Public Forum on the New Pardon System
Nicole And I were Invited to participate in the following public forum on the pardons legislation. We will me speaking members of the panel along with representatives from theÂ St. Leonard’s Society of Ottawa, the John Howard Society of Ottawa, and representativesÂ from the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies.
Below is the press release for this event.
For immediate release
April 4, 2013 (Ottawa) – The Criminalization and Punishment Education Project (CPEP) invites students,Â academics, and all members of the community to participate in an Â pen discussion on the changes that wereÂ made to the pardon system in March 2012. This event will include a panel of speakers who work in theÂ community helping criminalized individuals with various issues (education, employment, housing, and applyingÂ for pardons), as well as accounts from those who have been directly affected by the recent changes.
On March 13, 2012 the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) began processing pardon applications under newÂ guidelines informed by the amendments to the Criminal Records Act under Bill C-23B (via Bill C-10, theÂ omnibus bill). Most significantly, this law doubles the wait periods for eligibility and excludes certain peopleÂ from applying for a pardon altogether. These changes, combined with a new $631 application fee, contribute toÂ the ongoing stigmatization and hamper the reintegration of individuals who have completed their sentences andÂ are now looking to move beyond their past actions.
A backlog of more than 22,000 files at the PBC is also a factor in the ongoing criminalization of manyÂ applicants who have waited up to three years to have a decision made about the concealing of their criminalÂ records. â€œGranting a pardon is an important element of the reintegration process as it opens up moreÂ opportunities for education, employment, and housingâ€, states Samantha McAleese, a recent graduate of theÂ M.A. Criminology Program at the University of Ottawa.
This event will be held at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Social Sciences (FSS) Building (120 UniversityÂ Private) in room 1007 on Friday, April 5, 2013 from 6:00pm to 7:30pm. Speakers will include front-lineÂ workers from the St. Leonard’s Society of Ottawa, the John Howard Society of Ottawa, and representativesÂ from the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies and the National Pardon Centre. The event will alsoÂ feature first-hand accounts of those whose efforts to rebuild their lives and move beyond their pasts have beenÂ frustrated by the recent changes to the pardon system. There will be a question and answer period after the panelÂ presentation.
The CPEP is a group of academics and students from Carleton University and the University of Ottawa whoÂ work to raise awareness and educate the public on criminalization and punishment practices in Canada andÂ abroad. â€œMost of the changes to the pardon system were a reaction to a few sensationalized cases in the mediaâ€,Â states Samantha McAleese, Esther Armstrong, and Alexandria Organ, all members of the CPEP group. â€œThisÂ practice of developing penal policy based on a selection of high-profile cases is a precarious one, and in thisÂ situation it is sure to produce many negative consequences for individuals who do not deserve to endureÂ ongoing punishment and criminalizationâ€.
For more information:
Samantha McAleese (MA Criminology)