Types of Release

Conditional Release

The Parole Board of Canada (PBC) has exclusive authority to grant both day parole and full parole, based on information and assessments prepared by CSC prison and community staff. The authority to grant parole is found in the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA), and the respective provincial legislation. Before granting such releases, Parole Board members must be satisfied that the offender will not pose undue risk to the community and will fulfill specific conditions.

Under the CCRA, the PBC has exclusive jurisdiction and absolute discretion to grant, deny, terminate or revoke parole for inmates in federal, territorial, and many provincial institutions, except for cases under the jurisdiction of provincial parole boards. The Parole Board may also, when applicable, revoke the statutory release of an offender. The Correctional Service of Canada supervises offenders on parole or statutory release to ensure that they adhere to the conditions of release set by the PBC.

Full Parole is a form of conditional release that allows an offender to serve part of a prison sentence in the community. The offender is placed under supervision and is required to abide by conditions designed to reduce the risk of re-offending, and to foster reintegration of the inmate into the community. Under full parole, the person does not have to return nightly to an institution, but must report regularly to a parole supervisor, and in certain cases, to the police.

Offenders (except those serving life sentences for murder) are eligible to apply for Full Parole after serving either one-third of their sentence, or seven years, whichever is less.

Offenders serving life sentences for first-degree murder are eligible to apply for full parole, after serving 25 years. Dates for offenders serving life sentences for second-degree murder are set between 10 and 25 years by the court.

Day Parole provides offenders with the opportunity to participate in on-going community-based activities. Ordinarily, the offender resides at a correctional institution or community residence. Offenders are also granted day parole in order to prepare for full parole and statutory release.

Offenders who are:

  • serving sentences of two years or more are eligible to apply for day parole six months prior to full parole eligibility or after six months, whichever is greater.
  • serving life or indeterminate sentences are eligible to apply for day parole three years before their full parole eligibility date or after three years, whichever is greater.

Temporary Absences

Under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, there are three types of temporary absences from prison: escorted temporary absences, unescorted temporary absences and work releases. The authority for temporary absences is found in both federal and provincial correctional legislation and is exercised by correctional authorities in provincial and territorial systems. In the federal system, the responsibility for temporary absences is shared between the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) and the Correctional Service of Canada. Temporary releases may be granted when it is considered that the inmate will not, by re-offending, present an undue risk to society during the absence. The temporary absence must also fit within the framework of the offender's correctional plan. Temporary absences may be granted for medical, administrative, community service, family contact, parental responsibility, personal development (rehabilitation), or compassionate reasons.

Escorted temporary absence (ETA) is a release in which an offender, either alone or as a member of a group, leaves the institution accompanied by one or several escorting officers. The duration of the ETA is limited. Medical absences, however, may be unlimited. ETAs may be granted at any time in an offender's sentence.

Unescorted temporary absence (UTA) is a release of limited duration in which an offender leaves the institution for any of the reasons indicated above, unaccompanied by CSC staff. Offenders must have served a portion of their sentence before being eligible to apply for a UTA. Offenders classified as maximum security are not eligible for UTAs.

Work release is a structured program of release, established for a specified period of time, involving work or community service outside the penitentiary. This type of program is supervised by a staff member or other authorized person or organization. Offenders who are eligible for a UTA are also eligible to apply for a work release.

Statutory Release

Statutory Release requires federally sentenced offenders to serve the final third of their sentence in the community, under supervision and under conditions of release similar to those imposed on offenders released on full parole. Offenders serving life or indeterminate sentences are not eligible.

Offenders on statutory release are inmates who either did not apply for release on parole, or who were denied release on full parole. Though statutory release is legislated (i.e. it is not 'conditional' and is not granted by the Parole Board), the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) can keep an offender in the institution after his/her statutory release by issuing a detention order. This occurs if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the offender is likely to commit an offence causing serious harm or death, a sexual offence involving a child or a serious drug offence. By issuing a detention order, the offender remains incarcerated after his/her statutory release.

Release on Expiry of Sentence

Release on expiry of sentence is not a conditional release; it is the full release required when someone has served the entire sentence. It applies to offenders who were considered too dangerous to return to the community under statutory release. In addition, some offenders eligible for conditional release choose to stay in prison until the end of their sentences.