PM Announces Further Steps to Protect Canadian Families From Repeat Violent Offenders
Victoriaville, Quebec – Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced the Government’s intent, in keeping with the commitment made in the 2013 Speech from the Throne, to introduce legislation to further protect Canadian families by ending the practice of automatic early release for repeat violent offenders. The Prime Minister made the announcement following a roundtable discussion with victims of crime held in Victoriaville, Quebec. He was joined by Steven Blaney, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Denis Lebel, Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu, and Alain Rayes, Mayor of Victoriaville.
Under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA), federal offenders serving fixed-term sentences are allowed to serve the final third of their sentence in the community under supervision and subject to conditions.
The Government has determined that this is the wrong approach when it comes to repeat violent offenders. Therefore, under the proposed legislation, repeat violent offenders will no longer be granted statutory release after serving two-thirds of their sentence. These measures reflect the Government of Canada’s ongoing commitment to keep our streets and communities safe while ensuring that the rights of victims are placed over those of criminals.
- Statutory release (SR) is a presumptive release by law at the two-thirds mark of a fixed sentence, and takes effect automatically unless the Parole Board of Canada determines that the offender is likely to commit another serious offence.
- Under SR, eligible federal offenders serve the final third of their sentence in the community, under supervision and subject to conditions which can include a residency condition (i.e., reside at a ‘halfway-house’). Only offenders serving determinate (i.e., fixed-term) sentences are eligible for SR, whereas inmates serving a life sentence or an indeterminate sentence are always ineligible.
- The proposed amendments to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act would seriously restrict statutory release for repeat federal offenders who have previously received a prison sentence of five years or more that includes a serious violent component.
- The amendments will allow repeat offenders to be exposed to correctional programming in penitentiaries for a longer period of time to change behaviour which contributes to reoffending.
- These changes complement other tough on crime actions introduced by our Government, including:
– Tougher prison sentences for sexual offences against children, serious gun crimes, impaired driving, and selling drugs to children;
– Providing the courts with the discretion to end sentence discounts for multiple murders; and,
– Repealing the Faint Hope Clause which allowed offenders serving a life sentence with a parole ineligibility period of more than 15 years to apply for parole after serving 15 years in prison.
- The roundtable discussion also focused on amendments to the Criminal Code related to the Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act, and the corollary amendments that this will bring to the Canada Evidence Act, the Sex Offender Information Registration Act, and the High Risk Child Sex Offender Database Act.
“It is unacceptable that Canadians fall prey to violent offenders, who have benefitted from early release after repeatedly committing violent crimes. Our Government is committed to protecting Canadian families by ensuring that statutory release provisions are used with greater discipline and that violent offenders are kept off the streets and out of our communities.” – Prime Minister Stephen Harper