Multi-Site Survey of Victims of Crime and Criminal Justice Professionals across Canada: Summary of Probation Officer, Corrections, and Parole Board Respondents

Findings from Probation Officer, Corrections and Parole Board Respondents

Findings from Probation Officer, Corrections and Parole Board Respondents

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).

1. The Role of the Victim in the Criminal Justice Process

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.

2. Post-Sentencing Victim Services

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[2]. 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.

TABLE 4: WHAT SERVICES DOES YOUR ORGANIZATION PROVIDE FOR VICTIMS?
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.

TABLE 5: WHAT SERVICES DO OTHER VICTIM SERVICES ORGANIZATIONS PROVIDE TO ASSIST VICTIMS WITH THE PAROLE PROCESS? - BASE: RESPONDENTS WHO ARE AWARE OF OTHER VICTIM SERVICES ORGANIZATIONS 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.

3. Information for Victims

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.

TABLE 6 : WHO PROVIDES VICTIMS WITH INFORMATION AFTER A SENTENCE OF PROBATION HAS BEEN IMPOSED?

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[3]. 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).

TABLE 7: DO YOU GENERALLY PROVIDE THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION ABOUT THE OFFENDER TO VICTIMS WHEN THEY REQUEST IT?
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%
Release dates 82% 69% 59%
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.

TABLE 8: DO YOU USUALLY INFORM VICTIMS OF THE FOLLOWING?


  • [2] 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.
  • [3] Note: victims must register with CSC to ensure information is provided to them.
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