Frequently Asked Questions


This page is intended to provide general information and is specific to the time when it is first issued. Please keep in mind that the OPB’s staff cannot provide you with legal advice.

If you wish to obtain legal advice, you should consult a person licensed by the Law Society of Upper Canada (www.lsuc.on.ca).

General

What is parole?

Parole is the early release of an applicant from a correctional institution into the community under the supervision of a Probation and Parole Officer. Parole is an opportunity for an applicant to serve the remainder of their sentence in the community under certain conditions.

Who is an applicant?

An applicant is the person who committed an offence and for whom parole is being considered. In other settings, applicants may be referred to as “offenders” or “inmates”.

What is temporary absence?

The Temporary Absence program allows an applicant to be away from the institution, without escort, for a defined period of time (up to sixty days).

Temporary absence is an opportunity for an applicant to prepare themselves for release into the community and may be granted to help the applicant with their rehabilitation and successful reintegration into the community or for medical or humanitarian reasons. Temporary absence can be requested without having applied for parole or after parole has been denied.

Who is a victim?

A victim is a person who suffers physical, financial or emotional harm as a result of an offence(s). If a victim is under 16 years of age, a parent or guardian can be considered a victim. If a victim is unable to present a statement at a parole hearing (for example: if they are deceased or sick) the following people may represent the victim:

  • Spouse or common law partner of the victim;
  • Family member of the victim;
  • Parent or guardian of the victim, or a dependant of the victim.
What is a parole hearing?

A parole hearing is a proceeding before the OPB to determine whether an applicant can safely be released from custody back into the community before the natural expiry of their custodial sentence. During the parole hearing, applicants are given an opportunity to tell the OPB why they should be granted parole.

For more information on parole hearings, please see OPB’s Applications and Hearings section here.

What is a circle hearing?

A Circle hearing is an alternative method to a mainstream parole hearing and is conducted with the same desired outcome, which is to determine if an applicant is suitable for reintegration within the community.

For more information on circle hearings, please see OPB’s Circle Hearings section here.

What is the purpose of a parole hearing?

The purpose of the hearing is to assist the OPB in determining whether parole should be granted by obtaining information directly from the applicant and other participants. If parole is denied, the applicant will be informed of the reasons parole was denied.

Are hearings open to the public?

Yes. Individuals who wish to attend a hearing as an observer must submit an Observer Application form to the OPB.

The number of observers allowed to attend a hearing will be based upon the size of the hearing room and the security concerns of the institution. Approval to attend will be granted in chronological order of application, with the victim, victim support person and applicant assistants being given priority.

For more information on attending a parole hearing, please see OPB’s Applications and Hearings section here.

Are decisions publicly available?

The OPB does not automatically make its decisions available to the public. A person who wants a parole decision must submit a freedom of information request to the OPB.

Applicants

When is an applicant eligible for parole?

An applicant is eligible for parole after completing one-third of their sentence. This is called the Parole Eligibility Date (PED). If an applicant is serving a sentence of six months or more, by law, they will automatically be scheduled for a parole hearing. If the applicant is serving a sentence of less than six months, they must apply if they want to be considered for parole.

For more information on parole eligibility, please see OPB’s Applications and Hearings section here.

Is parole guaranteed?

No. Parole is never guaranteed.

Where are parole hearings held?

Parole hearings take place inside correctional institutions where the applicant is serving their sentence. If the applicant waives their right to participate in a parole hearing, the OPB will consider all relevant information on file and make a decision from their office and will not attend the correctional institution.

When does the OPB make its decision?

The OPB may take a few days to come to a decision or it may make a decision immediately at the end of the hearing. Once a decision is made, applicants will receive the decision in writing immediately.

Victims

What is a Victim Submission?

Victims may provide a written submission or attend the applicant’s parole hearing and give an oral statement. Victims may, but are not required, to give an oral statement if they attend a parole hearing. Victims may also provide information to an OPB Case Management Officer who will ensure the OPB members receive the information before making a decision.

A victim submission is the victim’s opportunity to tell the OPB about the physical, financial and emotional impact the offence has had on them, their family, and their community.

For more information on victim support, please see OPB’s Victims of Crime section here.

What is the Ontario Victim Support Line?

In addition to reading the Victim Guide, victims can contact the Ministry of the Attorney General’s Ontario Victim Support Line to discuss a specific parole applicant. Victims can find out whether an applicant has a scheduled parole hearing or whether that applicant has been released. Victims may also call for information on local victim supports and services, or for general information on the criminal justice system.

ONTARIO VICITIM SUPPORT LINE:

Tel.: 416-314-2447

Toll Free Tel.: 1-888-579-2888

For more information on victim support, please see OPB’s Victims of Crime section here.