Multi-Site Survey of Victims of Crime and Criminal Justice Professionals across Canada: Summary of Probation Officer, Corrections, and Parole Board Respondents
- 1. The Role of the Victim in the Criminal Justice Process
- 2. Post-sentencing Victim Services
- 3. Information for Victims
This section summarizes the results from police respondents, integrating the findings from the survey self-completed questionnaires and interviews. A total of 686 police officers were included in the study, with 648 completing self-administered questionnaires and another 38 participating in interviews (see appendix A for interview guide and survey).
Survey respondents representing parole agencies (NPB, CSC, and provincial parole boards) were asked for their views of the victim's role in conditional release decisions. More than half (55%) think that the victim should be consulted in these decisions, while 40% believe that the victim should simply be informed. CSC respondents were also asked about the victim's role in the offender's incarceration: 41% approve of consulting the victim, whereas 28% support keeping the victim informed, and 14% believe that the victim should not play any role.
Overall, all criminal justice professionals believe that victims should be informed and involved in the criminal justice system. However, they also believe that victims do not fully understand the intricacies of the legal system and therefore should not be the ultimate decision-makers.
The Multi-Site Survey sought information about victim services provided post-sentencing. Probation officers, officials with CSC and federal and provincial parole personnel were asked about services they or others provided to victims during the post-sentencing phase.
According to those probation officers surveyed, a main service to victims is providing information related to offender's release on probation. A number of probation officers reported that they also provide the following types of services to victims: referring victims to other resources (38%); providing offender or disposition information (other than probation-related information) (13%); assisting victims with safety planning (11%); referring victims or providing information on victim services (10%); and generally serving as an information source (9%).
Corrections and parole personnel provide a number of services to victims as listed in Table 4 below. For many of these services at least two-thirds of survey respondents reported that their organization provides these. All NPB respondents (100%) reported accompanying victims to parole board hearings, followed by 68% of provincial parole board respondent and 66% of Corrections personnel; and virtually all Corrections personnel (100%) and NPB (99%) provide victim notification once the victim has requested information.
|Percentage of respondents whose organization provides this service:||National Parole Board (N=85)||Correctional Service Canada (N=29)||Provincial parole board (N=22)|
|Assistance with making requests for information||93%||86%||46%|
|Victim notification once the victim has requested||93%||86%||46%|
|Victim notification once the victim has requested information||99%||100%||64%|
|Information about victim statements||85%||62%||36%|
|Assistance with preparing victim statements||44%||35%||27%|
|Assistance with requests to attend parole board hearings||91%||69%||27%|
|Accompaniment to parole board hearings||100%||66%||68%|
|Ensure that parole board members are aware of victim concerns||87%||66%||68%|
|Referrals to other victim services||52%||72%||41%|
Note: Respondents who gave no response are not represented in this table.
In addition, at least two-thirds of corrections and parole respondents are aware of other victim services that assist victims post-sentencing and, more specifically, with the parole process. These other services, found in Table 5, appear to help fill in some gaps in services identified in Table 4. For example, while 46% of provincial parole board respondents reported that their organization assists victims with making requests for information, 93% are aware of other organizations that provide this assistance. Further, while a minority of respondents reported that their organizations assist with the preparation of victim statements over half of respondents reported that other organizations assist with victim statements. Table 5 provides the complete results for other services that assist victims post-sentencing.
|Percentage of respondents who report that other organizations provide this service:||National Parole Board (n=59)||Correctional Service Canada (n=24)||Provincial parole board (n=14)|
|Assistance with making requests for information||78%||79%||93%|
|Victim notification once the victim has requested information||58%||58%||79%|
|Information about victim statements||53%||75%||71%|
|Assistance with preparing victim statements||59%||83%||64%|
|Assistance with requests to attend parole board hearings||56%||58%||57%|
|Accompaniment to parole board hearings||64%||67%||36%|
|Ensure that parole board members are aware of victim concerns||29%||46%||71%|
Note: Respondents who gave no response are not represented in this table.
While the above discussion concerns what assistance is available post-sentencing for victims, connecting victims to available services is an issue according to most corrections and parole respondents. When asked if they think there is a service gap between sentencing and corrections or parole, about 60% of respondents said yes. Each respondent group provided slightly different suggestions for improving the situation, but they all revolved around better provision of information to victims. The main suggestions were that the criminal justice system should provide more information about services; victims should be advised of NPB and CSC services at sentencing; and more communication is needed between the NPB and CSC and other agencies.
Information for Victims Post-Sentencing
Probation and parole survey respondents were asked about the information provided to victims after a sentence has been imposed. Probation was asked who provides victims with information related to the offender's release on probation; the results are shown in Table 6. A majority of survey respondents reported that probation officers inform victims about the date and location of the offender's release on probation (58%) and about conditions of probation (69%).
It is apparently less common for probation officers to provide victims with other types of information, such as breaches of a condition of probation (39%), proceedings for failure to comply with a condition of probation (29%), and outcomes of such proceedings (30%). Furthermore, about 40% of survey respondents reported that, to their knowledge, no one provides this information to victims.
Respondents representing CSC were asked whether they generally provide victims with various pieces of information about the offender's incarceration, upon the victim's request. A large majority (86%) reported that they generally inform victims about the date that the offender's sentence began and the length of the sentence. Fewer, but still a considerable majority, generally inform victims about dates of temporary absences or work releases (72%) and where the offender is incarcerated (66%). Just under half (48%) provide information about the offender's location during temporary absences or work releases.
Survey respondents representing the NPB, CSC, and provincial parole boards were asked about the information provided to victims at parole. Results are shown in Table 7. In general, victims are most likely to receive information about release dates and conditions of release, and least likely to receive information about the destination of the offender on release and whether the offender has appealed a Parole Board decision. However, there are various differences among the three agencies (see Table 7).
|Percentage of respondents who indicated generally providing the following information to victims if requested…||National Parole Board (N=85)||Correctional Service Canada (N=29)||Provincial parole boards (N=22)|
|Offender's eligibility for conditional release||93%||72%||50%|
|Hearing dates for conditional release||92%||45%||46%|
|Conditions imposed on release||89%||59%||59%|
|Reasons for a release decision||81%||7%||41%|
|Destination of offender on release||51%||45%||46%|
|Suspension or revocation of release||66%||N/A||36%|
|Whether offender has appealed a Parole Board decision||47%||7%||23%|
|Copy of decision by appeal division||47%||7%||55%|
|Travel permits granted to offender||N/A||59%||N/A|
|Changes to the offender's custodial status||N/A||66%||N/A|
Note: Respondents could provide more than one response; totals sum to more than 100%.
Finally, all parole respondents were asked whether they generally inform victims about their rights and opportunities. When contacted by victims, the majority of NPB and CSC respondents inform victims of their opportunities at the parole stage; provincial parole board respondents were less likely to inform victims. Across all three respondent groups, victims are more likely to receive this information if they contact the organization. Complete results are in Table 8.
-  It is important to note that provincial parole board hearings vary from federal parole board hearings, for example, the National Parole Board policy permits a victim impact statement to be submitted, but provincial parole board policy may vary.
-  Note: victims must register with CSC to ensure information is provided to them.
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