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Faint Hope Clause

In 1976, Parliament abolished the death penalty for Criminal Code offences and replaced it with mandatory life terms of imprisonment for first-degree murder and second-degree murder.

The judicial review provision, or the faint hope clause, came into effect in 1976 at the same time as the new murder provisions. It allows those convicted of murder, and who have served 15 years of their sentence, to apply to the Chief Justice of the province in which the conviction occurred to have their parole ineligibility period reviewed by a jury. The actual decision as to whether or not the offender may apply for parole is not made by court officials, such as judges or lawyers, or by bureaucrats, but by 12 members of the community sitting as a jury. If the application is successful, that is if the jury has agreed to an earlier parole date, the offender must still apply to the Parole Board of Canada for a hearing on that earlier date. The Parole Board of Canada will then consider whether the release would present an undue risk to society and whether the release would assist in rehabilitating the offender.

Did You Know?
If you are seeking parole information about an offender who may be in custody in a provincial correctional centre, you can contact the Victim Safety Unit, toll free, at 1-877-315-8822. If you are seeking information about an offender who may be in custody in a federal institution, you can contact the National Parole Board or CSC at the Victim Information Line: 1-866-789-INFO (4636).

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