Who is eligible for parole by exception?
- Kate Mitchell
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Under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, prisoners can be granted parole “at any time” if certain criteria are met. Parole by exception can be granted if a prisoner:
- is terminally ill,
- is likely to suffer serious damage to their physical or mental health if continued to be incarcerated,
- is experiencing excessive hardship that was not reasonably foreseeable at the time of sentencing, or
- subject to an order of surrender under the Extradition Act and to be detained until surrendering.
The only prisoners ineligible for parole by exception are those serving life sentences imposed as minimum punishment or those serving indeterminate sentences.
The Parole Board of Canada has taken a restrictive approach to determining who can apply for parole by exception. For example, prisoners past their day and/or full parole eligibility may be told they are ineligible for parole by exception, since they can apply for a regular parole review.
This can be problematic though. After applying for day parole, it can take up to 6 months to get a hearing. Someone who is terminally ill or suffering in custody may not have that much time. While Correctional Service Canada and the Parole Board of Canada may try to coordinate to have hearings moved up in exceptional cases, this is discretionary and not always done.
It’s our position that, under the statute, eligible prisoners can apply for parole by exception at any time, including after their parole eligibility dates. Prisoners need to have expeditious access to a parole review in exceptional circumstances, and there shouldn’t be a distinction between prisoners who have past their eligibility dates and those who have not.
If you’re looking for assistance with parole by exception, contact us today.