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Attendance at Parole Hearings

Applying to Attend a Parole Hearing

Individuals who wish to attend a hearing as an observer should contact either Corporate Office or the local Regional Office of the Board. For an office listing please see how to contact us here.
An individual who has been given permission to attend a hearing as an observer may not participate in the hearing in any way.
Observers will not be permitted to bring cameras, tape recorders, cell phones, Blackberrys or any other personal electronic device into the institution. Observers will be allowed to take notes during the hearing. Observers must agree to comply with all conditions established at the time of the hearing by Board members.
All observers are responsible to have a security clearance completed prior to the hearing. This can be done by contacting your local police service.
Any individual not arranging to have their security clearance determined prior to the hearing will be denied authorization to attend the hearing.
Persons under the age of 18 will not be allowed to attend as observers. This is due to the nature of the subject matter commonly discussed at hearings.
Authorization to Attend a Hearing
The Ontario Parole Board may approve or deny a person's application to attend as an observer, taking into consideration the:
  • views of any victims that have been permitted to attend;
  • need to preserve the confidentiality of information provided at the hearing and of the sources of that information;
  • fact that there is sufficient time before the hearing to obtain security clearance;
  • hearing room has adequate space for the person to attend;
  • security of the correctional institution or the personal safety of any person, including the person who applied to attend, may be compromised by the person's attendance at the hearing.
A denial of authorization to attend a hearing is not open to appeal.
 
The number of observers allowed to attend a hearing will be based upon the size of the hearing room and the security concerns of the institution. Approval to attend will be granted in chronological order of application, with the victim, victim support person and inmate assistants being given priority. Should a victim apply to attend after an observer they shall be given priority and if necessary the observer will be contacted to inform them that permission to attend has been revoked and the reasons for the decision.
 
Purpose of a Parole Hearing
 
The purpose of the hearing is to assist Board members in the assessment of risk by obtaining information directly from the offender and other participants. At the hearing, the offender's case is reviewed with the offender and any other participants and the Board will either grant or deny parole and will inform the offender of the decision. If parole is denied, the offender will be informed of the reasons parole was denied.
 
Entering an Institution
 
Parole hearings are usually held in a correctional institution. This means that strict security rules are necessary and space is limited. When arriving at the institution you must:
  • provide two pieces of Identification including one piece of photo identification and one piece of identification confirming your current address;
  • complete the Visitor Registry;
  • follow all institutional rules - for example, cameras, tape recorders, cell phones, Blackberrys or any other personal electronic device are not permitted into the institution;
  • consent to a security check utilizing metal detectors, x-ray equipment and visual inspection of purses, bags and packages;
  • any observer who does not consent to the security procedure will not be admitted into the institution.
About the Hearing
 
Several individuals may be involved in a parole hearing.
  • Board members - two board members will conduct hearings
  • The Offender
  • The Offender's assistant, such as a family member, lawyer, interpreter, friend
  • Victim(s)
  • Other Board Staff
Observers may not participate in the hearing in any way.
 
What Happens at a Hearing?
 
A hearing is a proceeding but it is not a trial.
  • The offender, Board members and any other participants will already be in the room when you enter
  • The Board members will review certain preliminary matters prior to the interview commencing
  • The board records all Board hearings
  • The Board members will review the facts of the case with the offender
  • Victims may make a submission to the board members
  • The offender will be interviewed by the board members
  • All participants and observers will be asked to leave the room while the board members deliberate
  • Once board members have reached a decision, all participants will be asked to return to the room to hear the Boards decision and reasons
Information you should know:
 
Hearings may be postponed or cancelled without warning;
  • Due to the size of some hearing rooms, observers, victims and offenders may be in close proximity.
  • Observers or victims may be asked to leave the hearing if it is determined that their presence affects the hearing process. In such cases they will be escorted back to the visiting area of the institution.
  • You will be asked to leave the hearing while confidential information is being discussed.
  • Individuals who are not part of the hearing process will not be allowed to enter the hearing room once a hearing has begun.
  • The length of parole hearings varies from case to case.
  • Observers are responsible for making their own arrangements and covering the costs of attending a parole hearing.
  • There should not be any food in the hearing room. If the hearing extends into the lunch period, the hearing continues until it is completed.