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What is parole and what types are there?

Usually when a person is handed a criminal sentence in Canada, the judge will also inform the convicted person about his or her parole eligibility.

Parole means that after the incarcerated person has served a certain amount of time in prison, they are allowed to serve the rest of their sentence in the community. Parole eligibility is dependent on safety risk as well as how long the offender is serving in prison. The Parole Board of Canada is the government agency that determines whether an offender is eligible for parole.

Is an offender always released on parole if they are eligible? The parole board reviews the offender for parole, but parole is not certain for any inmate. The Parole Board has discretion to whom they grant parole. The board reviews all available information about the offender in order to determine if the offender can be safely released into the community and won’t pose a threat to the public.

What types of parole are there?

         Temporary absence

Offenders, usually minimum security offenders, are eligible for this type of parole at any time in their sentence.

Those offenders who are maximum security offenders are not eligible for this program. Offenders who are serving three years or more are only eligible after serving one sixth of their sentence. Those serving sentences from between two to three years are only eligible six months into their sentence. For those serving less than two years, their eligibility is determined by provincial jurisdiction. Those who are serving life sentences are only eligible for this program three years before their full parole eligibility date.

This type of parole is granted in order for inmates to receive medical treatment, have contact with their family, for personal development or counseling reasons, etc.,

         Day parole

For day parole, offenders who are serving a sentence of three years or more are only eligible for day parole six months before their parole eligibility kicks in. Those sentenced less than two years are eligible for day parole after having served one sixth of their sentence. For those serving two to three years and life sentences, their eligibility is the same as it would be if they were to apply for temporary absence.

This type of parole is intended to help acclimatize the offender to full parole or statutory release as it allows the offender to take part in community-based events. However, offenders are required to return to an institution or halfway house at night.

         Full parole

After having served one third of their sentence, or 7 years (whichever is less), offenders may apply for full parole.

The only exception to that rule is for offenders who are serving life sentences for murder. For those serving life sentences for first degree murder are only eligible for full parole after 25 years. Those serving for second degree murder are eligible after between ten to 25 years.

Under this program, while allowed to serve the rest of the sentence in the community, the offender is regularly supervised by a parole officer. As well, the offender has to report any changes in circumstances to the officer and follow conditions given to him or her by the Parole Board.

Statutory release

This is not parole. Here, the decision whether to release an inmate on statutory release is made by Correctional Services Canada.

If inmates have not already been released on parole, federal law mandates that after people have served two thirds of their sentence, they are to be released from prison under supervision. This is called statutory release.

That doesn’t mean the offender’s sentence has ended though. Rather, conditions are imposed upon the offender, as well, the offender has to regularly report to his or her parole officer. Statutory release is allowed in order to allow the offender to re-integrate into society.

There is an exception to who is eligible for this program: those offenders who are serving life-sentences do not get a statutory release.

Read more:

Parole Board of Canada

Types of release