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Victims and the Ontario Parole Board

The Ontario Parole Board welcomes input from, and the participation of, victims of crime. The Board recognizes the role of victims of crime in the criminal justice system and believes victims are an important part of the early release decision-making process.
 
Parole in Ontario
 
Parole is the early release of an offender from a correctional facility to the supervision of a Probation and Parole Officer in the community. An offender may be released on parole after serving one-third of his/her sentence.
 
The Ontario Parole Board decides whether or not to grant parole to adult offenders who have sentences of less than two years. Offenders who are under the age of 18 and sentenced to an adult sentence are eligible to apply for parole. (The Parole Board of Canada deals with offenders who have sentences of two years or more.)
 
Those who are under the age of 18 years and sentenced under the Youth Criminal Justice Act are not generally eligible for parole.
 
Parole Decisions
 
The decision to grant or to deny parole to an offender is made by two members of the Board. Members carefully review all of the information on the offender's file and conduct an in-person interview with the offender at a parole hearing.
 
The decision is based on an assessment of risk:
  • Whether the offender is likely to present a risk to society by committing another offence if released on parole; and
  • Whether parole will contribute to the protection of society by facilitating reintegration as a law abiding citizen with conditions placed on the offender by the Board to help him/her from reoffending.
Parole is not a reward for good behavior in the institution. The primary concern of the Board is the safety of the public. Board members must decide whether it is better for the community and the victim(s) to release an offender on parole to monitor his/her behaviour, or to wait until his/her sentence is over before returning to the community with no supervision or controls.
 
Parole Supervision
 
The purpose of parole supervision is to enhance public safety by:
  • Monitoring and enforcing a parolee's compliance with the Standard and Special Conditions of the parole certificate;
  • Motivating a parolee to comply with the Standard and Special Conditions of the parole certificate;
  • Helping the parolee to access the community resources and/or services which will allow them to address identified criminogenic risk factors; and
  • Assisting the parolee with the transition from the institution to the community.
 
Victim Input

In addition to information it receives from the police, the courts and corrections, the Board welcomes information from the victim of the offence to help render decisions. 
This information will be considered along with all the other information to which the Board has access.
 
Victims may provide a written submission or attend the offender's parole hearing and give an oral statement. Victims may also provide information to a Board Case Officer who will ensure the Board members have the information before making a decision. Because this information is used in deciding whether the offender will be granted early release, the offender may have access to any information provided by victims and will be present if an oral statement is given at a hearing.
 
The Board is interested in knowing about the physical, financial and emotional impact of the offence on the victim, the ongoing impact, and any conditions the victim would like the Board to impose if the offender is granted release.
 
Victims may also attend to observe a hearing. Victims are encouraged to bring a support person with them to the hearing. Other observers, such as the media, may also be present at the hearings.
 
Victims who wish to attend or participate in hearings must contact a Board Case Officer as soon as possible after receiving notification of the hearing and request authorization to attend the hearing. All hearings will be held in provincial correctional facilities and victims/observers will have to go through a security screening prior to being granted permission to attend the hearing. The steps you need to take to attend a hearing are:
  • Register with the Victim Support Line for notification;
  • Apply to the Board indicating your interest in attending a hearing;
  • Receive authorization from the Board to attend;
  • Attend the hearing.
 
Victim Notification
Victims may call the Ontario Victim Support Line to get the support and information they need. By calling 1-888-579-2888 (or 416-314-2447 in the Toronto dialing area) victims can listen to a recorded message that will help them to:
  • Speak with someone about a specific adult provincial offender. By choosing this option, victims can find out how to submit information, which will be considered in parole decisions. They can also find out about any releases and re-incarcerations of a specific offender including release on parole, escapes, parole suspensions and recaptures;
  • Get general information about the criminal justice system and how it works;
  • Speak directly to an information counsellor who will provide information on victim supports and services available in the victim's community;
  • Register with the Victim Notification System (VNS) to receive automated voice messages by phone any time there is a change in the status of the offender.

Funding for Victims to Attend Hearings
The Ontario Government has created a fund to provide victims with some financial assistance to attend parole hearings in Ontario. For information relating to the fund contact the Board Case Officer at the location nearest you.