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37th PARLIAMENT, 3rd SESSION

Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness


EVIDENCE

CONTENTS

Tuesday, May 11, 2004




¹ 1535
V         The Chair (Mr. Derek Lee (Scarborough—Rouge River, Lib.))
V         Ms. Mary Campbell (Acting Director General, Corrections and Criminal Justice Directorate, Community Safety and Partnerships, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Normand Payette (Acting Director, Corrections Policy Division, Corrections and Criminal Justice Directorate, Community Safety and Partnerships, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness)

¹ 1540

¹ 1545
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Kevin Sorenson (Crowfoot, CPC)
V         Ms. Mary Campbell

¹ 1550
V         Mr. Kevin Sorenson
V         Mr. Normand Payette
V         Mr. Kevin Sorenson
V         Ms. Mary Campbell
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Yves Rocheleau (Trois-Rivières, BQ)

¹ 1555
V         Mr. Normand Payette
V         Mr. Michel Laprade (Senior Counsel, Legal Services, Correctional Service Canada, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness)

º 1600
V         Mr. Normand Payette
V         Mr. Yves Rocheleau
V         Mr. Normand Payette
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Paul DeVillers (Simcoe North, Lib.)
V         Ms. Mary Campbell

º 1605
V         Mr. Normand Payette
V         Mr. Michel Laprade
V         Hon. Paul DeVillers
V         Ms. Mary Campbell

º 1610
V         Hon. Paul DeVillers
V         Ms. Mary Campbell
V         Hon. Paul DeVillers
V         Ms. Mary Campbell
V         Hon. Paul DeVillers
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Kevin Sorenson
V         Ms. Mary Campbell

º 1615
V         Mr. Kevin Sorenson
V         Ms. Mary Campbell
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Normand Payette
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Normand Payette
V         The Chair
V         Hon. Lawrence MacAulay (Cardigan, Lib.)

º 1620
V         Ms. Mary Campbell
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Yves Rocheleau
V         Mr. Normand Payette

º 1625
V         The Chair
V         Mr. John Maloney (Erie—Lincoln, Lib.)
V         Mr. Normand Payette

º 1630
V         Mr. Michel Laprade
V         Mr. John Maloney
V         Mr. Michel Laprade
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Kevin Sorenson
V         Mr. Normand Payette
V         Mr. Kevin Sorenson
V         Mr. Normand Payette
V         Mr. Kevin Sorenson
V         Ms. Mary Campbell

º 1635
V         Mr. Kevin Sorenson
V         Ms. Mary Campbell
V         Mr. Kevin Sorenson
V         Ms. Mary Campbell
V         Mr. Normand Payette
V         Mr. Kevin Sorenson
V         The Chair

º 1640
V         Hon. Paul DeVillers
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Marlene Catterall (Ottawa West—Nepean, Lib.)
V         Ms. Mary Campbell
V         Ms. Marlene Catterall
V         Ms. Mary Campbell
V         Ms. Marlene Catterall
V         Ms. Mary Campbell
V         Ms. Marlene Catterall
V         Ms. Mary Campbell

º 1645
V         Ms. Marlene Catterall
V         Ms. Mary Campbell
V         Ms. Marlene Catterall
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Kevin Sorenson
V         The Chair
V         Hon. Yvon Charbonneau (Anjou—Rivière-des-Prairies, Lib.)
V         Mr. Normand Payette

º 1650
V         Ms. Mary Campbell
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Kevin Sorenson

º 1655
V         Ms. Mary Campbell
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Kevin Sorenson
V         Ms. Mary Campbell
V         Mr. Kevin Sorenson
V         The Chair
V         Hon. Paul DeVillers

» 1700
V         Ms. Mary Campbell
V         Hon. Paul DeVillers
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Kevin Sorenson
V         The Chair










CANADA

Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness


NUMBER 017 
l
3rd SESSION 
l
37th PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

¹  +(1535)  

[English]

+

    The Chair (Mr. Derek Lee (Scarborough—Rouge River, Lib.)): Good afternoon, colleagues. We'll call the meeting to order.

    We're meeting today on the subject of Bill C-19, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act in the Criminal Code. This is our first meeting on this bill.

    We have before us today, as witnesses, two officials from the new Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and one official from Correctional Service Canada. They are Mary Campbell, the acting director general from the portion of the ministry she represents; Normand Payette, the acting director from a version of that portion of the ministry—I won't bother to read the description in our agenda; and Michel Laprade, who is senior counsel, legal services, from CSC.

    I'll start there. The purpose of the meeting, of course, in this case, is to give a general introduction to the bill and its objectives. We will certainly be scrutinizing it in more detail later on, but we're very interested in having this opening session. Thank you for attending.

    I'm hoping you'll have some remarks introducing us to the legislation, and you may proceed with that. I think Ms. Campbell is going to lead off.

    Thank you.

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    Ms. Mary Campbell (Acting Director General, Corrections and Criminal Justice Directorate, Community Safety and Partnerships, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness): Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

    It's my pleasure and privilege to appear before this committee once again, particularly in relation to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. I would like to make a few brief comments. I'll ask Mr. Payette to again outline, very briefly, the main features of the bill, and then we'd be delighted to receive the committee's questions.

    There are two things I wanted to say at the outset. First of all, I'd like to acknowledge with great sadness, personally, and for the criminal justice system and this committee, the death of Mr. Richard Zubrycki last week on May 5, 2004. Richard was a fine and honourable public servant who appeared before this committee on many occasions. It was his privilege to do so. He has worked tirelessly in criminal justice since he began his career in Manitoba in the 1960s, and he continued that same passion, spirit, integrity, and dedication here in Ottawa in the federal public service. Richard was part of the group that developed the Corrections and Conditional Release Act in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and he has been at the forefront of the work on it since that time. We, the system, and this country will miss his contribution greatly.

    This bill had its genesis in the review undertaken by a subcommittee of this committee in 1999. The original Corrections and Conditional Release Act, in 1992, was created to replace the Penitentiary Act and the Parole Act. The Penitentiary Act dated from 1868 and the Parole Act dated from 1959. The act that was created in 1992 was a comprehensive, modern code of correctional principles and practices, it reflected a great deal of the case law that had occurred in the 1980s, and had been the subject of much research and consultation.

    One section in the act called for a parliamentary review after five years. The review commenced in 1999, led by Mr. DeVillers. The report of the subcommittee and the committee was issued in the spring of 2000. There were 53 recommendations. I stand to be corrected, but I think, overall, the review found that the act was basically sound, but obviously there was room for improvement, as there always is.

    The government responded in October of 2000 and indicated that it accepted 46 of the 53 recommendations, in whole or in part. Many of the recommendations simply required a change in policy or operations. They didn't require legislative change, and of those recommendations, the ones that were accepted by the government have been acted on since that time. A number of the recommendations did require legislative amendment, and that is largely what you see before you today in Bill C-19. I appreciate that it's not an easy bill to read because it is an amendment bill, so there is no flow to it and it has to be read side by side with the act.

    Having set the background, I'll turn to Mr. Payette to outline the major elements that are in the bill, and then, as I say, we'd be delighted to receive questions.

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    The Chair: Mr. Payette.

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    Mr. Normand Payette (Acting Director, Corrections Policy Division, Corrections and Criminal Justice Directorate, Community Safety and Partnerships, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness): Thank you very much.

    As Ms. Campbell just pointed out, there are a number of outstanding recommendations that require a legislative change in order to be implemented. Bill C-19 will implement a number of these recommendations.

    To begin with, Bill C-19 would tighten the accelerated parole review scheme. It would exclude from accelerated parole review offenders convicted of criminal organization offences, treason, child pornography, offenders convicted of causing bodily harm with intent, and also offenders convicted of sexual assault of a person with a disability.

    Also, a provision in Bill C-19 would elevate the test that the National Parole Board must apply to decide whether to grant parole. Currently, under the present scheme, the parole board must direct parole unless it has reasonable grounds to believe that the offender will commit before the expiration of his or her sentence an offence involving violence. This would be replaced by the test set out in section 102 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. The parole board could/may grant parole if in its opinion the offender would not, by reoffending before the expiration of his or her sentence, constitute an undue risk to society. That's the first branch.

    The second branch would be that the release of the offender in the community would contribute to public protection by facilitating his reintegration into society as a law-abiding citizen. So this is a much higher, much more stringent test. It's a general recidivism test.

    Also, Bill C-19 would extend the parole ineligibility period of offenders who are serving sentences of more than six years. Under the current scheme, an offender is eligible for accelerated parole review after having served either six months or one-sixth of his or her sentence. Under the proposed scheme, the offender would be eligible at the longest of the following periods: six months, one-sixth of the sentence, or one year prior to full parole eligibility.

    To give you an example, an offender serving a 12-year sentence under the current scheme is eligible for APR at the two-year point. Under the proposed scheme, the offender would be eligible for parole in three years. In other words, one year before full parole eligibility, which would be the four-year mark.

¹  +-(1540)  

    As well, Bill C-19 would streamline the temporary absence scheme. It would provide that the Correctional Service of Canada would be responsible for authorizing escorted temporary absences to all offenders. It would also authorize the National Parole Board to grant unescorted temporary absences to offenders serving a life sentence or an indeterminate sentence. The Correctional Service of Canada would be responsible for granting unescorted temporary absences to the rest of the offenders.

    In addition, Bill C-19 contains a provision that would provide for the Correctional Service of Canada to review the case of all offenders who are entitled to be released under statutory release. This would be enshrined in the legislation. It is done by policy right now. The Correctional Service of Canada reviews the case of offenders entitled to statutory release and determines whether the offender should be referred to the National Parole Board for detention review or for the imposition of a special condition.

    Also, Bill C-19 would enshrine in legislation the victim's right to make a statement at a parole board hearing. This has been implemented in policy by the National Parole Board since July 2001, I believe. Bill C-19 would enshrine this right in legislation.

    Further, Bill C-19 would cancel the work release scheme. This is a recommendation by the standing committee. It has to do with the streamlining of the temporary absence process. What would happen is there is a provision in Bill C-19 that would add to the purposes of the temporary absence schemes. It would add a structured program of work to the purpose of granting a temporary absence. Also, it would specify educational or life skills programs as a purpose for granting temporary absence, and for escorted temporary absences there would be group activities that would foster pro-social behaviour.

    Bill C-19 would provide authority to the National Parole Board to grant parole to terminally ill offenders who are otherwise ineligible for parole, so there would be a grant on an exceptional basis for compassionate reasons.

    Also, Bill C-19 would allow the National Parole Board to increase its complement of full-time members from 45 to 60 members.

    Finally, it would allow the Correctional Service of Canada to attach to the annual report of the correctional investigator its full response to any observation, recommendation, or commentaries made by the correctional investigator. So the Correctional Service of Canada would have the opportunity to have its report attached to the annual and special reports of the correctional investigator.

    These, in a nutshell, are the main elements of the bill. As Ms. Campbell pointed out, a lot of the provisions are of a technical nature that clean up, clarify, and specify sentence calculation rules that are set out in the legislation.

¹  +-(1545)  

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    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    That was a succinct list. I'm rather inclined to allow a motion right now to adopt the bill and send it back to the House.

    I want to acknowledge Mr. DeVillers' continuing presence on this committee. He was one of the members who sat on the subcommittee. I don't know if any of the members opposite sat on that subcommittee. It was a good exercise, obviously, because it has had a reincarnation here.

    If there are no further interventions from our witnesses, we can go to questions.

    Mr. Sorenson, for seven minutes.

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    Mr. Kevin Sorenson (Crowfoot, CPC): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    I want to thank you for coming today.

    I've had the chance over the last number of years to go through the subcommittee's report on the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. As Ms. Campbell said, it made 53 recommendations. I think the Solicitor General at the time said there were 46 that they would consider recommending or moving ahead with. However, within the last six months, perhaps before Christmas, I sent a letter to the Library of Parliament asking how many of the 46 recommendations the government had put in place. The answer I received was that as far as they could determine, none. That contradicts what you said. You didn't say you brought in all 46, but you did say you had acted in some way on the 46.

    Before every election a number of bills come forward that make it look as if they're toughening up on crime or addressing some of the things from years gone by. Again, I suggest to you this is what Bill C-19 is. It's simply window dressing. I'd be surprised if it ever did see the light of day. But it makes it look as if we are moving on something.

    One of the recommendations in the subcommittee's report on the Corrections and Conditional Release Act was that they were committed to having a victims information and complaints office, perhaps a victims ombudsman, somebody who would be in charge of people within corrections and would hear from the victims. Can you tell me if any such body is in place? I know we get the victim's impact statement. I know that the files of offenders should contain a victim's impact statement. We found out a year and a half ago in the House that something like 40% of the files actually had victim impact statements in them. Can you tell me if there is a victims complaints office, where one of those recommendations may have seen its end?

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    Ms. Mary Campbell: Yes, I think what I said was that 46 of the recommendations had been accepted by the government in whole or in part and many of the ones that didn't require legislation out of that group have been implemented, but this is clearly an incremental process.

    In relation to the victims recommendation, this is an area of high priority for the department and the agencies. There has indeed been a full-time position created at the national level. That person is co-located with the victim policy centre at the Department of Justice. It's been staffed certainly for over a year and that person has begun the work, at the national level, of ensuring some kind of national consistency. In the meantime, of course, victim coordinators and personnel have been active across the country, both at the National Parole Board and at Correctional Service, doing the work in the regions.

    I think Mr. Payette may want to speak a bit more to this, because we did then have consultations specifically with victims and victims groups to find out in a bit more detail what they wanted.

    It does seem from this that they need the information where they live. There's some value to having a national office, but it can't replace what goes on locally and in communities and close to where people live and need the information. But there is a position, a person, at the federal level, at this point.

¹  +-(1550)  

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    Mr. Kevin Sorenson: There is a private member's bill right now before the House. It is Bill C-402, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to establish an office of victims ombudsman of Canada.

    The purpose of this private member's bill...and I'll read the purpose, as stated. If enacted it establishes and defines the role of an independent office of victims ombudsman of Canada. It also states that “The function of the Victims Ombudsman will be to conduct investigations, reviews of the Correctional Service of Canada or the National Parole Board policies and studies into the problems of victims related to decisions” of the aforementioned.

    Do you think that is needed within our correction system?

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    Mr. Normand Payette: On that note, Mr. Sorenson, we did conduct cross-Canada consultations in 2001 with the victims groups. One of the results of the consultations was that victims weren't particularly attached to a notion of a central office. Their concern was with receiving information and also services in a timely manner.

    As I said, that question was put to them and they really did not hang their hat on that issue.

    As Ms. Campbell pointed out, in the regions every effort is constantly being made to make sure they receive the information and the services they want.

    I just thought I'd add that, Mr. Sorenson.

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    Mr. Kevin Sorenson: I want to give a quote from Steve Sullivan, who is the president of CRCVC. He says:

Bill C-19 offers little to crime victims that they do not already have. There are only two provisions that related directly to crime victims. ... Almost 4 years ago, the federal government made several promises to crime victims and Bill C-19 is silent on those commitments.

    Do you agree with that statement?

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    Ms. Mary Campbell: Well, I've had the pleasure of meeting with Mr. Sullivan a number of times over recent years and we've talked about the issues that were of concern to him and his organization. We've shared the progress that has been made in the agencies and the kind of priority this issue has had.

    As I say, the creation of a dedicated position is a significant step forward.

    As to what Parliament wishes to do further, we await the will of Parliament in that regard, but in the meantime, it's not that nothing is happening; many things are being done. The Correctional Service, of course, is under scrutiny constantly from many different aspects. So it's not a question of an organization not itself examining its practices and correcting itself--similarly for the National Parole Board.

    Things have not stood still. Many things are going on. Whether it's satisfactory for Mr. Sullivan, of course, only Mr. Sullivan can indicate that.

[Translation]

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mr. Rocheleau, you have seven minutes at your disposal.

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    Mr. Yves Rocheleau (Trois-Rivières, BQ): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your testimony. I have three questions for you.

    In May 2000 the subcommittee recommended that the paramountcy of the protection of society be established as the basic principle applicable to the Correctional Service and the National Parole Board. What is the status of this recommendation made by the committee? Has it been included in the act? What are the consequences of its inclusion? If it has been rejected, why? That is my first question.

    Secondly, what is the difference between unescorted and escorted temporary absences? What is the status of the work release provision, which seems to have been modified, if not completely repealed? What was the basis for offering these work releases and who offered them? How are the temporary absence and work release concepts to be combined in the act?

    Finally, its says that some offenders may be released after having served one-sixth of their sentence. It even says that in some cases the criminal investigations were longer than the period of incarceration served by some offenders. How can you explain this, in practice? Is this an exaggeration or are there several prisoners who only served one-sixth of their sentence in jail? Can this be reconciled with the basic principle, which is the paramountcy of the protection of society?

¹  +-(1555)  

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    Mr. Normand Payette: With your permission, I will begin with your last question.

    Parole after one-sixth of the sentence is really exceptional. This happens under the Accelerated Parole Review procedure. On the average, more often than not—and Ms. Campbell may be able to confirm this—offenders serve more than half their sentence before being paroled.

    Legally speaking, insofar as the ineligibility periods that are stipulated in the law, you are correct. This exists under the APR and for day parole. Being eligible for parole and being granted parole are two completely different things. As I said, the parole board absolutely has to be convinced that the offender will not pose an unacceptable risk for society and that his release will further his rehabilitation into society as a law-abiding citizen. That is the answer to your last question.

    Your second question dealt with the difference between unescorted and escorted temporary absences. Normally, absences are escorted and counsellor Laprade may be able to provide you with some further explanations. As far as I know, currently, most offenders aside from those who are serving a life sentence for murder have the right to be granted escorted temporary absences, especially to deal with administrative matters such as wills, etc., or to obtain medical care they need that is not available within penitentiaries. These absences are granted by Correctional Services Canada for the purposes mentioned in Section 17. Temporary absences are also granted for work.

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    Mr. Michel Laprade (Senior Counsel, Legal Services, Correctional Service Canada, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness): The difference between escorted temporary absences and unescorted absences is the following. Before an offender may be granted and unescorted temporary absence, he must serve a portion of his sentence. The situation is similar for day parole: the offender must serve a portion of his sentence before he can be considered for day parole. Unescorted temporary absences are not available in maximum security establishments. Consequently, all of the offenders who are incarcerated in such establishments are not entitled to them.

    However, offenders who are confined in any type of penitentiary may in certain cases be granted escorted temporary absences. These may be granted for medical or administrative reasons, among others. For instance, if an offender cannot receive the medical care he needs in the penitentiary, he may be taken to a hospital. By the same token, if he must appear in court for a civil matter, he may be granted a temporary escorted absence. However, for unescorted absences, the offender must have served a portion of his sentence, and he may not be considered for such absences if he is confined in a maximum security penitentiary.

    There is another distinction to be made. You mentioned work releases and the change we made to it. We integrated work releases and unescorted and escorted temporary absences. With regard to temporary absences for work purposes, the system we had put in place concerning work releases fell somewhere between the two systems, i.e. between unescorted temporary absences and escorted absences. People were a bit confused. So we decided to group all of these provisions in the same place. That was in fact what the committee had recommended, that work releases be included with temporary absences.

    Thus, we have a system for temporary absences for work purposes in the community or for community service, and we also have in the bill a system under which a maximum limit in terms of days per year is imposed on the offender who wants to avail himself of temporary absences of that nature.

º  +-(1600)  

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    Mr. Normand Payette: If I remember correctly, your first question dealt with the principle in paragraph 4(a) of the act according to which the protection of society is the paramount criterion to be considered in applying the correctional process. You wanted to know what had been done with this recommendation of the committee.

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    Mr. Yves Rocheleau: I wanted to know whether the government had included that recommendation.

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    Mr. Normand Payette: In light of the fact that it is the first principle stated and since the paramountcy issue is spelled out clearly in the principle, the government replied that in its humble opinion, it was not necessary.

[English]

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    The Chair: Thank you. That's all the time.

    I just had a déjà vu, moving the amendment to the original bill that moved public safety from I think number three on the list up to number one. However, that was 12 years ago, I think.

    In any event, we're very fortunate here today. We have a former Solicitor General who was the minister at the time the review was undertaken. We also have the chair of the subcommittee that reviewed the statute, and we have a very attentive opposition. So nothing is likely going to slide on by this afternoon.

    I'll start with Mr. DeVillers. He has seven minutes. He may wish to split his time.

    Mr. DeVillers.

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    Mr. Paul DeVillers (Simcoe North, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    Just as a couple of points, the legislative changes that are being made and that are within Bill C-19--the one codifying the right of victims to present statements at the National Parole Board hearings and the second one requiring CSC to review all statutory release cases for possible referral--are currently being done by policy. That's what we're being informed here. Is that in every case? And how has the practice, both in the case of the National Parole Board and CSC, worked out?

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    Ms. Mary Campbell: If I might, Mr. Chair, just speak to the question around the victims in particular, it's not only a matter of policy; it's being done in practice. It has been in practice for at least a year. It's an entitlement that is afforded to victims, so it's for the victim to identify if they wish to do it. Obviously there are many victims who do not choose to participate in the process. Victims have always had the entitlement to provide a written statement or to meet with board staff, and that practice continues as well.

    Victims who wish to provide a statement at the hearing are able to do so. There is some assistance given to the victim in terms of the most appropriate or useful things they may wish to include in that statement, things that speak to the impact of the crime on them, any continuing impacts of the crime on them, or any current security concerns they might have.

    My understanding is that although the numbers of victims who've chosen to do so have not been high, those who have done so have been very satisfied with the process. It's been of benefit to them just in terms of their own personal sense of closure, if you like, about the process and about the victimization. It has in fact gone very well, as far as I know.

    Perhaps Mr. Payette or Mr. Laprade would like to speak to the review by Correctional Services for detention conditions.

º  +-(1605)  

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    Mr. Normand Payette: With respect to the review of statutory release cases, it's been ongoing for the past couple of years. Mr. Laprade has just informed me that as a matter of fact, the review starts sometimes as much as 11 months before the entitlement to statutory release.

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    Mr. Michel Laprade: Yes. The policy requires that the review, in the case of statutory release, and the preparation of cases in the event of either detention or special conditions, must be started at least 11 months before. CSC is also looking at improving its capacity to do it in the cases of offenders having shorter sentences. The challenge is not so much on the long sentences, but on the shorter sentences you have to start working on that process very early in the sentence. In some cases, that's where CSC has to improve the flow of information and the reporting.

    The policy requires that it start 11 months before, and there's a review that's done up until the point of the statutory release date.

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    Hon. Paul DeVillers: At the time of the review by the subcommittee there was quite a controversy within the committee over whether it should be an automatic review by CSC or whether it should be an automatic review by the parole board--that there would not be statutory release, but at two-thirds all offenders would be granted a compulsory review by the parole board. As I say, there was quite a controversy, which I think led to a dissenting report from some of the opposition over the issue.

    The thinking at the time was that an offender, if they know that statutory release kicks in at two-thirds, if it's almost a right, subject to a detention hearing, will be less inclined to take the programming and to be cooperative within the particular institution. This was the solution that the majority of the committee went with, to have compulsory review by CSC.

    Has there been any feedback in the interim on how that has been received by the prison population? Has there been an improvement in attendance at programming, or is there still a sense amongst some that “I'm going to do my time, leave me alone, I'm getting out at two-thirds”?

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    Ms. Mary Campbell: I think you still see a wide range of reactions, and you'll always see that. We've seen consistently over the past decades better and better success rates of people who've been released conditionally, and that cuts across all forms of conditional release. You know, crimes committed by people out on parole...by any indication, the numbers are all headed in the right direction. It's hard to attribute that to any particular reason, but I think it tells us overall we have a system that is working well and we're on the right path.

    On the issue of motivating offenders, yes, a release date can act as a motivator, and one that appears perhaps to be more certain than another may be a greater motivator. But I think the system tries to dig a little bit deeper and tries to work with the offender to make sure the commitment to a law-abiding lifestyle goes a little deeper than just a date on a calendar. Are we at a perfect point with every offender in terms of getting them motivated? No. But we're certainly continuing to work very hard in terms of analyzing the needs and risks of every offender--so a tremendous amount of work goes on in terms of risk assessment--and in developing and tailoring the right programs and responses for each individual.

    At this point we have statutory release, which performs a really important function. There are a lot more controls on that release now than there were even 10 years ago.

º  +-(1610)  

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    Hon. Paul DeVillers: Yes, and this change does provide some of that motivation. They know there's going to be a close scrutiny before they're automatically released.

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    Ms. Mary Campbell: Exactly, yes.

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    Hon. Paul DeVillers: That gets to my next question about the number of full-time members of the National Parole Board going from 45 to 60. I'm just wondering, is that the appropriate number, given the workload the board faces?

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    Ms. Mary Campbell: The short answer is yes. Part of what you see in that amendment is an effort toward greater administrative efficiency, if you like, moving from using part-time board members to using more full-time board members, which is just a more efficient option.

    Board members are extremely conscientious. A lot of the cases they see now take a long time to do properly. I think those members of the committee, and certainly the subcommittee, who did the review were able to see, when you attended parole hearings, just how intensive that process is. It's not a question of board members taking 15 minutes with an offender and making a decision; it can take several hours if it has to.

    So part of it is just administrative efficiency, a better balance with full-time board members who essentially can give just a bit more bang for the dollar, and some of it just reflects the intensive nature of the parole hearings.

+-

    Hon. Paul DeVillers: Thank you.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. DeVillers.

    Mr. Sorenson, we'll go to three minutes now.

+-

    Mr. Kevin Sorenson: One policy--I don't know if it's one of the policies in our party, but it used to be one of the policies of the Canadian Alliance Party--was to repeal the statutory release provisions and make it contingent on good behaviour, as required by other conditional releases.

    This bill doesn't simply repeal that statutory release. And I guess one of my questions is, why not? Why not move to a position where we say we will base our absences, our leaves, our statutory releases simply on behaviour while within the penitentiary? It doesn't seem like such a tough plan.

    I think right now the only way they wouldn't qualify for statutory release is if there were fairly substantive knowledge that there would be a murder committed or a sexual offence would be committed against a child. Now, there is one more too, which I can't remember off the top of my head. There are three, I believe.

    Why not move to do that?

    The other question I have--and I do have a couple of them--is what, if any, changes in Bill C-19 have been made to the appeal process of the National Parole Board?

    I think one of the recommendations at one point in time was that there were some changes that needed to happen to the appeal process. If my memory serves me correctly, it dealt with parole board members who made the decision perhaps not to grant parole and then the same people would be sitting on the appeal board.

    Has there been any change there?

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    Ms. Mary Campbell: Let me just address your first question. That will give Mr. Payette and Mr. Laprade a chance to look at your second question. I recall the discussion you raised on that second question. I'll try to be brief on the first question.

    First of all, the majority recommendation of the subcommittee was to retain statutory release. I was there; it was a very controversial, very difficult discussion at times.

    The best way I can frame it is that the vast majority of people behind bars are coming back to the community. They are serving sentences of a definite length. Through no one's action, these people are coming back. That decision is made.

    The Canadian view has always been that at a certain point in the sentence we have to stop, consider that, and consider the best way to reintegrate the person back into the community, without ignoring what the offender has been doing in custody. Without completely dismissing that, we all need to take a deep breath and think about the best way to bring them back.

º  +-(1615)  

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    Mr. Kevin Sorenson: For whom? For the offender or for society?

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    Ms. Mary Campbell: For society.

    I'd make a couple of points.

    First of all, the research indicates that people who come out under conditions do better than people who come out free and clear.

    The second thing is, we see now in the U.S. a real shift back to a focus on prisoner re-entry—they're now calling it re-entry, not parole—and a lot of recognition that this is the best way of bringing people back. All offenders who are coming back need some period of support and supervision.

    That's a lot of the thinking that's going on at the two-thirds point in the sentence. I don't think offenders get a free ride at that point in the sentence. Their past behaviour is very closely examined.

    Why don't we just go to a discretionary decision? Ultimately that's a decision for Parliament to make. But the Canadian system has been founded on the view that if there are people who can be safely released at an earlier point, that's the appropriate decision. By the time we've reached the two-thirds point, we have a warrant expiry date staring us in the face. What is the best way—and by that I mean for the protection of society—to re-integrate that person? For the majority of offenders, it will be through a very closely supervised release.

    I came in at a time when people were released at the two-thirds point and were absolutely free and clear. There was no support, no supervision, nothing, at that point. The past 20 years have really just been a progression of tightening up that form of release to a point where it is quite restrictive now but still reflects the principle that people do better—and therefore society is safer—if they have that period.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mr. MacAulay, you may have three minutes.

    A voice: We didn't answer the other one.

    The Chair: Oh, okay, you want to fully answer another of Mr. Sorenson's questions.

+-

    Mr. Normand Payette: Would you like me to answer Mr. Sorenson's question?

+-

    The Chair: Since it's been asked, you had better answer it.

+-

    Mr. Normand Payette: If you take a look at clause 48 of the bill, Mr. Sorenson, I think it will answer your question. It increases the number of part-time members who can be appointed to the appeal division. The problem you alluded to, where a board member makes a first-instance decision and then sits on the appeal board to review that decision, can't happen any more. If you look at clause 48, once they're appointed to the appeal division, that's where they remain. I think that would be the answer to your question.

+-

    The Chair: Now, Mr. MacAulay, you have three minutes.

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    Hon. Lawrence MacAulay (Cardigan, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    First of all, having been the Solicitor General for a number of years and knowing Richard Zubrycki the way I did, it was certainly a shock for me too. I'm well aware of the work he put into this over the years and of the heart he had for Corrections, and of his concern for the inmate and concern for public safety in general. When Mary called me to tell me he had passed on, it was sad indeed, I can tell you.

    Richard Zubrycki is a man who's extremely difficult to replace, I can assure you, having been there. You could go on and on, for sure, because he went on and on whether he was paid or not. That's the way he lived. He was the NDP voice in the whole setup, as far as I was concerned.

    I don't have that many questions.

    All these reviews are taking place. When I was there, we were going to hire 1,000 new correctional officers. Has that been done? Are they in place?

    There's nothing that can be done, I'm sure, if somebody is not released at two-thirds of their sentence. There's still nothing we can do unless at the time they're sentenced there's an order to put supervision in place if they're released into society.

    I know it's a concern to the committee if somebody serves their full term. People will ask, if you're sentenced to eight years and you're out in six, why is it not eight instead of six? I fully understand why it's six instead of eight. In my view, it's a very serious situation when somebody is near—if I'm correct, and I believe I am; I'd like you to answer—to having served their full term, and there's nothing you can do but release them, unless they're sentenced at the time. That is much more serious than putting somebody on the street at six years with supervision for two years.

    That would be my view. I wonder if it's the view of the people from Corrections.

º  +-(1620)  

+-

    Ms. Mary Campbell: Thank you very much.

    Concerning the 1,000 new correctional officers, yes, they are in place and are doing a difficult job and doing it very well.

    As for post-sentence measures, you've re-emphasized the point that it's far better for public safety to put someone out when we have some control over them and can get them settled down and get them adapted.

    For those few offenders who go out at the end of sentence because they have been detained, there are a number of measures that have been put in place over the past decades to try to improve public safety.

    For example, for an offender who is released at the end of sentence and who presents concerns to experts in the system, information may be given to local police, if we know where the offender is headed. Those local police can use that information as they see fit. They may, in some cases, exercise their discretion to do what's called a “community notification”.

    There's also, of course, the range of what we call “810 orders”. These are orders that anyone can apply for, a type of peace bond. If there are concerns about the person's present dangerousness, an application can be made, and the person can be put under one of those orders for up to a year. It is renewable, and conditions can be placed on it.

    Originally there was just one order, section 810, and then three more were added over the past decade.

    There is, of course, the new sex offender registry, which was given royal assent very recently. Anyone who has been released into the community with a specified sex offence on their record will be required to register. That information will be available to police in the communities as well.

    It's fair to say a number of measures have been put in place recently to deal with people once the sentence has led to concern and where there is a current concern about dangerousness.

[Translation]

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mr. Rocheleau, you have three minutes.

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    Mr. Yves Rocheleau: I would like to know what is being done for the victims.

    Can they take part in the proceedings and the work of both the Correctional Service and the Parole Board? Do they have rights in the opinion of those organizations, and if that is the case, are they apprised of these rights? Are they entitled to appear, testify and make the members of the board aware of the effects—no doubt horrible in certain cases—of the crimes that were perpetrated against them, and so on? How are the victims treated?

+-

    Mr. Normand Payette: Firstly, as I said a little earlier, victims are entitled to make statements at parole hearings. Should they wish to make a statement, they advise the person who is responsible for that at the parole board. Afterwards they prepare a text and the person who is responsible at the board allows them to make their statement. Sometimes, when the victim cannot make that statement in person, he or she may do so through a recording, or in a video, for example.

    As for the participation of victims in the process, as I said earlier, in 2001, we undertook a countrywide consultation to collect victims' comments on the services they are given and how they felt these could be improved. We carefully noted what the victims told us.

    We also published a guide for victims in 2002. This guide explains the process to be followed if they want to make a statement, for instance. Sometimes, a victim wants to put an end to any communication with an offender and this guide explains how to do that. I forgot to mention earlier that the Department of Justice's Policy Centre for Victim Issues last month set up a training program for victims, correctional officers and parole board officers who provide services to victims. This was done in order to bring about improvements and to make correctional officers more aware of the needs of victims.

    I forgot to mention to Mr. Sorenson that Steve Sullivan was one of the facilitators. He was one of the people responsible for one of the modules in that session.

º  +-(1625)  

[English]

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    The Chair: No, it's three minutes. Je regrette.

    Next is Mr. Maloney, for three minutes--I will see Ms. Catterall later--and Mr. Charbonneau, and then back to the opposition.

    Mr. Maloney.

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    Mr. John Maloney (Erie—Lincoln, Lib.): On the issue of statutory releases, what criteria do CSC use to recommend further detention or to recommend further conditions? What is the process? Is there a committee that gets together and reviews a specific case? Is the process the same for a long-term offender designation?

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    Mr. Normand Payette: In terms of the criteria that are applied, there are a number of criteria. To begin with, the offender must have been convicted of an offence that is set out in schedule I of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, an offence that caused serious harm to a person. In order to refer the case of the offender to the National Parole Board for detention review, the correctional authorities who review the case must have reasonable grounds to believe that the offender will commit an offence that will cause serious harm to a person--again, a scheduled offence.

    Another criterion that is used is if the offender was convicted of an offence against a child. In this case, you don't have to make the case out that serious harm was caused. There's a presumption that because it was against a child, serious harm was caused.

    Maître Laprade can correct me if I'm wrong, but under the current legislation, if the offender was convicted of an offence against a child, then again the National Parole Board must have reasonable grounds to believe that this offender will commit a similar offence, the same offence, before the expiration of his or her sentence, in order to refer the case for detention review to the National Parole Board.

    There is a third class. This is regardless of whether the offender has been convicted of a schedule I offence or whether the offender has been convicted of an offence against a child. If the commissioner has reasonable grounds to believe that the offender will commit before the expiration of his or her sentence an offence that would cause death or serious harm to a person, then the commissioner can refer that case for detention review to the National Parole Board.

º  +-(1630)  

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    Mr. Michel Laprade: If I may add, Normand has explained the threshold criteria for the test, but in order to determine whether or not someone meets that test, the factors to be considered are in section 132 of the CCRA. They include the determination of whether or not there is a pattern of persistent violent behaviour from the offender; the number of offences the offender may have committed and the harm he has caused; the seriousness of the offence; the reliable information we have; and the use of weapons in the commission of the offence. The list is there, including a sexual offence against a child.

    Those are factors that are taken into account in determining whether or not someone reaches that level or degree of this threshold, to be confident or have reasonable grounds to believe the offender is likely to commit another offence of the same nature. It is a very long list of factors that is taken into account. The factors include psychiatric and psychological reports and all kinds of assessments that have been made. They are not made by one individual in particular. They're made by a complete team of individuals working together on a file.

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    Mr. John Maloney: What about for the long term? Are they the same criteria?

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    Mr. Michel Laprade: The long-term supervision offenders don't fall outside this, but it's a different thing. This goes on during the offender's sentence. Before the statutory release date, CSC uses the criteria and the factors to determine whether or not to impose special conditions or detention on the offender.

    For example, if they are dealing with an offender who has been declared by a court to be a long-term supervision offender, an offender who is going to be subject to long-term supervision after his sentence, the long-term supervision will not start until the expiry of the sentence. At that point, and before that point, the conditions and special needs required for supervision in the community are determined. The same type of analysis is done, but not at the time of statutory release.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mr. Sorenson, for three minutes.

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    Mr. Kevin Sorenson: When we talk about thresholds, releasing people, and statutory release, the facts are very clear. Somewhere in the act I recall reading that unless there is conclusive proof the offender will commit another murder, commit a murder or a sexual act against a child, or the other offence, they let him go. When the statutory release time comes up, there are very few people who are really held.

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    Mr. Normand Payette: Excuse me. When you said “let him go”, what did you mean?

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    Mr. Kevin Sorenson: He's let out on issue of statutory release.

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    Mr. Normand Payette: He's put under supervision with conditions.

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    Mr. Kevin Sorenson: He's still under supervision with conditions, but very few are denied statutory release. Isn't that a fact?

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    Ms. Mary Campbell: I don't have the numbers in front of me, but the numbers annually, I think, show that around 200 to 250 offenders are given a detention order each year to remain in custody until the very end. The intention of Parliament in creating the detention provisions and the test—the detention provisions were created back in the late 1980s—was that it was intended to be an exceptional process. There was recognition that the best method, meaning the most effective in terms of public safety, was to release the person under control and supervision.

    We talked about numbers in 1986 when we gave Parliament the detention legislation. What was the right number? We made an educated guess as to how many people in the system we thought would be affected by it, but there is no magic number. It is a case-by-case assessment. It is intended to be exceptional, because you are delaying the release until the last day of sentence. You can imagine what it's like for people, particularly those who have served a considerable amount of time, to simply find themselves on the sidewalk with a bus ticket and a little cash in their pockets. This is not the best way to protect the public of Canada.

    I have the wording of the test here. It is the section where the board is satisfied the offender will not commit an offence involving serious harm or murder or a serious drug offence. That's the test.

º  +-(1635)  

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    Mr. Kevin Sorenson: That's 200 out of how many thousand? It's thousands who are--

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    Ms. Mary Campbell: Again, I can only say that there is no magic number. The right number is an individualized approach that ensures, in every case, the right decisions are being made to ensure public safety in relation to that offender.

    There are roughly 6,000 to 7,000 people released from penitentiary every year, through a variety of means, whether it's parole, statutory release, or warrant expiry. The objective of the system is to identify those offenders who present the very highest risk, and where the risk simply cannot be managed in society, that person will be detained until the end.

+-

    Mr. Kevin Sorenson: Can I ask a question? This comes from our research department here, but recommendation 23 in the “A Work in Progress: The Corrections and Conditional Release Act”, the subcommittee report, said that:

The Sub-committee recommends that the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the Corrections and Conditional Release Regulations be amended to provide a complete legal foundation for the continued existence of the special handling unit and the transfer, review and monitoring measures to which it is subject in its day-to-day operation. Provision should be made in these amendments for representation from outside the Correctional Service on the Special Handling Unit National Review Committee.

    First of all, I understand the special handling unit is just a one-unit deal in Quebec somewhere. Is that correct? And can you tell us a little bit of what it is, and has this recommendation been implemented?

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    Ms. Mary Campbell: First of all, yes, there is one special handling unit at this time, and it's located in the Quebec region, and this might be something that we could provide a little bit of information to the committee about, either in writing or at a further appearance. The special handling unit is designed to provide very high-secure units for those inmates who are unable, for at least a period of time, to function even in an ordinary maximum security penitentiary. They may, for example, have committed assaults on other inmates. They may in fact have committed assaults on staff, but for at least a period of time they need to be in some form of very tight control. The objective always is to try to work with that offender and get them back into at least a maximum security penitentiary.

    In terms of recommendation 23, the response of the government at the time was that it did not appear necessary to make further legal provisions beyond what existed at that point, so that's all I can tell you at this stage.

    In terms of additional measures that may have been taken in practice, perhaps Mr. Payette or Mr. Laprade would have something to add.

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    Mr. Normand Payette: If I'm not mistaken, the Correctional Service of Canada currently is reviewing its maximum security programs with a view to addressing the needs of this particular class of offenders. They are conducting a review, and I don't remember the particulars, but just so you know, in terms of the SHU inmates, I think there are currently around 61 who are held in that unit.

    As I said, they are reviewing their programs, and as Ms. Campbell said, it's with a view to trying to reintegrate them into the regular stream of the population as much as possible.

+-

    Mr. Kevin Sorenson: Thank you.

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    The Chair: Because the matter has evolved out of a recommendation in the subcommittee's report, and because Mr. Sorenson has asked a question, and because our research staff are interested in this subject area, I'm going to ask the department to provide a written response to Mr. Sorenson's question, and it should be directed to the clerk, who will then distribute it, and that will probably get us where we want to be.

    Is this a follow-up on that issue?

º  +-(1640)  

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    Hon. Paul DeVillers: As I recall, the subcommittee's position at the time was that there wasn't a legislative or regulatory authorization for the operation of the SHU and this was why that recommendation was made.

    I heard Ms. Campbell give the government's answer, but I think it would be good to get more information on that.

+-

    The Chair: I knew nothing was going to slip on by here today.

    That's fine.

    Now, we'll move to Ms. Catterall, and Mr. Charbonneau.

    Ms. Catterall, please.

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    Ms. Marlene Catterall (Ottawa West—Nepean, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    I have two questions. On the right of victims to give a victim impact statement, at what point in the process are they informed of their right to do that? When a review starts, partway through, five days before? Is there anything in the legislation that requires certain notification to the victims of that right?

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    Ms. Mary Campbell: Victims are notified...or I don't want to use the term “notified”, because it connotes quite a formal process. A decision was made, which is reflected in the bill....

    You know, some victims just don't want to be informed of what's going on. They have moved to a different place in their lives, if you like. So there isn't a process of automatic notification, but through outreach and public education we try to ensure that people know they can have input.

    In a number of places in the bill, it states that Correctional Services and the National Parole Board “shall” take into consideration any information received from victims, and that's information at any point. It may have come from a victim impact statement at sentencing, for example, or the victim may desire, right from the outset of a sentence, to ensure that they are having input at regular stages. They also then can ask to be notified of all decision points that are coming up. If they've chosen that path, they will be notified that, for example, the offender is going to be reviewed for parole. So if they have something they particularly want to say at that point, they'll have the specific opportunity.

    At any stage, of course, they can contact either the service or the parole boards to communicate their views.

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    Ms. Marlene Catterall: I am somewhat concerned that a right is really only a right if somebody is obliged to tell you that you have that right, and not just generally, through general knowledge in the population, but much more specifically.

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    Ms. Mary Campbell: Yes, it's been a difficult issue. As I say, there was just never any consensus from victims themselves that they wanted to be automatically notified. For some victims this would be quite upsetting in the worst-case scenario, and for some it's just not information they wish to have. The balance that has been struck so far is through really a public education front, to try to make sure they do know.

    Once they've indicated that they want to be informed, then it's absolutely required to happen. If there's a better way to make victims aware of this.... I think everyone would agree that this is important.

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    Ms. Marlene Catterall: Okay. I may want to come back to that, but I only have two or three minutes.

    I think I also heard you say that a sex offender must register with the national registry on being released. Is that what you indicated?

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    Ms. Mary Campbell: In a nutshell, Bill C-16 requires that if, at the time of sentencing, the sex offender has been given an order by the court to register, then they must register. The obligations flow from that order by the court.

    There's a process as well for the retroactive people, if you like, where if they are served with a notice that they're required to register, then their obligations will flow from that.

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    Ms. Marlene Catterall: Would there be any objection to the obligation being on CSC to notify the registry when somebody who's obliged to register is released? Because that's one way of making darn sure it happens.

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    Ms. Mary Campbell: We're just working on the implementation of the registry now. CSC is working very closely on that process, as are the provincial correctional systems. Some of these people will be coming out of provincial prisons as well.

    So they're working very closely with provincial officials, who will administer the registry, in terms of making sure there's a system in place to notify the appropriate people.

º  +-(1645)  

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    Ms. Marlene Catterall: But the opportunity's in front of us here, with Bill C-19, to do that.

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    Ms. Mary Campbell: Those measures are contained in Bill C-16 to ensure that this will happen.

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    Ms. Marlene Catterall: Except I think what you've told me, with all respect, is that there's no obligation on the releasing institution to notify the registry. Frankly, that's something I might like to address here rather than leave it to the will of the person who has to register.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you. We'll make note of that, or at least Mr. Rosen will certainly make note of that. Of course, all of us parliamentarians have our eye on the number of parliamentary days that may or may not be available to us.

    I have indications from both Mr. Sorenson and Mr. Charbonneau.

    I have to go to you first, Mr. Sorenson, but Mr. Charbonneau has a very specific list of questions. Would you be willing to let him go first?

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    Mr. Kevin Sorenson: Sure, go ahead.

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    The Chair: Mr. Charbonneau.

[Translation]

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    Hon. Yvon Charbonneau (Anjou—Rivière-des-Prairies, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    First, I would like to reply briefly to the comments made earlier by Kevin who said that we were introducing an important bill at the last minute. He used the expression “window dressing”. I would like to remind my colleague that the committee was very busy drafting a report on a very important issue, that of the process used to appoint judges to the Supreme Court of Canada. The committee could have taken much more time. In fact, that is what we were urged to do. We nevertheless did this work as quickly as possible in order to be able to move on to something else.

    Also, it might be preferable to have two committees, one for justice and another for security matters. The number of topics on the agenda justifies the existence of two committees, but there is only one. We have to do a great deal in a short period of time. We can't very well stop working two weeks before the date on which we expect the session to end just in case it looks bad if we have things to do at the last minute. We have to work up until the end.

    That being said, I would like to ask our witnesses to comment this matter of the paramountcy of the protection of society, the principle which was discussed by the subcommittee.

    We could decide to take all possible means to make it as difficult and as long as possible for offenders to obtain parole. In that way, we protect society. Nevertheless, this seems like a very narrow perspective to me. It seems to me that it would be more appropriate to take it as a given that some repression is necessary—for instance, offenders must be confined to penitentiaries—but that it is also necessary to prepare them for rehabilitation into society. Indeed, adequate rehabilitation is also a way of protecting society.

    There are certain inherent risks to rehabilitation procedures, and they must be assessed very carefully. It can happen that mistakes are made, but generally speaking, things go well and society is better protected than when we are too rigorous. Even if we wait for the offender to have served his entire sentence before releasing him, he is released without being prepared to reintegrate society. In that case, there is a problem.

    How do you view this principle of the paramountcy of the protection of society? Do we respect it? Will this bill further it? What interpretation of the protection of society is set out in the bill?

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    Mr. Normand Payette: The underlying principles on which the law is based remain unchanged. I gave an overview of the bill. You can see that the proposed amendments are in keeping with the principles. Insofar as the APR, the Accelerated Parole Review system is concerned, which I referred to before, we wanted to tighten up the process in order to ensure better protection of society. The same principle is behind the measure requiring that the Correctional Service examine the case of all offenders 11 months before the date of their statutory release.

    The bill is based on the same principles. As I said earlier to Mr. Rocheleau, that is really the first principle to be expressed in section 4 and the corresponding section for the National Parole Board.

    Ms. Campbell may have something to add.

º  +-(1650)  

[English]

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    Ms. Mary Campbell: I would just note the government's response to recommendation one, the point about making protection of society a stand-alone principle. The government said:

It is noted that the Committee

--that is to say, the review committee--

did not find that this principle was not being respected and implemented in federal correctional programs.

    So the review committee at the time was quite clear, I think, that the principle was there and was being respected.

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    The Chair: I'll look to Mr. Sorenson and then Mr. DeVillers.

+-

    Mr. Kevin Sorenson: I talked about rushing this bill through now, and we've had four years to do it. We had the subcommittee's recommendations four years ago. We've brought letter after letter about going back. Before Mr. Charbonneau came to this committee there was a letter to this committee asking that we come back and check the recommendations, especially those dealing with statutory release, to see how many.... That was always denied or put off. There was always lots to do--same-sex marriage, the selection process for justices. Those were listed as reasons why we didn't have time at that point.

    On escorted temporary absences and unescorted temporary absences, I'm still not clear what this thing is doing in combining them with work releases. I visited a prison where some of the correctional officers mentioned they felt that these unescorted temporary absences were being misused--and they used the words--in cascading people down through the system.

    An example they gave was that an aboriginal group would come and set up just outside the gates of the prison. They would have counselling, or whatever, in that little setup. The people who left would just go outside the prison gates and they would be marked as having unescorted temporary absences. That would happen many different times. They probably received a good program. I have no idea about the program that was going on there.

    But this correctional officer felt that this was being done so it could be noted in the file that someone had four unescorted temporary absences and nothing happened during those absences, so that showed he should be moved down through the system. I've heard different stories about these things being misused to move people through the system too quickly.

    I could throw my pencil from the prison gates to where this counselling deal was being set up, in a tent or whatever, for this particular group. But on the file it just showed that this individual had four or six unescorted temporary absences and nothing happened; he came back. So if he had four or six unescorted temporary absences without any cause for concern, perhaps he should be cascaded through the system.

    You're combining the work releases.... We know they're judged on the work releases. They report on what was done, and all this, but how does this change anything?

º  +-(1655)  

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    Ms. Mary Campbell: I have a few comments in response.

    First of all, every inmate is required to have a correctional plan at the outset. They have a blueprint for what the problems are, what the risks are, and what they need to be working on. The release eligibility dates are obviously part of that plan, and the plan is individualized. Again, there's no magic number. You don't get x number of escorted absences or unescorted absences the way you would get a coffee card--you finally get the right number and get out.

    Some inmates who are high risk and high need are subject to a very gradual and controlled release plan that most likely starts with a series of escorted passes. If, and only if, that is successful, it is followed by a series of unescorted passes. But again, it's tailored to the individual offender. Some offenders may move through it more quickly because they present a lower risk, but each case is taken individually.

    I appreciate the correctional officer's concern, and I hope the file would reflect the nature of the unescorted passes in those cases, so it was clear it wasn't just that the person had four passes and came back each time and therefore they were successful. We do keep track of offenders coming back. As you know, the success rate is over 99%, but that's not the only measure. We track what the passes were for, what the offender did while he or she was on the pass, what the results of that were, and how that fits in terms of the programming they're doing inside and other treatment.

    On the reforms to that program in Bill C-19, again it's trying to achieve the best balance in that very gradual and controlled approach, prior to being considered for parole. I think sometimes it was a bit confusing, with work release being a separate program. If the person had been out on unescorted passes and then they applied for a work release, who was making the decision, and how did those two mesh together? The feeling at the end of the day seemed to be that if they were all under one roof, if you like, with the different purposes specified, that would be a more effective and coherent approach to managing the program.

    Prior to the creation of work releases, of course, offenders were going out doing very good community work on what were really work releases. When work releases were created, some of that function was put under one part of the act. There was the view that with some experience--the program was working well and there was nothing wrong with the content of it--it would make for more effective and efficient decision-making if there were different purposes under one roof of absence.

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    The Chair: Thank you for that.

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    Mr. Kevin Sorenson: Does it save any money?

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    Ms. Mary Campbell: I'm not aware of any cost savings. The thinking, on analysis, was that it made more sense to have the decision-making in a more coherent way in statute and in practice.

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    Mr. Kevin Sorenson: Good.

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    The Chair: Okay, thank you.

    Mr. DeVillers.

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    Hon. Paul DeVillers: Thank you.

    Contrary to Mr. Sorenson's twice raising the concern of a government conspiracy to bring this bill in just before an election so we can appear to be getting tough on crime, my question deals with one of the recommendations on administrative segregation and the inmates' human rights on getting reviews of those segregations.

    The recommendation was to provide adjudication by independent chairpersons appointed by the Solicitor General, as part of an inmate discipline process, for involuntary segregation over 30 days and for voluntary segregation over 60 days. The government's response was to propose an enhanced segregation review process that included external membership. This model would attempt to balance independent adjudication with the promotion of appropriate operational accountability by Correctional Service Canada. This model would be implemented on a pilot basis in all regions, and a detailed independent evaluation would be undertaken. The development of the pilot might be guided by a steering committee comprised of internal and external members. Has that been completed? If so, what are the results?

»  -(1700)  

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    Ms. Mary Campbell: There was an enhanced segregation review process. It was implemented on a pilot basis. I don't have the evaluations of the pilots with me, but I could undertake to provide them to the committee in writing.

    I think it's fair to say that the issue continues to be a live one. There continues to be discussion of it at the ministry. There has been some further comment in other review body reports. I'm thinking here of the Canadian Human Rights Commission report on the complaints with respect to women offenders.

    I could provide the status of that in writing to the committee, if that's agreeable. I do want to indicate that it continues to be a live issue.

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    Hon. Paul DeVillers: Yes. The subcommittee's concern at the time was the arbitrariness of that segregation.

    Thank you.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    I don't see further initiatives for questions. I believe there are two items the witnesses have agreed to provide to the committee later.

    I will point out for the record that this is a referral to this committee before second reading, which of course widens the ambit of the committee for amendments should they ensue.

    The second technical thing I should mention is that the bill was first introduced in the House of Commons sometime in 2003. It was originally Bill C-40, and it has been reintroduced in this session.

    I'll also acknowledge the remarks made in praise of Mr. Zubrycki's career and work here. Some of us may want to call the bill the “Zubrycki bill”, but many officials, organizations, and parliamentarians made contributions to bring us this far over the last few years. But I certainly acknowledge Mr. Zubrycki's role on behalf of committee members. The record should show that.

    I thank the officials for coming today. We have an additional meeting scheduled for this Thursday. The chair is currently looking at the depth we're hoping to have at that meeting. I'll be consulting with members on that.

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    Mr. Kevin Sorenson: Do you mean regarding Bill C-19?

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    The Chair: Yes. That will be two days from now.

    Thanks to the witnesses.

    The meeting is adjourned.