How Does The Parole Board Of Canada Make A Decision?

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The Parole Board reviews all available information regarding the inmate and decides their risk to the community.


The Parole Board of Canada (PBC) will consider:

  • Criminal and social history: The reasons for the type of offence, including the inmate’s understanding of the offence and any past offences.  Any progress the inmate has made by themselves or through participation in programs, their behaviour in the institution and while on any previous conditional release(s).
  • Victim Impact statements (if any)
  • Inmate release plan and Community Management Strategy (see our Blog: How to Plan for a Loved One’s Release from Prison/Jail)


How will the inmate’s case be reviewed?

The Parole Board will review each case in one of two ways:

  1. Review the inmate’s paper file(s) in their office and decide without meeting with the inmate (known as a Paper Decision)
  2. Review the inmate’s paper file(s) and meet with them at a hearing before making their decision.

The information the Parole Board will consider for review will be shared with the inmate.  The inmate can ask their Parole Officer for more information regarding the PBC review process.

If there is a hearing, the inmate has the right to have an assistant, and an interpreter present (if necessary).

Who is Involved in a Parole Hearing? 

Two Board Members from the PBC

  • The first will be the “lead” member and will direct the hearing and ask the majority of the questions.
  • The other will mostly listen and ask additional questions, if necessary
  • Both Board members have read the inmate’s paperwork and pay close attention to sources of information such as police reports, judge’s comments, CSC caseworkers, psychological and psychiatric reports, correctional reports, and victim statements

What is the Parole Hearing Procedure?

  1. The PBC Hearing Officer asks the inmate if the procedural safeguards have been followed –for example: Has all disclosure been shared with the inmate.
  2. Everyone (excluding observers) introduces themselves on the record. The Board may comment on observers present in the room.
  3. The victim reads their statement, if applicable. The victim may choose whether to read the statement at the beginning or near the conclusion of the hearing.
  4. The Parole Officer provides a case summary to the Board, including their recommendation for release.
  5. Most of the parole hearing consists of the interview between Board members and the inmate – the inmate will do most of the talking at the Hearing.
  6. The Board may summarize the hearing with the Parole Officer.
  7. The inmate’s assistant can make a presentation to the Board members at the end (if applicable).
  8. The inmate has the last word and can make comments, e.g. was something forgotten that he/she thinks is important.
  9. There is a brief recess; the Board members, Hearing Officer (and possibly the Cultural Advisor, where applicable) stay in the room and discuss the interview and relevant information to make an informed decision.
  10. After the recess, Board members summarize their decision and the reasons for the decision to the inmate.
    1. If the inmate is granted parole, Board Members will also mention any ‘special’ conditions that the inmate must follow and the reasons for those conditions, over and above those standard conditions that are part of all conditional releases.
    2. If the inmate is denied parole, he/she will be provided ways to improve their chances of gaining parole upon their next hearing.
  11. The hearing is over. All leave the hearing room.
  12. The inmate will receive a written, detailed copy of the decision within 15 days.