Fewer than 200 life-sentenced murderers still have the option to use it even though this provision was eliminated in 2010.
Since 1987, 184 life-sentenced murderers have been granted permission to apply for early parole following a faint hope request, according to the Correctional Service of Canada.
The number of murderers still eligible for the faint hope clause is shrinking in Canada, so it will soon be a thing of the past. This procedure allows a murderer to attempt early release after serving at least 15 years of their sentence. Two similar cases have been heard in Ontario.
Murderers Avol Robinson and Delroy McFarlane recently attempted early parole under a rare provision that no longer exists in Canada today.
The first won his bet in Brampton court at the beginning of July, the second lost it in Newmarket court at the end of the same year.
Call for longer parole ineligibility period
The so-called faint hope clause allows some lifers to petition a jury for a parole earlier than expected.
This unusual provision came into force in 1976 when Canada abolished the death penalty in order to encourage the social rehabilitation of certain murderers, with the exception of traitors to the nation and serial killers.
However, it was abolished in 2010 by the Harper government, so offenders who have committed murder since then are now ineligible for early parole.
There is, however, an exception for all lifers whose crime was committed before December 2, 2011, when the Tory Bill was passed.
The x27;Canadian Criminal Justice Association says this clause was removed from the Criminal Code as part of the Harper government's crime policy.
The faint hope clause will be used less and less in the country as those who can avail themselves of it are released based on their behavior in custody.
Tough on crime is a mantra that appeals to a populist base, but the numbers show crime hasn't decreased in Canada under the Conservatives, says its vice-president Howard Bebbington.
“I wonder, however, whether society should instead crack down intelligently on offenders as long as we should pursue the worthy goal reduce crime and allow the rehabilitation of prisoners, who will sooner or later be released.
—Howard Bebbington of the Canadian Criminal Justice Association
At the last census of the Correctional Service of Canada, they are 191 murderers to still be able to take advantage of the provision. This was the case for Robinson and McFarlane in Ontario.
Delroy McFarlane failed in his attempt to obtain a jury's agreement to submit an application for early parole before the Board.
Delroy McFarlane, who received a life sentence, was not supposed to be eligible for parole until 2028 for the murder of a 20-year-old Torontonian , Josh Julien, in 2003.
Drug-related debt was the motive for premeditated murder in York Region.
McFarlane was found guilty after his trial in October 2008. He had been sentenced to life in prison without the right to parole for 25 years.
The x27;McFarlane's last chance hearing revealed that his defense tried unsuccessfully to persuade the jury that he had changed a lot in prison during his 19 years in prison and that he deserved a second chance for his life. good behavior [the 25-year firm sentence began when he was arrested in 2003 and not when the verdict fell in 2008, editor’s note].
McFarlane's defense never responded to our interview request.
Avol Robinson managed to convince a jury to allow him to apply to the Commission earlier than expected to obtain parole.
Avol Robinson was convicted of premeditated murder in 2004 at the age of 19. After 15 years in detention, he submitted a faint hope petition, which this time proved successful.
His trial had shown that he had provided the murder weapon to an accomplice who had used it to commit the murder.
In this case, the jury accepted the request, so Robinson can apply to the parole board to be released early.
The Criminal Lawyers Association and the Canadian Criminal Justice Association doubt that the current government will reintroduce this provision into the Criminal Code.
His lawyer, Breana Vandebeek, explains that his client was very young at the time, that he had participated in the murder without having pulled the trigger, that he always behaved very well in prison for 17 years.
“I don't see how any company can benefit from having my client in prison for 7 more years or more, simply because the legislator chose the arbitrary number of 25 years to fix the period of ineligibility for parole. »
— Breana Vandebeek, Criminal Lawyers Association
Correctional officers at Beaver Creek Penitentiary say he is a role model for prisoners and that he is a role model for prisoners. he has earned the respect of management, staff and other inmates, she explains, adding that her client has gone through all the prison's rehabilitation programs.
Avol is now 38 years old, he has made enormous progress and he has acquired a lot of capacity for introspection over the years, continues the lawyer who heads the Toronto branch of the ;Association of Criminal Lawyers.
In an email, the Correctional Service writes that 243 offenders have been the subject of at least one court decision regarding this procedure and that 184 #x27;among them have obtained since 1987 a reduction in the period before eligibility for parole.
According to the Canadian Criminal Justice Association, statistics show that this provision as applied did not therefore pose an undue threat to the safety of Canadians.
A last-ditch procedure must pass through many obstacles before ending up before the parole board.
The lecturer at the Faculty of Law of University of Toronto Andrew Furgiuele points out that this process is however punctuated with obstacles. The procedure is long and its outcome, most often unsuccessful.
The clause is titled in English faint hope [weak hope, Ed], because the chance of getting parole early is extremely unlikely, he says.
“The Conservative government of the day ignored the reality surrounding this clause, which most Canadians did not know existed anyway, because it is a very rare procedure that has to go through several checks.
— Andrew Furgiuele, Criminal Law Specialist
A judge of a Superior Court must therefore first weigh the merits of the request and believe that it is very likely that a jury would agree to reduce the period of ineligibility for release. conditional sentence of the applicant.
If the judge gives the green light, a jury of 12 people is then composed to hear the request of the murderer, who remains in detention throughout the procedure except during the hearings .
A last-ditch motion is heard before a 12-person jury in the same way as a denial of guilt at the start of a trial.
The Crown presents its arguments [most often unfavorable, Ed] and the defense its own, as in a conventional trial, except that in this case, the presumption of innocence no longer exists.
If the jury accepts the murderer's request, the convict may submit a request at a later date to the Parole Board of Canada. However, its verdict must be unanimous.
It will ultimately be up to the Commission to establish after another hearing whether the murderer can return to the community.
It will have to assess the risk that an offender represents for the community. She has all of her file, which allows her to thoroughly examine her request for release before making an informed decision, adds Me Vandebeek.
L' Association of Criminal Lawyers regrets that this clause no longer exists. Some individuals deserve a second chance, and most Canadians agree with the principle that some murderers can change in prison, says Mr. Vandebeek.
Me Vandebeek recalls that the social reintegration of prisoners is one of the fundamental components of the Canadian justice system.
She argues that an individual with a life sentence who obtains a release would be supervised anyway for the rest of his life and that he would be imprisoned again as soon as the slightest misconduct.
Murderers who have shown exemplary behavior in custody for a murder committed before December 2011 may avail themselves of the faint hope clause.
According to the Canadian Criminal Justice Association, lifers who are at low risk of recidivism should be offered the opportunity to contributing to society rather than finishing their sentence.
It would be better to try to offer them hope and incentives to facilitate their reintegration into society so that they can resume their lives, eventually find a job, provide for their families, pay taxes and contribute to the betterment of society instead of letting them brood over their rage in prison, says Bebbington.
He also believes the provision should never have been removed, because it proved that some murderers are entitled to redemption and offered them a glimmer of hope for parole. early, encouraging them to behave well in detention.
The Lion and the Lamb, “Equal Before The Law”, Eldon Garnet, Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Toronto.
He also confirms that this procedure works in light of Brampton's Newmarket cases, because a jury managed to balance things out and weigh the varying degrees of culpability of a murderer.
The definition of murder is very broad in the Criminal Code, because there is a nuance between committing murder and participating in the commission of murder; no murderer is alike and no murder is alike, he said.
Mr. Bebbington points out that the procedure also served to hold accountable the members of society who would be chosen to sit in the hearing of a murderer who asks to be released earlier than expected before the end of his sentence.
It is not judges, police officers, correctional officers or probation officers, but ordinary citizens who are called upon to decide on an offender's request for early release, he specifies.
The Freedom of Expression statue by Marlene Hilton Moore in McMurtry Justice Gardens in Toronto.
Mr. Furgiuele adds that the measure also gave the public an opportunity to understand our criminal justice system.
This type of hearing represents a window into the life of a prison murderer and what inmates can or should do to change their behavior in the prison. goal of one day reintegrating into society, he says.
He specifies that these hearings which are public also make it possible to attenuate the anger of the public, when a court agrees to hear the request of a murderer or when the Commission agrees to release him later. sooner than expected.
Public outrage over controversial early release occurs when kept in the dark; it's too easy to criticize a decision without first trying to understand it, he points out.
Insufficient changes to federal pardon law, say groups
Without naming them, Mr. Bebbington reassures the public that the country's notorious murderers will never be freed because of the nature and horror of the crimes that have been committed. they committed.
In an email, the Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario did not accept that its prosecutors involved in these two cases answer our questions .