In our corrections system, punishments rarely seem to fit the severity of the crime and the rights of criminals that the system has incarcerated are often put ahead of the rights of the victims and law-abiding citizens it is supposed to be protecting.
This topsy-turvy state of affairs in which criminals are catered to by a system that purports to penalize them is typified in the current system of Accelerated Parole Review.
This process allows white-collar criminals and others convicted of “non-violent offenses” to obtain day parole after serving one-sixth of their sentence and full parole after serving just one-third of their time.
Lopsided deals like that, stacked in favour of the criminal, ignore the harm that’s been done to their victims and must be stopped.
That’s why I’m proud of our government’s new legislation that aims to bring balance back to the system.
Our bill will fulfill our government’s election commitment to make offenders earn their parole, improving a system that now gives them a virtually automatic release before they’ve served their sentence.
This legislation will end early release of criminals and increase offenders’ accountability for their crimes, while at the same time strengthening the rights of victims.
This legislation abolishes the Accelerated Parole Review I noted earlier.
It makes the protection of society the guiding principle of the system and gives victims the right to participate in parole board hearings.
It will keep victims better informed about the behaviour and handling of offenders.
It stresses the importance of considering the seriousness of an offence in National Parole Board decision-making.
And the legislation gives new tools to police, authorizing them to arrest an offender who is in breach of release conditions without first having to obtain a warrant.
The new earned parole system is another example of our government’s action to keep our streets safe and to strengthen Canadians’ faith in our justice and corrections systems.
From now on, criminals will have to justify their parole, rather than making their victims justify why they shouldn’t get it.