Category:Corrections policy

What victims should know about changes to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act

The Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA) was recently amended when Parliament passed Bill C-10, the Safe Streets and Communities Act.  Now, the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) and the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) can share more types of information with registered victims and more people will be eligible to register as victims.

The definition of a victim under the CCRA has been broadened. If a victim of crime is deceased, or is not able to act for him or herself, anyone who has custody of, or is responsible for, a dependent of a victim is eligible to receive information about the offender.  For example, agencies or individuals that have legal guardianship of a minor may now register as a victim with CSC or PBC to receive information about the offender.

As a result of the amendments to the CCRA, CSC can now share the following additional types of information:

  • the reason why an offender is transferred from one institution to another;
  • advance notification, if possible, of when an offender is transferred to a minimum-security institution (notification for transfers to other security levels will continue to be provided);
  • the reasons for any temporary absences approved for the offender;
  • the programs, designed to address the offender’s needs and contribute to their successful reintegration into the community, in which the offender is participating or has participated;
  • any serious disciplinary offences the offender has committed during their sentence.

CSC will continue to provide registered victims with ongoing information about transfers, temporary absences and travel permits as these events occur.  However, information about an offender’s program participation and serious disciplinary offences will be provided, if the victim wishes to receive it, by way of a written annual summary report.  CSC believes providing a written report will be helpful given the amount of information that could be contained in such a report.  Due to the number of people registered to receive this information, CSC plans to distribute these reports over the course of the coming year.  If a need to receive this report by a particular date arises (for example, if the offender has a parole hearing or court appearance coming up), CSC will make every effort to provide it within the requested timeframe.

You can learn more about the recent changes by visiting CSC’s Victim Services website at www.csc-scc.gc.ca/victims-victimes/index-eng.shtml.

These amendments also affect the Parole Board of Canada. Under the amended CCRA, a registered victim may also request from the PBC:

  • information about why an offender has waived a hearing; and
  • the reason for any Unescorted Temporary Absence (UTA).

As well, through the PBC Decision Registry, anyone may request copies of Board decisions, including decisions on Escorted Temporary Absences (ETA) under Board authority.

Any registered victim may present a statement at a hearing, and this right is now entrenched in law. This has been a practice at the Board for many years. As well, the PBC will be able to go forward with a parole review and make decisions on a case if an offender withdraws his or her participation 14 days or less before the hearing date. This does not apply if the withdrawal is for reasons beyond the offender’s control. It also does not affect an offender’s right to request a postponement, to waive a hearing, or to withdraw a temporary absence application.

You can find more information, including how to apply to the PBC Decision Registry, by visiting www.pbc-clcc.gc.ca.  The form that victims complete to request information from CSC and PBC has been updated to reflect the changes introduced by Bill C-10.  It is posted on their websites.

Amendments to the CCRA come into force

The federal government today announced that amendments to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA) have come into force.  These amendments, introduced as part of the Safe Streets and Communities Act, increase support for victims of crime and make offenders more accountable for their actions.

The amendments to the CCRA:

  • enshrine victim participation in conditional release hearings, and keep victims better informed about the management of offenders;
  • increase offender accountability by modernizing disciplinary sanctions and adding a requirement in law to complete a correctional plan for each offender that sets out behavioural expectations, objectives for program participation, and the meeting of court-ordered obligations such as victim restitution or child support;
  • give police the tools they need and the power to arrest an offender who appears to be in violation of their parole in certain circumstances; and
  • emphasize the importance of considering the seriousness of an offence in Parole Board of Canada decision-making.

The Safe Streets and Communities Act received Royal Assent on March 13, 2012.  Amendments relating to theJustice for Victims of Terrorism Act and to the Criminal Records Act came into force upon Royal Assent, and amendments to the International Transfer of Offenders Act came into force on May 3, 2012.  The remaining amendments to the Act will come into force on a day or days to be fixed by order of the Governor in Council.

For more information on the amendments to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, please visit the website: http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/media/nr/2012/nr20120613-1-eng.aspx.

The Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime offers support, research and education to survivors and stakeholders.

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