What is a Faint Hope Application?
A “faint hope application” is a legal process in Canada that allows certain prisoners who have been sentenced to life imprisonment with no possibility of parole for at least 15 years to apply for early parole. The application is based on the principle of “faint hop”, which acknowledges that even prisoners who have committed serious crimes may be capable of rehabilitation and redemption.
A person who has been sentenced to life imprisonment with no possibility of parole for at least 15 years may apply for a faint hope hearing after they have served at least 15 years of their sentence. The application is made to the Chief Justice of the province in which the person was convicted, and a hearing is held to determine whether the person is eligible for early parole.
At the hearing, the applicant must show that there is a “substantial likelihood” that they would be granted parole if they were eligible to apply for it, and that they have made significant progress towards rehabilitation and have not posed a risk to public safety while in custody. The hearing is conducted by a jury of six people, and if the jury agrees that the applicant meets the criteria for a faint hope application, the person’s sentence may be reduced to allow for the possibility of early release on parole.
Who is Eligible for a Faint Hope Application?
In Canada, only prisoners who have been sentenced to life imprisonment with no possibility of parole for at least 15 years are eligible to apply for a faint hope application. This includes individuals who have been convicted of first-degree murder, which carries an automatic life sentence with no possibility of parole for 25 years, as well as those who have been convicted of other serious offenses that carry a life sentence.
To be eligible for a faint hope application, the prisoner must have already served at least 15 years of their sentence, and must have no previous convictions for certain offenses, such as murder, attempted murder, or sexual assault. The prisoner must also have made significant progress towards rehabilitation and must not pose a risk to public safety while in custody.
As a result of Bill S-6, this useful mechanism has been eliminated for all “lifers” whose offences were committed after December 2, 2011, even if they no longer represent an undue risk to the community and would most benefit from release.