Parole Board of Canada

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The Parole Board of Canada (formerly known as the National Parole Board) is a Canadian government agency that operates under the auspices of Public Safety Canada.

The National Parole Board was created in 1959 under the Parole Act. The Board primarily deals with the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, Criminal Records Act and the Criminal Code of Canada.

It is an independent administrative tribunal that has the exclusive authority under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to grant, deny, cancel, terminate or revoke day parole and full parole. In addition, the Board is also responsible for making decisions to grant, deny and revoke pardons under the Criminal Records Act and the Criminal Code of Canada.

The head of the NPB is a Chairperson who reports to Parliament through the Minister of Public Safety. As an independent agency, the Minister does not direct the operations of the NPB.

The annual budget of the NPB is $43 million and the headquarters are located in Ottawa, Ontario with other offices in Moncton, New Brunswick, Montreal, Quebec, Kingston, Ontario, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Abbotsford, British Columbia and Edmonton, Alberta.

Under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, which governs federal corrections, provinces and territories may establish their own parole boards for offenders sentenced to a term of incarceration of less than two years. Only two provinces now have their own parole boards: Ontario and Quebec.

In Canada, it is not a criminal offence to breach parole. Although warrants are put out for parole absconders, they are often not found until they are arrested for another crime.[6]

Parole in Canada[edit]

Parole is an option available to all offenders since Canada does not have a life sentence without parole option. The offender will have to spend a prescribed amount of time in custody, depending on the offence. For the vast majority of offences, that period is one third of the total sentence imposed.[7] Parole is not automatic. The parole board must consider, first and foremost, the protection of the public. Secondary considerations are reintegration, rehabiliation and compassion.[8] Eligibility for parole is between 10 and 25 years for murder and 7 years for other life sentences or indeterminate sentences.

Criticism and controversy[edit]

The National Parole Board has been criticized for its perceived lack of judgment in the handling of certain cases. Notable examples include:

  • Conrad Brossard was serving two life sentences for a murder as well as two attempted murders, each of which was committed after being granted day parole. In 2002, the parole board granted Brossard day parole again, during which he raped and murdered Cecile Clement. An internal review of the Brossard case prepared by the National Parole Board and the Correctional Service of Canada stated that "the board does not have any criticism to make with respect to the general management of Brossard's correctional plan." Pierre Etoile, Clement's son-in-law, criticized the parole board, stating that "They tell us in this report that everything is wonderful, no one did anything wrong. Except my family is still grieving." Marc LaPierre, one of Brossard's previous victims, also criticized the parole board,[1]
  • Larry Takahashi received three concurrent life sentences in 1984 for sexually assaulting seven women (he was subsequently dubbed the Balaclava Rapist). In 1997, he admitted to attacking over 30 women and is suspected by police in 120 attacks. In 2003, Larry Takahashi was granted parole despite his own admission that he was at risk to re-offend. Randy White, a MP from the then Canadian Alliance, strongly criticized the parole board for releasing Takahashi, stating that "Is there something I don’t understand about protection of the public?" It was also noted that Takahashi's victims will not be told where he will live during his parole because of federal privacy laws.[1] In 2005, it was reported that Takahashi had repeatedly violated his parole by drinking, lying to his parole officer, and socializing with other sex offenders.[2] His parole was subsequently revoked.[3]
  • Eric Norman Fish was released to a half-way house in 2004 in Vernon, British Columbia. Fish had been serving a life sentence for a 1984 murder and had been deemed by the Parole Board to be a "high-risk to violently re-offend." Fish walked away from the half-way house and over a period of six weeks murdered two people; Jeffrey Drake, whose body was found on the shore of Okanagan Lake, and Bill Abramenko, a 75-year-old retired carpenter, who Fish beat to death with a crowbar. Public outrage led to the closing of the halfway house where Fish stayed, However, Abramenko's wife, Gladys stated that "The problem doesn't start with the Howard House. It starts with the National Parole Board. I think there should be a grand public inquiry — nothing hushed up." At a subsequent news conference, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police admitted that during the six weeks Fish was at large, no alert was issued by police or the parole board. Fish's arrest ignited a national debate on the role of the National Parole Board.[4]
  • Allan Craig MacDonald was paroled in late-1989 after serving 12 years for murdering a police officer and a taxi driver. In April 1990, MacDonald beat, raped, stabbed, and murdered 21-year-old Linda Shaw and set her body on fire. (Although MacDonald was not convicted for this crime (he committed suicide in 1994), his guilt was confirmed by a DNA test in 2005).[9][10] [5][6][7][8]
  • Robert Bruce Moyes was granted day parole in 1995. He was serving a life sentence for multiple armed robberies and had a total of 36 criminal convictions, including three attempted murders and three escapes from prison. Moyes also had numerous previous parole violations. Within a year of being paroled, Moyes and an accomplice murdered seven people [11][12] A subsequent investigation by the Parole Board concluded that there was a "sound basis" for his conditional release from prison and that "it is unnecessary to offer any specific direction on change or amendment to policies, practices or procedures." However, the investigation did not examine how Moyes was able to fool the parole board into releasing him despite his numerous criminal convictions. When testifying in court, Moyes "happily admitted that he lied repeatedly to parole and corrections officials for the past 30 years." Moyes will be eligible for parole again in 2027 when he is 72.[13]
  • John Lyman Kehoe was paroled in 1986. He had been sentenced to life in prison for murdering his two children in 1972. In 1996, Kehoe and another paroled multiple murderer attacked real estate agent Wendy Carroll. Carroll was choked and had her throat slit, although she did survive. Kehoe was subsequently deemed a Dangerous Offender and is unlikely to ever be released from prison again.[14][15]
  • Leopold Dion was paroled in 1963. He had been sentenced to life in prison for rape and attempted murder and previously violating parole by sexually assaulting a young boy. Within 18 months of being released, Dion molested 21 children and murdered four of them. Dion was subsequently killed in prison.[16]
  • Michael Hector received full parole after serving half of a 13-year sentence. He had an extensive criminal history, had previously violated parole and had been described in psychological assessments as "a highly criminalized man." In early 1997, approximately 18 months after his release, Hector murdered three people, including a young boy.[17]
  • Kevin Humphrey was granted paroled. He had been sentenced to life for robbing and murdering a man in 1983 before fleeing the country. Despite three previous parole violations, Humphrey was paroled again in 2006. In October of that year, Humphrey stabbed Richard Kent multiple times with a folding knife and then slit his throat in a crack house. Although Kent survived, he still has brain injury symptoms and memory problems.[18]
  • Denis Lortie was granted full parole in 1996 after serving 12 years in prison for murdering three people and injuring 13 others. The decision went against the wishes of the victims relatives, although as of 2010, Lortie has not reoffended.[19][20]
  • Chad Bucknell was granted day parole in 2002, six years after he received a life sentence for murdering four people. Bucknell subsequently disappeared until he was recaptured in 2004. Bucknell was granted parole again in 2006 and had so far not been re-arrested.[21]
  • Daniel Jonathan Courchene, a known gang member, was kept on parole even though the Board knew that Courchene was repeatedly violating his parole by using intoxicants. While on parole, Courchene and an accomplice attempted to kill a police officer by shooting him in the face, stole several vehicles, and committed a home invasion in which they attempted to kill the owner.[22] [23]

The NPB defends its record, noting that between 1995 and 2000, more than 70% of 11,466 offenders released on full parole completed their sentence successfully while about 16% had their parole revoked for breach of conditions and 12.5% had their parole revoked as a result of committing a new offense.

In addition, the NPB noted that in the same five-year period, over 16,000 prisoners were released for day parole and that of these, nearly 83% were completed successfully, 12% had their parole revoked for breaches of conditions, and only 5.7% were revoked for committing new offenses.[24]

Although Correctional Service of Canada insist incidents like those above are rare, a report by the Canadian Police Association revealed that between 1998 and 2003, 66 people have been killed by convicts out on early release. [25]

In 2003, it was reported that the whereabouts of over 800 federal offenders and over 1100 provincial offenders on parole and escapees in Canada are unknown.[26]

In early 2011 a convicted Quebec fraudster, Vincent Lacroix was released after serving 18 months of his 13 year sentence for stealing over $100 million. Sections 125 and 126 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act allow a narrow set of non-violent offenders access to parole after serving one sixth of their sentence. As a response to extensive media coverage and public outcry, the Conservative Party of Canada, at the urging of the Bloc Québécois tabled Bill C-59, a law which end early parole for non-violent offenders.[9]

Lawsuits[edit]

Some lawsuits have been filed against the NPB alleging mistakes. Examples include:

  • RCMP Const. Mike Templeton filed a lawsuit after he was shot in the face by Daniel Jonathan Courchene, a known gang member who had been kept on parole despite NPB having been aware that he had repeatedly violated his parole conditions.[10]
  • Gladys Abramenko filed a lawsuit after she was assaulted and her husband was murdered by Eric Fish, who had been granted conditional release to a halfway house despite serving a life sentence for murder and had been diagnosed with "criminal and anti-social propensities".[11] She reached an out-of-court settlement with several national law enforcement agencies in her civil suit, seeking unspecified financial damages from Fish, the RCMP, Corrections Canada, the National Parole Board and the John Howard Society. Details of the settlement "could not be revealed".[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Family wonders how killer got multiple paroles, CTV.ca News Staff, Dec. 21 2003
  2. ^ 'Balaclava Rapist' broke parole conditions, CTV.ca News Staff, January 18, 2008
  3. ^ Balaclava Rapist back in custody, by Tom Bricker, News 1130, August 24, 2008.
  4. ^ Man who fled Vernon halfway house charged in 2nd slaying, CBC News, February 28, 2007.
  5. ^ Popular cop, cabbie first victims by Jane Sims, London Free Press, August 13, 2005.
  6. ^ Tightening the noose - Ottawa’s refusal to help a Canadian on death row in U.S. rekindles capital punishment debate, Lorrie Goldstein, Licia Corbella, Canoe News (Canada), November 26, 2007.
  7. ^ Books clues to mind of Shaw's killer by Randy Richmond, London Free Press, August 16, 2005.
  8. ^ Getting Away With Murder, CTV W-Five investigation, February 11, 2006.
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ [2][dead link]
  11. ^ [3][4]
  12. ^ [5]

External links[edit]