5 Things to know about Parole Board of Canada hearings for non-English speakers
- Kate Mitchell
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The Parole Board of Canada offers certain accommodations for prisoners who do not speak English.
- The Parole Board of Canada can hold hearings in English or French. Prisoners should ensure that their Parole Officer is aware of their preference well in advance of their hearing and check off the appropriate box on their parole application.
- Prisoners who do not have an adequate understanding of French or English are entitled to an interpreter. The interpreter’s role is to interpret questions and answers between the prisoner and Board Member(s), help the prisoner understand documents disclosed to the prisoner, as well as to communicate the Board’s decision to the prisoner.
- There are limits on who can be an interpreter for Board hearings. Interpreters are neutral third-parties who are not involved in the decision-making. Preferably, a certified interpreter should be found. Interested parties like spouses, family members, friends, assistants, or other prisoners are not to be used.
- If an interpreter is requested but is unable to attend, then the prisoner can request a postponement. However, the Board Member(s) at the hearing have discretion over whether to accept the postponement or proceed with the hearing. That said, the Board Member(s) must be satisfied that the prisoner can understand the proceedings.
- Prisoners can have an assistant and an interpreter. The role of an interpreter is different than the role of an assistant. A prisoner can have an interpreter (who is a neutral third-party) as well as an assistant (whose role is advocate on the prisoner’s behalf).