New legislation from the UCP means we could soon have an Alberta Parole Board.
The government says if passed, Bill 18 will ensure our province has a "fairer, faster and more responsive justice system that reflects the values of Albertans and meets the needs of our communities.”
Premier Jason Kenney says “Our government has heard loud and clear that Albertans want us to do everything we can to protect them, keep our communities safe and prevent people from being victimized. By creating an Alberta Parole Board, Alberta is taking control of a key component of the administration of justice in this province. It will help end the ‘revolving door’ justice system and will be more in touch with the current realities facing law-abiding Albertans who are frustrated with a justice system that does not make them feel secure and protected.”
The Alberta Parole Board would determine parole or early release eligibility for those serving sentences of less than two years in provincial correctional facilities. Right now, Alberta contracts with the federal government to have the Parole Board of Canada make these determinations.
Kenney says “Our government’s platform committed that we would ensure repeat offenders, including parolees, are not able to re-victimize them,”
He says “This is an important part of getting a fair deal for Alberta, and of getting more Alberta and less Ottawa.”
The government hopes this will address issues related to crime and the spike in rural crime.
Based on a report from 2017, Statistics Canada says rural crime rates are one-third higher than that of their urban counterparts.
Both Ontario and Quebec have had their own provincial parole boards since 1978.
If this is approved, the Alberta Parole Board would also supervise provincial parolees through community probation officers and provincial correctional centre caseworkers and probation officers, who will continue to do much of the same work for the Alberta Parole Board that they already do for the federal parole board.
If passed, the UCP would like to have the Alberta Parole Board in place and operating starting Jan. 1, 2021, at an estimated cost of $600,000 a year.
Kenney says some of that money will come from federal coffers.
The Alberta Government will appoint Alberta Parole Board members for provincial parole decisions.