MP Earl Dreeshen Highlights Further Steps to Protect Canadian Families from Repeat Violent Criminals
February 27, 2015 – Red Deer - MP Earl Dreeshen today highlighted Prime Minister Harper’s announcement that the Government of Canada will introduce legislation in keeping with the commitment made in the 2013 Speech from the Throne to further protect Canadian families by ending the practice of automatic early release for repeat violent criminals. The Prime Minister made the announcement on February 12th, 2015, following a roundtable discussion with victims of crime held in Victoriaville, Quebec. He was joined by the Honourable Steven Blaney, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
Under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA), federal offenders serving fixed-term sentences are allowed to serve the final third of their sentence in the community under supervision and subject to conditions.
Our Government has determined that this is the wrong approach when it comes to repeat violent offenders. Therefore, under the proposed legislation, repeat violent offenders will no longer be granted statutory release after serving two-thirds of their sentence. These measures reflect the Harper Government’s ongoing commitment to keep our streets and communities safe while ensuring that the rights of victims are placed over those of criminals.
Statutory release (SR) is a presumptive release by law at the two-thirds mark of a fixed sentence, and takes effect automatically unless the Parole Board of Canada determines that the offender is likely to commit another serious offence.
Under SR, eligible federal offenders serve the final third of their sentence in the community, under supervision and subject to conditions which can include a residency condition (i.e., reside at a ‘halfway-house’). Only offenders serving determinate (i.e., fixed-term) sentences are eligible for SR, whereas inmates serving a life sentence or an indeterminate sentence are always ineligible.
The proposed amendments to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act would seriously restrict statutory release for repeat federal offenders who have previously received a prison sentence of five years or more that includes a serious violent component.
The amendments will allow repeat offenders to be exposed to correctional programming in penitentiaries for a longer period of time to change behaviour which contributes to reoffending.
These changes complement other tough on crime actions introduced by our Government, including:
Tougher prison sentences for sexual offences against children, serious gun crimes, impaired driving, and selling drugs to children;
Providing the courts with the discretion to end sentence discounts for multiple murders; and
Repealing the Faint Hope Clause which allowed offenders serving a life sentence with a parole ineligibility period of more than 15 years to apply for parole after serving 15 years in prison.
“It is unacceptable that Canadians fall prey to violent offenders who have benefitted from early release after repeatedly committing violent crimes. Our Government is committed to protecting Canadian families by ensuring that statutory release provisions are used with greater discipline and that violent offenders are kept off the streets and out of our communities.” – Prime Minister Stephen Harper
“Families in Central Alberta have expressed serious concern regarding violent repeat offenders being granted early released and returning to our streets to reoffend. Our Government takes these concerns seriously and I am proud of the measures being introduced to address this troubling gap in our justice system.” - Earl Dreeshen - Member of Parliament, Red Deer