What happens when prisoners breach their parole conditions?
- Kate Mitchell
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Prisoners who are granted parole by the Parole Board of Canada (i.e. prisoners serving sentence of 2 years or more) or the Ontario Parole Board (i.e prisoners serving sentences of less than 2 years) must abide by any conditions imposed on their release. Some conditions are standard for all prisoners on parole, but other conditions may be imposed to address a prisoner’s particular risk factors.
If a prisoner on parole breaches a condition, then the prisoner’s parole may be suspended. That means the prisoner will be taken back into custody and held for a post-suspension hearing before the relevant parole board. The relevant parole board will either a) cancel the suspension and release the prisoner back on parole, or b) revoke the prisoner’s parole.
Revocation means the prisoner will be re-incarcerated until they reapply for parole, reach their statutory release date (for federal prisoners) or earned remission discharge possible date (for provincial prisoners), or the end of their sentence.
The situation is more complicated for federal prisoners, who may be held in provincial correctional facilities after being suspended. This can be a problem because the 90 day timeline for the Board to render a decision does not start until a referral is made by Correctional Service Canada or the the prisoner is returned to a federal penitentiary. A referral often won’t be made until the prisoner is back in a federal prison. So a federal prisoner who is being held in a provincial facility may not get a decision from the Board for considerably more than 90 days.
If the breach also resulted in criminal charges, then bail must be addressed. A prisoner who doesn’t have bail on new charges won’t be released, even if the suspension is cancelled or the prisoner reaches their statutory release date.