by Morinville News Staff
If passed, Bill 18, the Corrections (Alberta Parole Board) Amendment Act, would create the Alberta Parole Board, something the UNCP says would ensure a “fairer, faster and more responsive justice system.” The government says that the Parole Board would reflect Albertan values and meet the community needs.
Those serving in provincial correctional facilities are serving sentences less than two years. Currently, Alberta contracts with the federal government to have the Parole Board of Canada determine parole or early release eligibility for those in provincial facilities. An Alberta Parole Board would make those determinations.
Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Doug Schweitzer said the UCP understand Albertans want te government to do everything they can to protect them.
“By creating an Alberta Parole Board, Alberta is taking control of a key component of the administration of justice in this province,” Schweitzer said. “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.”
An Alberta Parole Board would also supervise provincial parolees through community probation officers, with ties to and knowledge of the community. They will closely monitor offenders released on parole from provincial correctional facilities.
NDP Justice Critic Kathleen Ganley said she is skeptical of the UCP’s claim a provincial parole board will help the problem of rural crime.
“Without proper resources to support parolees, the UCP could actually make the situation worse,” Ganley said, adding the Bill comes after downloading rural policing costs onto rural Alberta families and cancelling benefits to victims of violent crimes.
“The issue of rural crime continues to be a problem for Albertans in many parts of this province. Let’s not forget that the UCP promised 500 additional police officers, but ended up adding zero new officers. They simply rebranded existing peace officers from Fish and Wildlife Enforcement, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement and Alberta Sheriffs,” Ganley said.
The NDP MLA said members of the Alberta Parole Board must include Indigenous and Metis community representation as well as other groups representing racialized Albertans.
“Particularly as we are witnessing racially motivated violence here in Canada and in the United States, it is essential that Indigenous people and those who experience racism are represented in our legal system, and on this board,” Ganley said.
If passed, the government plans to have the Alberta Parole Board in place and operating starting Jan. 1, 2021.