenders on parole must report to a parole officer.
The Parole Board may also impose special conditions in appropriate circumstances, such as requiring the offender to abstain from using drugs and alcohol, go to counselling, or stay away from certain people or places. In most cases, if the offender breaches the conditions of release, their parole will be terminated and they will have to return to prison.
Types of early release
There are four circumstances under which prisoners may be released before the end of their sentence.
1. Temporary absences
Temporary absences are the most restrictive type of release and are not considered parole. A prisoner may be allowed out on a temporary basis for a specified number of hours per month. While the prisoner is out on a temporary absence they might be either escorted or unescorted, meaning that a police officer may have to accompany them.
The number of hours inmates are allowed out each month depends on the kind of prison the person is held in. If the person is in a maximum or medium security prison, they are permitted up-to 48 hours out each month. If the person is in a minimum security prison, they are allowed up-to 72 unsupervised hours out each month.
There are numerous reasons why an offender may be allowed out on a temporary basis, such as to see their family, participate in rehabilitation programs, perform community service, and attend medical appointments.
2. Full parole
There are two different types of parole: full parole and day parole. Full parole provides a person with the most freedom. Under supervision, full parole allows prisoners to return home indefinitely and serve the remainder of their sentence in the community. They must report to a parole officer on a regular basis and advise on any changes in employment or personal circumstances.
3. Day parole
Day parole allows prisoners to leave the prison during the daytime hours only. They must return to the prison, or go to a supervised half-way house each night. While away from prison, an offender is allowed to work and participate in community-based activities in preparation for full parole or statutory release.
4. Statutory release
In contrast to parole, and except for offenders serving a life or indeterminate sentence, statutory release is an automatic right given to the prisoner. Under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, after serving two-thirds of the sentence, a prisoner is allowed out of prison on statutory release. Depending on the case, conditions may or may not be imposed on statutory release.
If you have been charged with a criminal offence, or, for help with an application for parole or temporary absence, you should consult a lawyer.
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