Parole Board finally reports progress on pardons backlog
Good news if you are still waiting for a criminal pardon to be processed: the Parole Board of Canada is getting there! A couple of years ago, they were sitting on a huge backlog of nearly 22,000 applications, many of which had languished for years awaiting processing. There were several reasons for the enormous backlog, including:
- A massive crackdown on the entire pardons system which occurred in 2010-2012 after a sex offender who arguably should not have received a pardon, was pardoned and then reoffended. The resulting public outcry triggered an overall review and tightening of the system
- A lack of staffing to handle the volume of requests and clear the backlog
- People filling out their pardons applications incorrectly, leading to files that take years to be closed as applicants attempt to rectify the mistakes
Record suspensions processed ahead of years-old pardon applications
When the former Conservative government under Prime Minister Harper passed the new crime bill in March of 2012 that changed the rules for pardons, more changed than just the fee – which quadrupled to $631, after many years at just $50 and then $150. Among the changes born of the serious crackdown:
-A three-strikes rule, meaning that those with more than 3 convictions for indictable sentences are ineligible for a criminal pardon, ever
-Longer wait times before a pardon can be obtained – 5 years for lesser offenses and 10 years for indictable offenses
-No pardons given at all for certain types of offenses that would ‘bring the administration of justice into disrepute’
-Name of pardon changed to record suspension, removing any connotations of forgiveness
For many, the most significant change was the fee increase. While it might have made things more unaffordable for many, it did have one benefit: those who paid for a record suspension got their applications processed first, before the others mired in the backlog. Why? Because those who paid more were said to have covered their own processing costs under the new, more complicated rules, and thus got to be first in line.
How the backlog was finally (mostly) cleared
So, how do you clear out 22,000 pardons applications? No, it’s not the set up for a joke. The Parole Board hired 21 new staff members and got down to business, beginning with the record suspensions. They started by pre-screening for eligibility, summarily rejecting applications where the applicants were ineligible under the new rules. As of late last year, all files were at least at the investigation stage – and the entire backlog is on track to be cleared out by the end of this month.
As of November 30, 2016, there were no unassigned pardon files remaining in the pardons’ backlog, meaning that all files are at the investigation stage. But the Parole Board of Canada still sets relatively slow service levels for getting back to record suspension applicants: it takes up to 6 months to be approved under a summary offense, 12 months for indictable, and if the Parole Board plans to deny your application, they aren’t obligated to respond for up to two years. This proves that the approximately 2.4 million Canadians with a criminal record are easily marginalized and taken advantage of; after all, few are willing to go public with their criminal record in order to fight the delays.
When no one will stand for you…Dominion Pardons and Waivers will. We have years of experience dealing with the Parole Board of Canada, and we know what they’re looking for in a properly completed application with all the I’s dotted and all the t’s crossed. Contact us to be your intermediary through this difficult and unforgiving process.
Call TOLL FREE 1-888-890-1321
or fill out the online inquiry below and have a qualified agent help you see if you are eligible to clear your criminal record with a Pardon, or gain access to the United States with an Entry Waiver.