Parole Hearings & Prison Law
Lockyer Zaduk Zeeh regularly conducts parole hearings for offenders convicted of all offences including murder. The lawyers at LZZ are successful at securing parole for their clients and ensuring their return into the community. LZZ represents people nationwide who need assistance during their parole hearing. LZZ also provides consultation services to assist those navigating the complexities of the prison system.
An inmate convicted of a crime are eligible for parole after they have served one-third of their sentence, and eligible for statutory release after they have served two-thirds of their sentence. These numbers are determined based on the remnant of the individual’s sentence after they have received credit for pre-sentence custody. For example, if an individual is sentenced to 4 years in custody, but they received credit for 1.5 years, the 1/3 and 2/3 numbers will be calculated based on the remaining sentence of 2.5 years.
The rules differ when deal with a life sentence. Individuals convicted of first-degree murder are not eligible for parole until they have served 25 years of their sentence. For individuals convicted of second-degree murder, the judge will set parole eligibility between 10 and 25 years. The individual would have the right to a parole hearing after 7 years, if they have been sentenced to a life sentence without a minimum period of ineligibility.
Some offenders are also eligible for work release, Day Parole, or Unescorted Temporary Absences. Parole-by-Exception can also be secured in extraordinary circumstances.
What to Expect at a Parole Hearing
Parole hearings are significantly different than other hearings in the criminal justice system. They take place before a tribunal made up of Parole Board members, rather than a judge, and they are typically held at the prison where the individual is serving their sentence.
The purpose of the hearing is to help the Board members assess the risk the individual may pose to the public should they be granted conditional release. Board members determine whether this risk could be managed effectively in the community.
Much of the hearing is devoted to the Board’s questioning of the offender. The offender’s lawyer and parole officer may also make submissions. A victim may present a victim impact statement.
Our Lawyers Succeed at Parole Hearings in Provincial and Federal Institutions
Our lawyers have had great success before both the Ontario Parole Board and Parole Board of Canada. Our lawyers have secured release for the those convicted of the most serious offences, including gun offences and individuals convicted of multiple homicides. LZZ works with offenders to develop strong release plans and to ensure that they are well-prepared for the tough questions asked at parole hearings.
Common Questions Regarding Parole
What is the difference between Provincial and Federal corrections?
Provincial corrections is concerned with offenders who have been sentenced for two years less a day, or less, only. Federal corrections is concerned with offenders who have been sentenced for two years or more.
What is the intake process when you are incarcerated?
Once you have been sentenced, an intake assessment occurs to determine your risk level and needs. After the intake, you will be placed in an institution which meets your security level and a correctional plan will be crafted to suit your needs. The intake will identify your risk factors, your background, and your risks to the institution and correctional staff.
What is the difference between minimum, medium, and maximum security institutions?
Maximum Security: They are the most restrictive institutions since they house those who pose the greatest risk of escape and hence, the greatest danger to society. The buildings are surrounded by barbed-wire fences, and correctional officers are armed and posted in towers or other strategic surveillance locations.
Medium Security: Although medium institutions are fenced, the institution is less restrictive.
Minimum Security: Minimum security institutions are like small communities where inmates live in housing units with no fencing. Inmates’ routines are less restrictive. They can organize their schedule according to the activities they are required to participate in, and often are responsible for their own meals. This creates a sense of responsibility and prepares them for life in the community.
What is a Correctional Plan?
A Correctional Plan is a document that outlines a customized risk management strategy for each offender before they leave institutions on conditional release. This will include courses and programs that must be completed.
What is parole – When am I eligible for parole?
Parole allows offenders to serve their sentences in the community under strict conditions of release and the supervision of a parole officer. If they abide by their conditions of release, they will remain under sentence in the community until their sentence is completed in full, or for life in the case of offenders serving life or indefinite sentences.
Inmates are eligible for full parole after serving one-third of their sentence, or seven years, whichever is less. Different eligibility rules apply for offenders serving life sentences for murder or indeterminate sentences. The fact that offenders are eligible for parole, however, does not mean parole will be granted since the Parole Board would need to grant parole.
What kinds of conditional release are there?
Temporary Absence (Escorted or Unescorted): Temporary releases are granted for medical or humanitarian reasons, or to provide inmates with an opportunity to attend appropriate programs in the community. Unescorted temporary absences from federal maximum and medium security institutions are limited to 48 hours per month (or 72 hours in minimum security). Wardens have the right to grant temporary absences to inmates serving less than five years, while the board deals with those serving longer sentences. Provincial institutions have their own temporary absence policies and programs.
Day Parole: Day Parole provides an opportunity for inmates to participate in approved community-based activities. It may be granted to complete education or training, to take part in community service projects or seasonal work, or to maintain or strengthen family ties. Day Parole may be granted for a maximum of 12 months, but the usual term is four to six months. It can also be extended. Day Parole decisions are made by the Parole Board.
Full Parole: Offenders may be eligible for Full Parole after serving the first third of their sentence. If granted Full Parole, offenders will serve the balance of their sentence under supervision in the community.
What is statutory release – When am I eligible for statutory release
Statutory release, however, is a legal provision that automatically entitles most offenders, who have not been granted parole, to serve the final one-third of their sentence in the community. Offenders serving life and indeterminate sentences are not entitled to statutory release.
When you are released on statutory release, you will be in the community under strict conditions of release and the supervision of a parole officer.
Who makes decisions on parole – Who is the Parole Board?
The Parole Board of Canada is the organization of the criminal justice system that makes independent, conditional-release and pardon decisions, and clemency recommendations. Although your parole officers, also known as your case management team, will provide his or her input on your release, it is only a recommendation that the Parole Board will consider when making their decision.
What factors does the Parole Board consider when making decisions?
Board members assess each case individually in terms of risk and public safety. The Board’s assessment of the risk presented by an offender on parole is based on three major factors:
- Criminal history;
- Institutional behaviour and benefit from programs; and
- Release plan.