6 Things to know about escorted temporary absences (ETAs)
- Kate Mitchell
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Offenders serving sentences in federal institutions are eligible for “escorted temporary absences” (ETAs).
- What are ETAs?
ETAs are one of three forms of temporary absence available to inmates (the others are unescorted temporary absences and work release).
On ETAs, inmates are allowed to leave the institution (alone or as part of a group) accompanied by correctional staff.
ETAs can be granted for medical, administrative, community service, family contact, parental responsibility, personal development for rehabilitation, or compassionate reasons.
- Who is eligible?
Medical ETAs may be granted at any time in an inmate’s sentence.
Other types of ETAs can generally be granted at any time, except for inmates who are detained and only eligible for medical or administrative ETAs.
- What is the process for getting ETAs?
An inmate must complete an Application for Temporary Absence and submit that form to his or her Parole Officer. The Parole Officer will then review the application, discuss the proposed temporary absence with the inmate, complete any necessary Community Assessments or other documents, and prepare an Assessment for Decision (in which the Parole Officer will make a recommendation to approve or deny the ETA).
Others may also provide recommendations to the decision-maker, such as the Manager, Assessment and Interventions and Correctional Managers.
For most offenders, Correctional Service Canada (“CSC”) is the “granting authority” and the Warden will decide if the ETA should be granted.
However, for inmates serving a life sentence imposed as life minimum, the Parole Board of Canada may have to approve or authorize ETAs (except ETAs for medical purposes or court attendances). Similarly, if an ETA approved by a Warden was cancelled because the offender breached a condition, then subsequent ETAs (except ETAs for medical purposes or court attendances) may be authorized by the Board.
The Board or CSC can impose any conditions that it considers reasonable and necessary to protect society.
- What is the criteria for granting ETAs?
ETAs may be granted where decision-maker finds that the inmate will not, by re-offending, present an undue risk to society while on the ETA.
The decision-maker must find that it is desirable for the inmate to be absent for one of the reasons for which the absence was granted, the inmate’s institutional behaviour does not preclude authorizing the absence, and a structured plan for the absence has been prepared.
- What is the duration of ETAs?
Except for medical ETAs, there are generally time limits on ETAs.
ETAs typically won’t don’t exceed 8 hours. But in special circumstances, the Warden can extend this time.
Non-medical ETAs may be granted by the Warden for up to five days, or for up to 15 days with the Regional Deputy Commissioner’s approval.
The Board can grant ETAs for up to 15 days.
- How long does it take to get ETAs?
Once an application is received, the Assessment for Decision must be prepared within 30 days (if no Community Assessment or Community Strategy is required) or 60 days (if either or both documents are required).
Where CSC is the granting authority, the Warden has to make a decision to grant or deny the ETAs within 10 days of the completion of the Assessment for Decision. Timelines for the Board to make a decision are less clear.
If an ETA is denied, then inmates generally need to wait 6 months before a new application will be considered (except ETAs for medical or compassionate reasons).