The Community Correctional Centre (CCC) in Chilliwack is a halfway house run by the Correctional Service of Canada and houses high-risk offenders reintegrating into the community. It is the only CCC in British Columbia. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

The Community Correctional Centre (CCC) in Chilliwack is a halfway house run by the Correctional Service of Canada and houses high-risk offenders reintegrating into the community. It is the only CCC in British Columbia. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

LETTER: Public safety ‘first and foremost consideration,’ says parole board

Board responding to article about Chilliwack halfway house

Re: Union for parole officers at B.C. halfway house says public safety at risk, Dec. 4.

The article states that government pressure to move Indigenous offenders back into community has resulted in pressure to put offenders in front of parole boards after just one program is completed in prison and therefore before these offenders are ready for release.

As chairperson of the Parole Board of Canada (PBC), which has responsibility for making decisions to grant parole to federal offenders and offenders serving sentences in all provinces and territories except Ontario and Quebec, I would like to clarify a few points.

READ MORE: Is the public protected from Chilliwack halfway house criminals?

The PBC is an administrative tribunal, which means that it operates at arm’s-length from government and free from any outside influence. The first and foremost consideration in all PBC decisions is public safety. Completion of programs is just one of many elements that board members look at as part of a thorough and multi-faceted risk assessment and is therefore not a deciding factor on its own.

In making their decisions, board members also look at an offender’s social and criminal history; systemic or background factors that may have contributed to the offender’s involvement with the criminal justice system; the reasons for and type of offence(s), including the offender’s understanding of the offence(s); their behaviour in the institution and while on previous conditional release; actuarial assessments and risk assessment tools; victim information; and the offender’s release plan and community supports. In doing so, board members must determine whether an offender will present an undue risk to society if released on parole before the end of their sentence, and whether their release will contribute to the protection of society by facilitating the offender’s return to the community as a law-abiding citizen.

Determining the offender’s risk to reoffend is at the core of the board’s role, and our outcomes demonstrate our effectiveness – in 2018-19, fully 99 per cent of offenders released on day parole, and 97 per cent of offenders released on full parole, did not re-offend.

Jennifer Oades

Chairperson, Parole Board of Canada

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