COVID-19 and refusal to consider parole by exception applications
- Kate Mitchell
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Prisoners have their day and full parole eligibility dates calculated at intake. These eligibility dates are generally the earliest the Parole Board of Canada will release a prisoner. However, prisoners can also apply for parole by exception if:
a) They are terminally ill;
b) Their physical or mental health is likely to suffer serious damage if the offender continues to be held in confinement;
c) Continued confinement would constitute an excessive hardship that was not reasonably foreseeable at the time the offender was sentenced; or
d) The prisoner is the subject of an order of surrender under the Extradition Act and who is to be detained until surrendered
Some prisoners are ineligible for parole by exception, specifically those serving life sentences imposed as a minimum (or commuted from a sentence of death) and those serving indeterminate sentences.
Under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, “parole may be granted at any time”. However, some prisoners have been told that the Board will not consider their applications for parole by exception where there is an upcoming hearing already scheduled.
The Board has discretion to grant parole by exception, but it’s our position that the Board has no discretion to refuse to consider an application for parole by exception. Refusing to consider parole by exception applications during the COVID-19 pandemic impacts prisoners’ right to life, liberty, and security of the person.
Options may be available to force the Board to consider an application. Contact us today to discuss those options.