Parole Board of Canada hearings move to WebEx
- Kate Mitchell
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The Parole Board of Canada announced this week that Parole Board of Canada hearings are moving to WebEx.
Prior to COVID-19, hearings occurred in-person, with Board Members, parole officers, lawyers, and observers generally attending in-person. Since the pandemic began, hearings have been conducted through a mix of audioconferencing and videoconferencing, and the Board has had a more limited ability to allow observers to attend (e.g. prisoners’ family members, friends, etc.).
The move to WebEx is a positive step, as it gives assistants the ability to participate by videoconference. It can be easier to gauge the Board’s reactions and concerns over video (opposed to over audioconference), which can help assistants provide more effective submissions. It remains to be seen whether this change will allow more observers to participate in hearings.
Parole Board of Canada regional offices have discretion to conduct in-person hearing in some cases, such as for Elder-Assisted Hearings or where the prisoner has difficulties communicating with the Board remotely. Whether an in-person hearing is allowed depends on regional public health restrictions and prison closures.