COVID-19 and restrictions in halfway houses
- Kate Mitchell
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In response to COVID-19, many community residential facilities (aka halfway houses) are implementing policies and house directives that limit residents’ curfews, leave privileges, and access to the community.
A prisoner granted parole or released with a residency condition (on statutory release or on a Long-Term Supervision Order (“LTSO”)) is required to follow house rules. Failure to follow house rules, no matter how restrictive they are, could result in a suspension or (for someone under an LTSO) even criminal charges.
Collateral attacks on residency conditions are generally not allowed. This means an offender who is criminally charged for breaching a condition cannot challenge the legality of the condition at trial. Similarly, when conducting a post-suspension hearing, the Parole Board of Canada generally does not consider the legality, necessity, or reasonableness of the condition.
That said, it may be possible to challenge restrictions imposed by the Parole Board of Canada, parole officers, halfway houses, etc. made in response to COVID-19. There are a range of mechanisms that can be used to challenge conditions and local instructions, including writing to the Board for relief from a condition, habeas corpus, and judicial review.
If you’ve had leave privileges or travel permits cancelled, access to the community significantly reduced, or other privileges taken away, contact us to discuss your options.