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  Parole Board Hearings Parole Board Hearings

What is parole?

Parole is a carefully constructed bridge between incarceration and return to the community. It is a conditional release, which allows some offenders to continue to serve the balance of their sentence outside of the institution.

Parole does not mean that offenders are completely free, without supervision. It does mean that they have an opportunity, under the supervision and assistance of a parole officer, to become contributing members of society, providing they abide by the conditions of their release. If the conditions of parole are not met, the Board has the power to revoke the parole and return the offender to prison.

What is a parole hearing?

A parole hearing is a face-to-face meeting between Board members and the offender. It's purpose is to help Board members assess the risk that an offender may pose should they be granted conditional release, and if this risk can be managed in the community.

Who can observe a parole hearing?

Members of the general public who are 18 years of age and older, victims and their families and supporters, offenders' families and supporters, and the media may apply to attend parole hearings.

How can I apply to observe a parole hearing and/or present a victim statement?

You can apply to observe a parole hearing and/or present a victim statement in the Request to Observe a Parole Hearing and/or Present a Victim Statement section of your Victims Portal account. Alternatively, you can complete the Request to Observe a Parole Hearing and/or Present a Victim Statement form and mail it to the Parole Board regional office where the hearing will take place. For more information on victim statements, see Victim Statements.

If you have any questions, please contact the Parole Board of Canada at the number below.

Parole Board of Canada 1-866-789-4636

Note: Each support person who will accompany you to the hearing must also request permission to enter a CSC facility by completing the Request to Observe a Parole Hearing form.

What happens at a parole hearing?

Parole hearings typically proceed as follows:

  • The offender, parole officer, Regional Communications Officer (RCO), victim(s) and observers are guided into the hearing room;
  • The Hearing Officer reads the procedural safeguards and asks the offender if their rights in the process have been followed;
  • If a victim has chosen to read a victim statement at the hearing, Board members will invite them to read their statement at some point before coming to a decision;
  • Board members ask the parole officer questions about the offender;
  • If the offender has an assistant, the assistant may make a statement to the Board members;
  • Board members ask the offender questions;
  • So they may deliberate, Board members ask the offender, parole officer, observers, RCO and victims to leave the hearing room. The RCO, victim and observers wait in a separate area.
  • Board members discuss the offender's file information and analyze what they heard and make a decision;
  • The RCO escorts victims and observers back into the hearing room;
  • Board members state their decision and reasons. If the offender is granted parole, Board members state any special conditions the offender must follow and the reasons for those conditions;
  • Victims and observers are escorted from the hearing room by the RCO.

Can I designate a support person to accompany me to a parole hearing?

Yes — A friend or family member who is at least 18 years old may accompany the victim to the hearing to provide support. If desired, the support person may read the victim's statement on their behalf.

Note: Before attending the hearing, your support person must request permission to enter a CSC facility by completing the Request to Observe a Parole Hearing form.

Can I apply for financial assistance to attend a parole hearing?

Yes — Financial assistance is provided to registered victims of crime who wish to attend parole hearings for the offender who harmed them. Financial assistance is also available for a support person to accompany registered victims to parole hearings or to provide child and dependent care to enable victims to attend hearings.

For further information, see Financial Assistance for Victims to Attend Parole Board of Canada Hearings on the Department of Justice website.

Under what circumstances can the Parole Board of Canada deny a request to observe a hearing?

As a general rule, the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) welcomes observers and will make every effort to accommodate them. Occasionally, however, the PBC may deny a request if it believes an applicant:

  • is likely to disrupt the hearing, or if his/her presence or the presence of any other observers, is likely to affect adversely the Board's ability to assess the case
  • might affect adversely someone who has provided information to the PBC, including victims or members of the victim's or offender's family
  • is likely to upset the balance between the observer's interests and the public's interest in the successful return to society of the offender as a law-abiding citizen
  • may put the security and good order of the institution at risk; and
  • if the person is under 18 years of age (with rare exceptions).

The PBC can also deny permission to a person to attend a hearing if:

  • several observers have been approved and more cannot be accommodated because of limited space
  • the application to attend was received too late to be processed before the hearing

Where does the hearing take place?

Parole Board hearings typically take place inside the penitentiary where the offender is held.

How do I find out the scheduled date for a parole hearing?

Registered victims will automatically be notified by the PBC of an offender's upcoming review dates for conditional release.

What should I do when I arrive to observe a hearing?

When you arrive at the penitentiary, go to the main entrance. A Regional Communications Officer (RCO) will meet you there. You will need to sign in and out of the institution, provide photo identification, and may need to go through a security check with a metal and drug scanner administered by the Correctional Service of Canada staff. Purses and bags may also be checked.

Are there items that should not be bought into the penitentiary?

Yes — Items such as cigarettes and matches, cellular phones, personal electronic devices, portable computers, cameras and audio/video recording equipment are not permitted in a penitentiary.

How long does a parole hearing last?

The length of a parole hearing may vary; some may last several hours.

Can a parole hearing be postponed?

Yes — Under the law, offenders can postpone their hearing for a variety of reasons.

When a postponement is granted, the PBC makes every effort to inform victims who were scheduled to attend the hearing as soon as possible. Hearings are rescheduled as soon as is practical, and by law no later than three months following the postponement. If an offender withdraws 14 days or less before the hearing date - unless it is for reasons beyond the offender's control - the Parole Board can proceed with the review and make a decision on the case.

I cannot or do not want to attend the hearing in person. Can I still submit a victim statement?

Yes — If you can’t attend in person, or you don’t want to, you may submit a written statement or present your statement on a recording. If this is the case, please contact the PBC regional office nearest you to discuss.

Can I request to listen to the audio recording of an offender’s hearing?

Yes - Under federal law, a victim can request to listen to an audio recording of certain hearings. Please note you must be a registered victim with the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) to listen to an audio recording of an offender's hearing. To register as a victim, please complete and sign the Request for Victim Registration form available on the PBC website at: or register via the Victims Portal

Please note the following conditions:

Parts of the hearing that could put a person's safety at risk, reveal a confidential source of information, or should not be heard due to privacy interests, may be removed from the audio recording. Your request to listen to a hearing recording is subject to the following conditions:

  • The hearing occurred on or after June 1st, 2016.
  • The hearing pertains to a Day Parole and/or Full Parole decision.

How do I request to listen to the audio recording of an offender’s hearing?

To request to listen to an audio recording of an offender’s hearing:

  1. In the main menu, click Case Information > Parole Information > Request to listen to Audio Recording of Hearing

    The Request to listen to Audio Recording of Hearing page will open.

  2. Select an Offender whose hearing you would like to listen to by way of audio recording. Enter the Date of Hearing, if known, manually or click on the Calendar icon to select the date.
  3. Enter any Special Needs in the text box, if applicable
  4. Check the Acknowledgement box
  5. Click Submit.

To request listen to an audio recording for another offender, repeat the steps above.

Related Information

Frequently Asked Questions Glossary
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