COVID-19 and cancellation of leave privileges
- Kate Mitchell
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Prisoners, parolees, and those under long-term supervision orders residing at Community Correctional Centers (“CCCs”) and Community Residential Facilities (“CRF”) have been seeing their leave privileges cancelled in light of COVID-19.
Correctional Service Canada appears to be directing (at least some) CCCs and CRFs to limit movement in and out of facilities. As a result, some individuals are reporting that overnight and weekend absences have been cancelled because of concerns about spreading COVID-19. Residents may only be allowed to leave for essential reasons (grocery shopping, medical appointment, employment deemed essential) or once a day for a walk.
While COVID-19 presents public health challenges, it must be remembered that Correctional Service Canada’s purpose “is to contribute to the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by
(a) carrying out sentences imposed by courts through the safe and humane custody and supervision of offenders; and
(b) assisting the rehabilitation of offenders and their reintegration into the community as law-abiding citizens through the provision of programs in penitentiaries and in the community.”
We take the position that Correctional Service Canada does not have the jurisdiction to restrict anyone’s liberty based on public health concerns.
In addition, Correctional Service Canada is required to use the least restrictive measures consistent with the protection of society. Blanket policies that restrict liberty without accounting for the unique needs and circumstances of individuals is contrary to this principle.
If you’re looking for assistance challenging the cancellation of leave privileges, contact us.