Simon Says

Bringing clarity to the inner workings of our legal system

5 Things to know about detention review hearings

1. What is a detention review hearing?

Offenders serving federal sentences are entitled to be released after serving 2/3 of their sentence, unless the Parole Board of Canada decides to detain an offender until the end of their sentence . A hearing is held to decide if the offender should be detained and on what conditions. The Board can order that an offender on statutory release reside in a halfway house, psychiatric facility, or penitentiary.

2. When does the Board make the decision?

Correctional Service Canada (“CSC”) generally must make its recommendation to detain an offender more than 6 months before the offender’s Statutory Release Date. A detention review hearing will generally be held within the 6 months prior to the offender’s Statutory Release Date.

If the detention review hearing is scheduled after an inmate’s Statutory Release Date, the offender may be detained pending the outcome of the hearing.

3. How does the offender decide who to detain?

CSC must review cases of offenders who have committed certain offences (Schedule I and II offences in the CCRA), and a referral can be made for detention in other cases. A referral is made if CSC believes there are reasonable grounds to believe that the offender, if released and before the end of their sentence, is likely to commit an offence causing death or serious harm to another person, a sexual offence involving a child or offence, or a serious drug offence.

The Board can then order the offender be detained if it is likely that the offender would, if released, commit an offence causing death or serious harm to another person, a sexual offence involving a child or offence, or a serious drug offence.

The Board considers:

  • Whether there is a pattern of persistent violent behaviour
  • Medical, psychiatric, or psychological evidence
  • Reliable information that the offender is planning to commit an offence causing death or serious harm before the end of the offender’s sentence
  • The availability of supervision programs to protect the public

4. What happens if an offender is detained?

If an offender is detained, the offender can appeal the decision. Offenders are also entitled to have their detention reviewed annually, or (if the offender is serving a sentence for a Schedule I offence that caused death or serious harm) every 2 years.

5. What if an offender is granted Statutory Release but then breaches?

In some cases, the Board can make an order that if the offender is released and breaches, then the offender is not entitled to be released again. This is referred to as “one-chance Statutory Release”. If an offender is initially detained and released on a review, then the release is one-chance.

In other cases, offenders may have their release suspended and be referred for a post-suspension hearing.

Past performance is not indicative of future results, and outcomes will vary according to the facts of individual cases. This site is intended for information purposes only. None of the information on this site should be considered “legal advice.” Information on this website (including blog posts and answers to frequently asked questions) is the opinion of the author only and is not warrantied or guaranteed to be an exhaustive, definitive, or accurate statement of the law. The proper interpretation and application of the law must always be done on a case specific basis; therefore, you should not rely on the general information on this site as a substitute for proper legal research or the advice of a licenced lawyer.