- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 31 Mar 1966, p. 299-318
- Edmison, J. Alex, Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- The "Red Ryan" case as a horrible example of parole failure. Lessons to be learned from the Red Ryan case. History of the National Parole Board which commenced functioning in Ottawa in January 1959. The address responds to a series of questions, covering the following topics. Responsibilities of the National Parole Board. A definition of parole. Who is eligible for parole, and when. How the National Parole Board knows when an inmate is deserving of parole. Factors considered by the Board when studying parole applications. Examples, both positive and negative, in terms of reform. Why conditions are imposed when parole is granted. Typical conditions in a Certificate of Parole. Who may make parole applications. The proper time to make a parole application. Parole for "lifers" and "habituals" and other long-term prisoners. Drug addicts. Further application once a parole is turned down. Supervision of a parolee. Some of the duties of the Parole Supervisor and the Regional Representative, and the reasons for such duties. Consequences of violation of parole conditions. The record of the National Parole Board to date. Parole success stories.
- Date of Original
- 31 Mar 1966
- Language of Item
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- Full Text
- MARCH 31, 1966
National Parole Its Successes And Its Failures
AN ADDRESS BY J. Alex Edmison, Q.C., NATIONAL PAROLE BOARD
CHAIRMAN, The First Vice-President, R. Bredin Stapells, Q.C.
A century ago the great French writer, Victor Hugo, conceived his memorable romance, Les Miserables. The central figure in the book, you may recall, was Jean Valjean. To ease the starving of his sister's family, Valjean stole a loaf of bread. For this he was sentenced to the galleys and due to numerous attempts to escape-his prison term was lengthened to 19 years.
Eventually he is released and, as a beggar, is befriended by a Bishop, who shows great kindness to him. However, Valjean repays the hospitality by stealing the Bishop's prized silver.
When caught by the police, and dragged back to the Bishop, one of the great moments of drama in this novel is reached--the Bishop declares that the silver was not stolen but a gift. By this one act of understanding, Valjean's entire life was changed-and as the book continues, the Bishop's evaluation of character is vindicated. Victor Hugo's Bishop had found intuitively the best way to deal with this particular offender.
Our speaker today, gentlemen, is J. Alex Edmison, a member of the National Parole Board since its beginning in 1959--and who, for more than 40 years-has been involved in penal work and reform. Like the Bishop in Hugo's novel, his interest is in total and humane justice. Such justice must include the best method to help the convict find his way again, and thus help society too.
A lawyer by profession, formerly an assistant to the Principal of Queen's University, Mr. Edmison was a member of 4-man Fauteux Commission, which for three years, beginning in 1953, probed the probation, parole and clemency system in Canada, and upon whose recommendations the present Parole Board was formed.
During the last war, he served overseas with the Black Watch and in 1945 was appointed by UNRRA as their chief liaison officer to SHAER He received citations from Generals de Gaulle and Eisenhower for his work in organizing care for displaced persons, concentration camp survivors, and refugees. In 1960, he received the "Award for Distinguished Humanitarian Service" from the John Howard Society of which he had been Executive Director for Ontario. He is a former president of the Canadian Penal Association and the International Prisoner's Aid Association.
At this moment of Canadian history, when capital punishment is being hotly debated and our system of criminal justice questioned, it is most timely that the Empire Club of Canada should welcome to its rostrum a man of such proven experience. I give you Mr. J. Alex Edmison, Q. c., who will speak on "National Parole-Its Successes and its Failures."
The Toronto newspapers for 26th November 1912 featured a crime story which has had repercussions until this day. Three youths, aged 18, 17 and 16, had been arrested for several charges of burglary, theft of motor cycles and for shooting at a farmer on the highway near Cooksville, Ontario. One of the three had fired two shots at the farmer for refusing to transport the young thug's motorcycle on his waggon after an accident. The leader of the boys and the one to do the shooting was Norman Ryan. This had not been his first clash with the law. At the age of 13 he had been given a suspended sentence for stealing a bicycle and at 14 he had been sentenced to the boys' industrial school for stealing chickens. He was later, as "Red" Ryan, to achieve criminal immortality in Canada as a robber with violence, a bank hold-up man, and a double prison escapee. In 1935 he was finally given a much-publicized ticket-of-leave, as parole was called in those days. Ten short months thereafter, in 1936, he was killed after murdering a policeman in a holdup of a liquor outlet at Sarnia, Ontario. In 1956, the Fauteux Committee--of which I was a member--in discussing across the country the possible institution of National Parole Board, met not infrequently parole opposition from people who cited the Red Ryan case as a horrible example of parole failure. Although occurring thirty years ago, we still hear about the Ryan case which every now and then is resurrected as an argument against the institution of parole itself. Two years ago when on a speaking tour in Western Canada for the Association of Canadian Clubs, I was several times questioned from the floor concerning it. I am underlining this old case now for comparative reasons. There are still lessons to be learned from it, by prison administrators, by parole authorities, and last but not least, the general public.
The National Parole Board commenced functioning in Ottawa in January 1959. The Chairman is T. George Street, Q.C., former Welland, Ontario, Magistrate. The four other Members at present are Miss Mary Louise Lynch (a lawyer from Saint John, N.B., and sometime counsel for Lord Beaverbrook in Canada); Edouard Dion, Q.C. (former Crown Prosecutor from New Carlisle, Quebec); Georges A. Tremblay (former Regional Parole Director in Montreal) and myself (whose interests had been predominantly in the prison after-care field). It is our responsibility to decide if and when inmates of Canada's federal penitentiaries and provincial prisons should be released on parole. (In Ontario there is also a Provincial Parole Board concerned exclusively with indefinite sentence cases in Ontario's provincial prisons.)
What then is parole? It is simply the process by which a sentence imposed by the court is completed, not inside an institution but in the community outside under supervision. Parole is not, therefore, clemency or leniency. It is a part of the correctional and reformative process. (Parole should not be confused with probation, which releases persons from the court under supervision, but never from an institution.)
Who are eligible for parole, and after what portion of their sentences have been served in the institution? This is a key question, and the answer is: those who have given some positive indication that they have changed their ways, are resolved to stay out of trouble in future, and have a reasonable prospect of so doing. As for the time which must ordinarily be served before parole, the Parole Regulations indicate as follows:
(1) The portion of the term of imprisonment that an inmate shall ordinarily serve before parole may be granted as follows:
(a) where the sentence of imprisonment is not a sentence . . . for life or . . . of preventive detention, one-third of the term . . . imposed or four years, whichever is the lesser, but in the case of a sentence . . . of two years or more to a federal penal institution, at least nine months.
(b) where the sentence . . . is for life but not a sentence of preventive detention, or a sentence of life imprisonment to which a sentence of death has been commuted, seven years; and
(c) where the sentence is one of life imprisonment to which a sentence of death has been commuted, ten years. (There is now no parole for this class without the approval of the Federal Cabinet.)
(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), where, in the opinion of the Board special circumstances exist, the Board may grant parole to an inmate before he has served the portion of his sentence of imprisonment required under subsection (1) to have been served before a parole may be granted. (Sec-
How does the National Parole Board know when an inmate is deserving of a parole? This, of course, is our biggest problem. We have a file on each inmate containing reports from a great many sources. We study these reports, and give special attention to change in attitude. Conduct in the institution is necessarily important, as are work habits and use of leisure time. In addition to our sources of information from the institution and the home community, we rely on the regular visits which the field staffs of the Parole Board make to prisons. At these times are interviewed those requesting to see them and also those whom we have selected for special interviews. There are now thirteen Regional Parole Offices across Canada.
What factors do the Board consider when studying parole applications? Perhaps this vital question can best be answered in the posing of several questions we ourselves raise when deciding to reject or grant a parole. Among these are: has the inmate really changed or is it a surface change only? Has he or she taken advantage of any of the institutional facilities for self-improvement? If the dossier indicates alcoholism, has inmate recognized this and sought the help of A.A. services if same are available? The human factors involved are broad and numerous. From individual Parole Board files I quote the following extracts which should be indicative of some matters we deem important when deciding on parole:
He has made just about as complete a change while here as any inmate I have seen during my time here.
Inmate's one big problem is alcohol. He has joined A.A. and seems sincere in trying to conquer his difficulty.
This officer indicates that the inmate is a mature, fairly stable individual in whose life the prison sentence is an isolated incident.
Perhaps the time has come when this man might be considered for parole under close supervision. Certainly continued imprisonment would only produce a negative result in his case.
His release plans--including job and place to reside are acceptable. He does not appear to present any social or emotional problems and this offence seems to have been an isolated incident, not likely to be repeated. He should adjust well with a minimum type of supervision.
Inmate's general deportment over the past year has shown definite improvement over his earlier conduct. He is evidently endeavouring to control his impulses.
This first offender has been doing exceptionally well in the Vocational Machine Shop and is well regarded by those who have to deal with him. He gives every promise of doing well on release.
Getting along fine in the institution and making some noticeable progress in his attitudes and in his work. Very good relationship with his parents and family. A good risk for parole if he continues to improve in his conduct and attitude.
Inmate seems to have undergone a religious awakening and there is indication that his parents and friends will assist him in his rehabilitation.
During the early years of his prison terms he was a disciplinary problem but as he advanced in years he also developed a realization that he must find himself or spend the remainder of his life in prison. He now realizes that it is time for him to make a final effort. His intentions are better than at any time, to my knowledge, and his release under supervision should be considered.
Training in cooking and baking continues with excellent progress. His instructor feels inmate is capable of holding a position of second cook in any logging, mining or military camp. Industry and conduct are excellent.
This man has improved a great deal while here. His attitude is very good now, he blames nobody but himself and has done some honest soul-searching . . . he is very interested in engineering and appears sincere in wanting to learn so that he will have satisfactory employment on release . . . . He received his 4th-Class Engineer's Certificate and should be able to carry out the duties on the outside with no difficulty.
He has more in his favour to successfully returning to normal living than most applicants for parole. He has employment, wife and family, a community of friends plus a relatively long period of law-abiding behaviour behind him.
Since the examples just cited are obviously "positive" in character, can others of a "negative" character be given? Herewith, again from the Parole Board files, are extracts from cases where reform does not appear to have taken place:
This inmate is a recidivist of long standing and has no trouble in adjusting to prison routines . . . Is not interested in trade training nor in academic study. Registered as non-believer on admission and has no interest whatsoever in religion. Does not correspond with anyone-does not want to be bothered with his family any more. Subject knows all the angles-will serve his time with a minimum of effort, will be released and will return to his past pattern of behaviour which will result in future gaol terms. Is not responsive to counselling and with his present attitude and response his successful rehabilitation is considered very doubtful.
Appears to lack any desire to change his past pattern of behaviour--is a "skid row" type and will return to that life on his release. A hopeless case for successful rehabilitation.
Discharge planning or interest is presently nonexistent. "As far as the future goes, I am a pretty good thief if I continue living the same life as before."
Is rather a dull, unstable individual who believes everyone is against him and will not accept counselling or advice-seems to feel that he knows all the answers. Expressed a desire to lead a proper life but lacks the proper self-confidence to do so. Has sort of a defeatist attitude and as long as this attitude remains, his successful rehabilitation is very unlikely.
Is not sure whether he can abstain from the use of drugs on his release-states he cannot understand why he goes back to using drugs as he claims he really doesn't like them but can't seem to stay away from them once he is released. It would appear that his only hope for rehabilitation would be if he refrained from the use of drugs.
These excerpts from our files will indicate the importance the Board places on institutional training and conduct. We like to think that the inmates we parole have improved mentally, spiritually and physically over what they were before entering prison. For a long period in Canada's correctional history this would have been a forlorn hope indeed. Let us again look at the case of "Red" Ryan who in 1912 was sentenced to a term of 3 1/2 years in Kingston Penitentiary for his fracas with the farmer on the highway. What rehabilitation facilities were available to him in that institution during his crucial first time in an adult prison? At that time there was no prison psychiatrist, no psychologist, no classification officer, no educational courses or trade training worth the name. A Special Committee of the Ontario Legislature in 1908 said, concerning the 40 young men (between 17 and 22 years) then in Kingston: ". . . The indiscriminate association of these first offenders and the hardened and dissolute type is a deplorable feature of our present system. To put it mildly, the State is not giving a fair chance to the erring boy when it herds him with those who have decided on pursuing a life of crime. The officials of the Penitentiary in their last report stated that the prospects of these youths being reformed were not more than one in a thousand."
In August 1913 at a time when the young Ryan was still incarcerated in Kingston Penitentiary, a Royal Commission was set up to inquire into, among other things, "such methods as may conduce to the permanent reformation of the convicts." The Chairman was George Miles Macdonnell, K.C., of Kingston, the father of the Honourable J. M. Macdonnell so well known to Torontonians. The Commissioners were extremely critical of all they found there. They criticised the labour policies of the institution. They said,
"The idea that the prisoners must work at hard labour all the time they are outside their cells, even if the product of their labour is of no value, has been carried to the extreme. It was urged by one of the inspectors, as an excuse for not giving a reasonable period to the education of the illiterate during the day time, that the school would interfere with the labour of the prison. If an hour or two every day were given up to school for some and exercise in the yard for others, less stones would be broken, 'tis true. But some men, whose spirits are being crushed, and whose manhood is being debased, might be saved to future good citizenship if a civilizing help in the way of a school or a breath of the open air each day could be introduced to brighten their lives."
They described conditions in the stone--breaking shop:
"Every feature of that department was bad. The atmosphere was charged with stone dust and there was apparently no adequate provision for carrying it away. The closets, situated at one end of the buildings, were poorly constructed and foul-smelling. Over seventy prisoners, some of whom were boys, were at work in this department when the Commissioners made their visits. They were arranged in rows, facing each other, and the stone to be broken was piled in a long heap between them. As the raw material was reduced to the required size, fresh supplies were wheeled in by tenders from the yard. There was perfect order among the men. Not a word was spoken. But the monotonous raps of the hammers, the sullen, whitened faces of the forms, half crouching over their unhealthy, unprofitable, degrading tasks, were a mute but powerful denunciation of the system that permitted, or rendered necessary, such an outrage. Nothing has been said, nothing can be said, in defence of this twentieth century reproduction of the unceasing toil of the galley-slave."
They deplored the entirely punitive atmosphere of the Penitentiary. Custody and not reform was the motivation. Staff morale was bad, "resulting apparently," they said, "from a system of administration, especially in regard to appointments, political influence, religious antagonisms, and political jealousies." One of the inspectors examined said, "No matter, all were prisoners and there were no differences or classes among the prisoners, they all were criminals and should be treated as such." This inspector evidently had no great appreciation for his fellow man as would appear from his answer to a commissioner's question, "It is idle to say that humanity is divided into two classes and that all the bad men are in prison and all the good fellows are out of it." The inspector answered: "I don't believe that, there are a great many outside who ought to be in!" The more one reads of this Report the more one realizes that the possibility of young prisoners like Ryan being reformed there were almost negligible. It would have been almost impossible for any conscientious parole board to get the necessary cooperation from an institution of that kind or, with any hope of success, to grant any parole therefrom. Fortunately the average Canadian penal institution has immeasurably improved since those days. We still in some sections of Canada have a long way to go yet in the way of progressive and reformative penology. However progress is being continually made and I am quite hopeful for the future.
Why are conditions imposed when a parole is granted?
The reasons should be apparent. Most inmates got into trouble through some weakness of character or through misfortune. The rules they followed when previously on "civvy street" were evidently not sufficient to bring them success or happiness. Therefore the ordinary and special conditions in parole certificates have been framed to help the parolee adjust to the community during the period of parole. Most of those applying to the Board have already failed when given "unconditional releases" previously. We desire to help them as much as possible so that their rehabilitation will be more successful this time.
What are typical conditions in a Certificate of Parole? Obtain permission before changing job or residence; Obtain permission before leaving the jurisdiction; Obtain advice before marrying; Obtain permission before assuming substantial indebtedness; Endeavour to maintain steady employment; Support his dependents to best of his ability; Report accurately his earnings and debts; Obtain permission to possess firearms; Avoid use of intoxicants to excess; Avoid disreputable places and associates; Keep reasonable hours as defined by parole supervisors; Obtain permission before buying or operating an automobile; Submit written reports and keep appointments for interviews as instructed by his parole supervisor; Comply with all reasonable instructions of his parole supervisor.
In special cases the above rules may be varied or waived. On the other hand, further provisions may be inserted in unusual circumstances. The purpose of these conditions is, of course, to guide the parolee as he serves the balance of his sentence at large in society. In other words, these conditions are illustrative of parole as a transitional step between close confinement in an institution and absolute freedom in society.
In the case of long parole periods, do these conditions continue to apply? No, not if the parolee demonstrates his ability to get along "on his own". Conditions are gradually lessened and in time removed entirely in the cases of proven successful rehabilitation.
Who make parole applications? There are no restrictions. Any inmate can apply in writing through his Custodian who forwards the application to the Parole Board. Relatives, friends, prospective employers, lawyers, and others interested, can at all times write to the Board direct on behalf of inmates. In fact we like to hear from any person who can provide information helpful to our consideration of a parole application. The Parole Act also says:
6. (1) The Board shall at the times prescribed by the regulations
(a) review the case of every inmate serving a sentence of imprisonment of two years or more, whether or not an application has been made by or on behalf of the inmate, and
(b) review such cases of inmates serving a sentence of imprisonment of less than two years as are prescribed by the regulations, upon application or on behalf of the inmate.
While there is no specified form for parole applications, it is important to give reasons why parole is believed to be merited and why the inmate is to be considered a reasonable "parole risk".
When is the proper time to make a parole application?
This is a question as often asked as it is hard to answer. It should be apparent that evidence of a real change in a person must be forthcoming. This obviously cannot happen overnight. That is why parole applications made at the commencement of a sentence are not very realistic. The inmate may tell us that he has "started" a trade course or a correspondence course. We will want to know if he has "stayed with it". Another inmate reports that he was intoxicated when he committed his crime, and he realizes he is an alcoholic and has joined A.A. in the institution. So far, so good-but does he continue with A.A. and really get to know and feel what it stands for? Another applicant who has always had trouble getting along with people says he has "changed now". We hope he has-but we must wait and see how he behaves with his custodians and fellow inmates over a reasonable period of time. Others give lip-service to their reform yet boast of illegal acts that they have "got away with". For such it is evident that they need more time to bring about a change of attitude. Many are sent to prison because of offences arising out of their immaturity. If they continue to demonstrate the same immaturity within the walls it is evident that they are not parole material at present. Others owe their downfall to a disregard for any sort of discipline or authority. Attitudes such as this require a period in which to change. All these observations add up to the conclusion that we would like to run the Parole Board without many hard-and-fast rules. In a real sense it depends on the inmate itself. When is he ready to enter again the "game of life" in which hitherto he has been but a bad or indifferent performer? We are prepared to give serious attention to those who demonstrate "readiness" at any sentence stage where a proper evaluation of their worthiness can be made.
What about parole for "lifers" and "habituals" and other long-term prisoners? The answer can be given by pointing to the goodly numbers in each category who have been given parole in the past. Many of them have turned out to be quite successful parolees. Because of the nature of their sentences it is usually necessary to make special plans for their civil reestablishment. This the Parole Board is quite prepared to do once we have fairly conclusive evidence that there has been a definite change of outlook combined with a meaningful programme of preparation for the parole period. We do not want even those with the longest sentences to feel that they have nothing to hope for. The records, happily, can tell of some really amazing "comebacks" by persons in this category who decided to "do something" about their lives. The National Parole Board will not be found without understanding in such legitimate cases.
What about drug addicts? It is not true that such are never given parole. There are a number of former drug addicts who are now on parole, or who have successfully completed their parole periods. However, because the recidivist or repeater rate has always been high we must handle these cases with special care. The drug addict parolees who become rehabilitated are invariably those who decide in the institution to "shake the habit" and continue to do so on release by acquiring new work habits and new associates who are not addicts. It is not an easy rehabilitation road--but it can be manoeuvred by those with enough fortitude and intelligence to attempt it. The Parole Board joins with interested agencies in endeavouring to make some contribution to at least the partial solution of this medicolegal problem.
Once turned down for parole, can a further application be made? By all means. If new factors present themselves the Board is very willing to "take another look" at the case. A family reconciliation, a job offer, or any other favourable happening can be of importance. For instance, if we have had to turn down a parole because the inmate would have no place to go on release, the subsequent offer of suitable accommodation might well bring about a change in the decision. Sometimes new facts come to the Board from the Custodian which persuade us to grant a parole after a previous rejection. New information may also come from the community where the inmate has made his home. Parole Board files will always remain open for anything of significance in favour of an inmate at any time.
Mention has been made of "supervision" of a parolee--who provides it? Most parole certificates will indicate that the parolee will be "under the authority of the National Parole Board Regional Representative" in the area where the parolee is to go. Ordinarily it is also stipulated that the parolee is to "accept the supervision and assistance" of a John Howard, Elizabeth Fry, or other after-care society in his or her home area. This responsibility might also be assumed by the Salvation Army, a clergyman, a provincial welfare probation officer, or by anyone else designated by the Board.
What are some of the duties of the Parole Supervisor and the Regional Representative, and the reasons for some? Supervision is designed to help a parolee make a normal transition from the regimented life of the prison to the freedom of movement and decisions enjoyed by ordinary citizens. Because of the supervision provided, the parolee is not left to face his problems alone. Assistance is provided from outside himself in terms of professional guidance which helps him meet the everyday problems as well as the emergency. What is offered is essentially a case-work service which consists of helping individuals resolve their own problems through the support, guidance, and counselling given. The National Parole Board, therefore, is vitally interested in the type and nature of supervision available to a parolee on release. When a supervisor accepts a parolee we consider him the agent who has undertaken to follow the progress of the parolee and to report thereon regularly to the National Parole Board. Thus the supervisor has a dual responsibility, on the one hand to the parolee and on the other to the Board.
In addition, and within the terms of the Parole Agreement, the parolee may be obligated to accept the supervision and guidance of the Regional Representative. On this level the parolee would be required to report to him as requested, in person or in writing, and to accept his counsel and guidance. The R.R. in turn lends the parolee all the assistance in his power and keeps the Board informed through written reports of a parolee's progress. In most cases, in addition to being under the authority of the R.R., the parolee may be required to accept the supervision of one of the aftercare agencies. Whether it be public or private agency, it is staffed invariably by professionally skilled and understanding workers. They have at heart the welfare of their clients and lend their professional skills through counselling and guidance, sometimes through material aid, to help a parolee reach a more satisfactory personal and social adjustment. The more effective helping hand is extended, rather than the sometimes less effective handout. The worker may be someone the inmate has met already in the institution and possibly the worker may have advised the Board that he was prepared to supervise the inmate should he be released on parole. It would seem to be a more useful arrangement where the parolee is released to someone he knows. The parolee is expected to keep in touch regularly with his supervisor, to report to him as required, and to accept his counsel and guidance. To refuse to do so merits appropriate penalties even to the extent of having to return the parolee to prison. The supervisor with his dual responsibility to the parolee and to the Board provides services to the parolee without charge and reports regularly in writing to the Board on the parolee's progress.
These are but the bare mechanics of what can be a warm and understanding relationship, aimed toward restoring the parolee to society as a useful and law-abiding citizen. There are limits to personnel and resources but much can be accomplished if the parolee willingly accepts supervision and uses the services provided. We find that the relationship with the after-care workers often continues after the expiration of the parole period.
What happens when a parolee violates parole conditions? Despite what some critics may say, it is not the Parole Board's intention to send a man back to gaol for every trivial offence. An inmate is awarded parole because the Board believes that he will behave like an average lawabiding citizen. If he does not do so, the Parole Board has the authority to ensure that the public is protected, and this is done in the following ways:
Suspend parole--the Board may suspend any parole when it is indicated that the arrest of the parolee is necessary in order to prevent a breach of any parole condition. For example, a person may have been refused permission to change his residence and is found packing his belongings and has made plans to leave town. When a parole is suspended, the Board-after a review of the case-will either revoke or continue the parole.
Revoke parole--a parole may be revoked for a breach of any condition of that parole. For example an alcoholic parolee who violates the condition to abstain may have his parole revoked. Or again, a parole may be revoked after a person has neglected his family responsibilities or leaves his job without valid reason.
Forfeiture of parole--There is an automatic forfeiture of parole following conviction for an indictable offence,
(a) committed after the grant of parole, and
(b) punishable by imprisonment for a term of two years or more.
What is the record of the National Parole Board to date? Since January 1959, when we commenced operations, there have been granted approximately 14,700 paroles. Of this number, approximately 1,550 have had to be revoked for one reason or another. The failure rate, therefore, is not much over 10%. While this could be considered a fairly commendable record, we realize we have made errors. We have obviously let some people "out" who did not deserve parole, and on the other hand, we undoubtedly have kept others "in" who might have done well "outside" on parole. All this makes the Board most anxious that research be conducted into all phases of the parole operation. Why do some parolees fail and others succeed? The Centre of Criminology at the University of Toronto may tell us much in a contemplated survey. It would, for instance, also be useful to ascertain the collective annual earnings of our parolees. We know that the Pennsylvania Board of Parole, which yearly handles about the same number of cases as we do, reported recently that their parolees had earned $6,683,000 in the previous calendar year. On this, $674,700 was paid in income tax. Further, considering the great difference in cost between keeping a person in prison and having him out on parole-earning his family off relief--the savings to Canada through a sound parole policy are substantial indeed. This we think the public should realize, perhaps more thoroughly than it does.
In striving to arrive at a sound parole policy, our Board is ever ready to experiment. We have been doing this in some drug addict cases in British Columbia, and also in selected Doukhobor cases in the same Province, with reasonable successes in each category. We have been giving "Temporary Paroles" to institutions like Haney in B.C. and to the Prison for Women in Kingston, whereby inmates are allowed to take jobs or training courses in the community, returning to the prison at night. "Gradual Release" is another formula which has been described as a procedure designed to assist particularly the long-term prisoner in his or her progressive adjustment to community life. Under this method the inmate to be released is allowed to leave the prison daily and sometimes overnight, during a period extending from one week to as much as three months, just prior to final release on parole or at the expiration of sentence. "Minimum Parole" is a widespread experiment whereby certain penitentiary inmates who have not achieved ordinary parole, are allowed out with suitable supervision before sentence expiry, allowing one month for each year of sentence to a maximum of six months. Those who accept "minimum parole" are placing in jeopardy all their remission time earned in the institution. (For instance an inmate receiving "minimum parole" two months before expiry of his two-year sentence would be under control in the community for eight months. Reasonable success is being had with this type of parole. The results herein will be weighed carefully if and when future consideration is given to a "Statutory Parole" which would mean that nearly all inmates would obtain their release under the assurance of supervision and help. This is a successful procedure in some of the American States. It affords additional assistance to the prison dischargee and increased protection to society. And this, assuredly, is what every parole system must provide.
Are there many parole success stories? Yes, there are a great many-and the number is increasing. The "successes" not being as newsworthy as a "Red" Ryan failure, are not so well known. Men and women have emerged from prison, have co-operated well with groups and individuals seeking to help them, and have never since had any trouble with the law. Some have actually risen to places of more than average prominence in business and industry; others have gone on to graduate from universities and professional schools. Many are skilled workers in the construction and mechanical trades. In final reports we note a rather high percentage of evidently satisfactory domestic relations. There is no need to over-dramatize. The records give ample evidence that persons who have had some rough reversals in life can "come back" and be useful members of society. The National Parole Board hopes to assist in many more of these "success stories" in the years ahead. To do so we will need the continued support and understanding of the informed public of Canada.
Thanks of this meeting were expressed by Rt. Rev. E. M. Howse.