How do parole appeals work?
- Kate Mitchell
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Prisoners can appeal decisions of the Parole Board of Canada to the Appeal Division. In addition to appealing a denial of parole, prisoners can also appeal the conditions imposed on parole or statutory release.
Prisoners need to submit their appeals within two months from the hearing date (due to COVID-19, this time frame has temporarily been extended). Appeals that are submitted late will only be accepted at the discretion of the Vice-Chairperson of the Appeal Division.
Appeals are generally reviewed in the order they come in, except for appeals of detention orders, post-suspension decisions, and other cases that are deemed to be priority.
Reviews are done by file review. This means there is no appeal hearing, and instead the appeal is based on the Appeal Division reviewing the prisoner’s correctional documents and listening to the recording of the hearing.
Decisions can be appealed on the basis of:
- a failure to observe a principle of fundamental justice
- an error in law
- a breach of a policy
- a decision based on erroneous or incomplete information, and/or
- a jurisdictional error
The Appeal Division is not limited to the grounds of appeal argued in the prisoner’s appeal submissions. The Appeal Division may order a new hearing based on a ground not mentioned in the appeal submissions.
Note that the Appeal Division typically does not reassess the Board’s findings with respect to the prisoner’s risk of re-offending and substitute their findings, unless the Appeal Division agrees that the decision was unreasonable and unsupported by the information before the Board.
Appeals are considered by two Board members. If the Appeal Division grants the appeal, they can order a new review. The review may take place in person or in writing (the Appeal Division will specify how the review will be conducted). The review will generally take place within two months of the Appeal Division’s decision.
Prisoners will receive written reasons from the Appeal Division describing why their appeal was or was not granted. Decisions of the Appeal Division can be challenged by filing an application for judicial review in the Federal Court. A notice of application typically needs to be filed within 30 days. So prisoners thinking of judicially reviewing a decision of the Appeal Division should contact a lawyer as soon as possible.