Frequently Asked Questions - General
If you have questions that are not listed below, or for more information, please contact the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) toll-free at 1-866-806-2275 or by email.
- Q1: How does a victim receive information about the offender who harmed them?
- Q2: Is the offender notified when a victim registers?
- Q3: Can someone else receive information for a victim?
- Q4: Does a victim's registration ever expire?
- Q5: Can victims share the impact of the crime with CSC or PBC?
- Q6: Can victims request no contact from an offender?
- Q7: Can a victim find out about the institution where the offender is placed?
- Q8: What happens when an offender first enters a federal institution?
- Q9: What programs are available to federal offenders?
- Q10: Why are offenders transferred to different institutions?
- Q11: How is an offender released into the community?
- Q12: Can victims attend PBC hearings?
- Q13: Can victims receive financial assistance to attend PBC hearings?
- Q14: How can victims obtain information about a PBC decision?
- Q15: What services are available to victims harmed by a family member?
- Q16: If an offender in custody is awaiting deportation, what information can be disclosed to a victim?
- Q17: How can registered victims file a complaint about the services they have received from CSC?
- Q18: What is Victim-Offender Mediation?
How does a victim receive information about the offender who harmed them?
If you are a victim of crime and you want to receive information about an offender, you must request it in writing from CSC or Parole Board of Canada (PBC). In order to complete your registration, you must submit a written request or complete and sign an Application to Receive Information as a Victim and send it to CSC or PBC. You can register as a victim or authorize someone else in writing to act as your representative.
Is the offender notified when a victim registers?
No. Offenders do not have the right to be notified if you register to receive information from CSC or PBC.
Can someone else receive information for a victim?
Yes. If you do not want to receive information directly, you can identify in writing a representative or agent to receive the information on your behalf.
Does a victim's registration ever expire?
Registration for victims to receive information does not expire. The file may be inactivated if any of the following situations occur:
- The offender's sentence expires. However, if the offender receives a subsequent federal sentence, you will be notified and asked if you want to receive ongoing information again.
- You advise CSC or PBC, in writing, that you no longer want to receive information about the offender.
- The offender dies while incarcerated or under CSC supervision in the community.
Keep in mind that if you change your address or telephone number(s), be sure to update your contact information with CSC.
Can victims share the impact of the crime with CSC or PBC?
Yes. You are encouraged to provide a Victim Statement describing how a crime has affected you – emotionally, physically and financially. It is given to the judge and used in sentencing if the accused is found guilty or pleads guilty. If one was submitted prior to sentencing, a victim impact statement may be on CSC's offender's file and may be considered prior to temporary absences or parole.
CSC considers this information through the course of the offender's sentence in:
- Decisions related to the offender's institutional security level;
- Decisions about whether the offender should be released on a temporary absence or a work release;
- Evaluations of the offender's programming needs and overall risk of re-offending; and
- Recommendations to PBC about whether the offender should be granted conditional release and what special conditions, if any, should be placed on the offender.
A victim can provide information about an offender to CSC anonymously by calling 1-866-780-3784 any time of the day or night, or you can submit a Victim Statement.
PBC uses victim information in:
- Decisions with respect to community releases (unescorted temporary absences, day parole, full parole, statutory release) that may or may not have special conditions imposed.
Your personal information, such as your address and telephone number, will not be made available to the offender. However, the law requires that CSC and PBC disclose to offenders any information, including information from victims that will be considered when they make decisions on such things as an offender's parole application, conditions of release, etc.
You can submit a victim statement anytime during the offender's sentence. However, to present a victim statement at a parole hearing, victims must complete and sign a Request to Present a Victim Statement at a Hearing Form and submit it to PBC.
Can victims request no contact from an offender?
Yes. You can request that an offender have no contact or communication with you at various times during the criminal justice process. In order of sequence:
Role of courts:
Anytime during the court process, the sentencing judge can issue an order prohibiting the offender from communicating, directly or indirectly, with any person, victim or witness. This order comes to an end when the offender is sentenced.
Role of CSC:
Anytime during the incarceration of an offender under CSC jurisdiction, you can submit a written request to CSC requesting that an offender be prevented from communicating with you or your family. As well, an offender may be prevented from communicating with members of the public by mail or telephone when:
- The Institutional Head or designate believes, on reasonable grounds, that the safety of any person, both in the institution and the community would be jeopardized; or
- The Institutional Head or designate is satisfied that the intended recipient of the communication, or the parent or guardian of an intended recipient who is a minor, does not want to receive communications from the inmate.
Role of PBC:
You can submit a written request to PBC asking that a "no contact condition" be included as part of an offender's "release conditions". PBC may impose special conditions, in addition to those standard conditions as set out in the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, on any conditional or statutory release. This might include a special condition not to have any contact with a particular person.
No contact at Warrant Expiry (End of full sentence):
Under the law, an offender must be released on the last day - or warrant expiry date (WED) of their sentence. An offender release at WED means that the offender has served the full length of their sentence and that their sentence has come to end. At this time, CSC and PBC no longer have the authority to impose any release conditions. If CSC has reasonable grounds to believe that the offender may pose a threat to someone in society, CSC can inform the police of the date when an offender will be released. With the information given by CSC, police services can apply to the courts to ask for a "peace bond" under section 810 of the Criminal Code. A "peace bond" can include various conditions, including a "no contact" condition. A "peace bond" is a court order that allows the police to protect the public by requiring an individual who poses a threat to society to abide by specific conditions for up to one year. You can contact your local police services or victim services to find out more about Peace Bonds.
Can a victim find out about the institution where the offender is placed?
Yes. You can find out more about CSC institutions on the Regions and Facilities page of CSC's website.
What happens when an offender first enters a federal institution?
When an offender first enters a CSC institution, he or she undergoes a full assessment and referral process to address his or her program and security needs. This may include medical, psychological, psychiatric, employment and educational assessments. The assessment will also determine in which institution the offender is placed. For more information, please read CSC's Intake Assessment Process policy.
What programs are available to federal offenders?
CSC provides programs designed to address the needs of the offender and contribute to their successful reintegration into the community. Programs address issues including substance abuse, anger management, etc. For more information about correctional programs, consult CSC's website.
Why are offenders transferred to different institutions?
Offenders may be transferred to a different institution for a number of reasons:
- To respond to reassessed security needs,
- To access programs or services,
- To conduct an assessment,
- To facilitate a court appearance,
- To ensure the safety of inmates and staff,
- To place an offender in an Aboriginal Healing Lodge, or
- To separate co-convicted offenders under certain circumstances.
For more information on institutional transfers, please read CSC's Transfer of Offenders Policy.
How is an offender released into the community?
Law and policy determine if and when CSC can release eligible federal offenders into the community under various types of conditional release: temporary absence, day parole, full parole, statutory release or accelerated parole review. In each case offenders are subject to strict monitoring and control. Conditions may include regular meetings with a parole officer, curfews or drug testing.
Public safety is the number one consideration in all decisions related to an offender's release. If an offender's risk becomes unmanageable in the community, his or her release will be suspended, and in many cases, revoked by PBC or conditions will be imposed.
By law, CSC must release offenders who have reached the warrant expiry date of their sentence.
Can victims attend PBC hearings?
Yes. Members of the general public who are 18 years of age and older, victims and their families and supporters, offenders' families and supporters, and media representatives may attend PBC hearings. To observe a PBC hearing, complete and sign a Request to Observe a Hearing Form and submit it to PBC.
Can victims receive financial assistance to attend PBC hearings?
The Victim's Fund offers financial assistance if you wish to attend PBC hearings about the offender who harmed you. Financial assistance is also available for a support person to accompany you to hearings or to provide child or dependent care to assist you to attend hearings. For more information please visit the Department of Justice Victim's Fund page.
How can victims obtain information about a PBC decision?
You can request a PBC decision, and the reasons for the decision, through the PBC's Registry of Decisions. These decisions relate to conditional release, an offender's return to an institution or detention, as well as decisions and reasons of PBC's Appeal Division.
To request a PBC decision please submit a Request for Decision Registry form. You don't have to be a registered victim to request a PBC decision as they are available to any member of the public.
What services are available to victims harmed by a family member?
If an offender in custody is awaiting deportation, what information can be disclosed to a victim?
You can be notified by CSC if the offender has been or will be released into the custody of Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). CSC can also inform you when the offender has been removed from Canada (before the end of his or her sentence) or if CBSA releases the offender to the community and CSC becomes responsible to supervise the offender before the end of his or her sentence.
How can registered victims file a complaint about the services they have received from CSC?
If you are not satisfied with the quality of service that you are receiving and would like to make a complaint please contact CSC's Victim Services Unit by phone at 1-866-806-2275 or by email.
If you believe that your rights under the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights have not been respected then you have the right to make a formal complaint. CSC will review your complaint, make a recommendation to correct any infringement (violation) and notify you about the results of the review.
If you make a complaint with CSC and are not satisfied with the response, you can contact the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime.
What is Victim-Offender Mediation?
Victim-offender mediation provides you the opportunity to communicate with the offender about the harms caused by the crime. This is done with the help of trained mediators. While each program may be different, all have certain features in common:
- Voluntary participation;
- Careful preparation;
- Ensured safety and security;
- Confidentiality; and,
- Neutral mediators.
CSC provides a victim-offender mediation service through a program called Restorative Opportunities. Through Restorative Opportunities, you can describe the crime's impact to the offender, ask questions left unanswered after sentencing and find ways to address the harms caused by the offender's actions. The offender has an opportunity to take responsibility for, answer questions about, and gain understanding on the harms they have caused to you.
The purpose of Restorative Opportunities is to address the harms caused by the offense. The process is not focused on reaching an agreement, but rather on open communication.
You can communicate with the offender through face-to-face meetings, letters, recorded video messages, or verbal messages relayed by the mediator.
Registered victims, representatives acting on behalf of registered victims, and non-registered victims of offenders serving federal sentences can participate in Restorative Opportunities by contacting CSC's Restorative Opportunities Coordinator at 613-995-4445 or by email. You can also call CSC's Victim Services Division toll-free at 1-866-806-2275 or by email.
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