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 (continued)

Findings from Probation Officer, Corrections, and Parole Board Respondents (continued)

7. Victim Safety Post-Sentencing

Victim safety is an important consideration at all stages of the criminal justice process, including probation. Respondents to the probation survey were asked several questions about victim safety at this stage. More than two-thirds of probation officers (68%) reported that they generally recommend in pre-sentence reports that conditions for the victim's safety be placed on the offender. Approximately one-third said that they usually speak to victims who know the offender when preparing pre-sentence reports and a similar proportion said that they speak to all victims.

To ensure that conditions of probation are followed, at least half of respondents reported that they conduct collateral checks or monitor the offender directly; one-quarter said that they consult the victim about any breaches of conditions; and about one-tenth monitor criminal justice information systems and databases. Twenty-eight percent simply said that they verify compliance with probation conditions but did not explain specifically how this is done. Table 15 provides complete results.

TABLE 15: HOW DO PROBATION OFFICERS ENSURE THAT CONDITIONS OF PROBATION ARE FOLLOWED?
Ways of ensuring conditions are followed: Probation (N=206)
Collateral contacts or checks 58%
Direct monitoring of offender 50%
Verify compliance with probation conditions 28%
Consult with victim about any breach of conditions 25%
Monitor criminal justice system information or databases 11%
Passive monitoring 2%
No response 8%

Note: Respondents could provide more than one response; total sums to more than 100%.

8. Victim Participation at Parole

When asked whether most victims participate in various aspects of the correctional process, overall the main finding is that victims either do not participate or participate only in serious cases. NPB respondents reported the highest level of victim participation in the area of requesting information about the offender's parole eligibility and hearing; almost half said that most victims request this information in either most cases (27%) or only in serious cases (22%). For the remaining types of participation providing new or additional information for use in conditional release, attending parole board hearings as observers, or presenting the statement in person or via audio or videotape about one-third of NPB respondents reported that most victims participate only in serious cases. Few reported that most victims participate in most cases. CSC respondents perceive an even lower level of participation than NPB respondents in these areas.

Few provincial parole board respondents believe that victims generally participate. Even in serious cases, less than one-third reported that most victims participate. Table 16 below provides the complete results.

TABLE 16: - VICTIM PARTICIPATION IN PAROLE OR CORRECTIONAL PROCESSES

About three-quarters of the national (73%) and provincial (77%) parole board respondents and 86% of CSC respondents believe that there are obstacles to victim participation in the parole or correctional process. [4] The main barriers cited by NPB and CSC respondents are the lack of funding to assist victims who want to attend parole board hearings, and the lack of victim awareness of ways in which they can participate in the parole process and of the support services available. CSC respondents also emphasize that support services for victims in the parole process are insufficient. Provincial parole board respondents perceive lack of funding for victims to attend parole hearings as less of an obstacle. Instead, they consider the lack of victim awareness of their opportunities for participation and the support services available, insufficient support services, and lack of victim knowledge of when applications are required as the primary obstacles to victim participation. See Table 17 for the complete results.

TABLE 17: WHAT ARE THE OBSTACLES TO VICTIM PARTICIPATION IN THE CORRECTIONAL PROCESSES? - BASE: RESPONDENTS WHO BELIEVE THERE ARE OBSTACLES TO VICTIM PARTICIPATION.
Obstacles: National Parole Board (n=62) Correctional Service Canada (n=25) Provincial parole board (n=17)
Lack of funding for victims who want to attend hearings 76% 68% 35%
Victims are not aware of the ways they can participate 69% 76% 94%
Victims are unaware of support services available 61% 56% 65%
Support services for victims are insufficient 48% 60% 71%
Victims do not know when an application is required 42% 48% 65%
Registration requirements 16% -- --
Distance, travel or transportation 11% 12% --
Insufficient notice 8% -- --
Information-sharing policy 8% -- --
Fear or intimidation and/or unwillingness to face offender 5% 16% 12%
Other 8% 16% 29%
No response 2% -- --

Note: Respondents could provide more than one response; totals sum to more than 100%.


[4] National and provincial parole board respondents were only asked about the parole process, and CSC respondents were asked about the correctional or parole process.

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