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5 Things to know about CSC’s information sharing obligations

  • Correctional Service Canada is required to provide to certain parties all information under its control that is relevant to release decision-making or the supervision/surveillance of prisoners. This includes the Parole Board of Canada, as well as provincial governments, provincial parole boards, police, and any other bodies that are authorized by the Service with supervising prisoners.
  • The Service may be required to give police certain information. Prior to a prisoner being released (on parole, statutory release, or an unescorted temporary absence), the Service will notify all police forces that have jurisdiction at the destination the prisoner is released to, if the destination is known. Moreover, if the Service has reasonable grounds to believe a prisoner about to be released due to the expiration of their sentence will, on release, pose a threat to someone, the Service must take all reasonable steps to provide police (prior to the prisoner’s release and in a timely manner) all information under its control that is relevant to the perceived threat.
  • If a prisoner has the right to make representations regarding a decision to be made by the Service, the Service is required to provide all information to be considered in making that information (or a summary) and to do so a reasonable period before the decision is made. Prisoners have the right to make representations in a number of situations, including in response to a proposed involuntary transfer, when institutionally charged, etc. There are some exceptions to the information sharing requirement though, specifically information can be withheld if it would pose a risk to the safety of a person or security of an institution, or if it would interfere with a lawful investigation.
  • Prisoners are entitled to be given all information to be considered by the Parole Board of Canada (or a summary) at least 15 days before a parole hearing. Generally, the prisoner’s parole officer will provide this information to the prisoner, and the prisoner may be asked to sign a form confirming they have received the information. The information is to be provided in the prisoner’s preferred official language. If information is not provided 15 days or more before the hearing, the prisoner can either waive the right to be given 15 days’ notice or request a postponement. The Board may also adjourn a hearing if the information is received so late that it cannot prepare for the review. The Board can withhold information if it should not be disclosed based on public interest, it would jeopardize the safety of a person or the security of an investigation, or it would interfere with a lawful investigation.
  • The Service is not supposed to disclose personal information unless the information is already public, the prisoner consents, or there is some kind of legal authority to disclose the information. The Service has the legal authority to disclose some information to victims and the Correctional Investigator, for example. Authorized members of the Service may also disclose to the public some basic information about a prisoner, including the prisoner’s name, offences, temporary absence or conditional release eligibility dates, etc. Some information may be disclosed under the Privacy Act, such as a prisoner’s place of incarceration.
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