Evidence of meeting #5 for Public Safety and National Security in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was risk.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Philippe Bensimon  Criminologist, As an Individual
Dave Blackburn  Former Member at Parole Board of Canada, As an Individual
Catherine Latimer  Executive Director, John Howard Society of Canada

8:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

Good morning, everyone. It's 8:45 and I see quorum.

We have with us this morning Dr. Philippe Bensimon; Dave Blackburn, a former member of the Parole Board of Canada; and from the John Howard Society, Catherine Latimer.

Mr. Blackburn, I understand you want to go a little later in the order.

If it's all right with you, Dr. Bensimon, we'll start with you. You have 10 minutes, sir.

8:45 a.m.

Dr. Philippe Bensimon Criminologist, As an Individual

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the committee.

8:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

Excuse me, Dr. Bensimon. There's no obligation to stand, but you're welcome to if you wish.

8:45 a.m.

Criminologist, As an Individual

Dr. Philippe Bensimon

Thank you very much.

It's just for a short presentation.

8:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

Okay.

Thank you.

8:45 a.m.

Criminologist, As an Individual

Dr. Philippe Bensimon

First, I would like to introduce myself, which will help members better focus their questions.

I have a doctorate in criminology and worked for 27 years with the Correctional Service of Canada, including 15 years in five different penitentiaries as a parole officer and acting clinical coordinator. I then worked for 12 years in operational research, still with the correctional service. I have also taught criminology for 20 years at the University of Ottawa and the Université de Montréal. I have had around fifty criminology papers published in various international journals. Currently, I provide expertise on dangerousness analysis and the risk of recidivism for the Crown and defence, that is, in the court system.

In the short time available to me this morning, to make the rest of the discussion clear, I would like to remind committee members present that no school or university can train a person to become a parole board member. It is not a profession or a specialty; it is a role.

Furthermore, the Parole Board of Canada is only one link in the chain. I have heard a lot of comments. People want to know who is guilty, who is responsible. Everyone is sweeping the dust into their neighbour's yard. To fully understand this case involving a person's death, which is far from a first in Canadian judicial history, I must briefly provide some background to properly situate the subject that has brought us here today.

Not so long ago, following the famous Fauteux report and the Archambault Commission report, the Parole Act was passed in 1956 and the National Parole Board of Canada was then founded in 1959. It went on to change names several times and become the Parole Board of Canada. The board was made up of people chosen at the time by ministers and members of Parliament, who recommended candidates to the Prime Minister's Office. The choices, then, were highly political and depended on the government of the day.

Unfortunately, given high recidivism rates, negative public perceptions of recurring recidivism in Canadian surveys, and members' decisions being regularly criticized for their laxity, it was not until Willie Gibbs came onto the scene in 1994 that the process really changed.

Candidates would now be judged on their knowledge and their ability to conduct a successful interview at a hearing and to make fair and informed decisions. At a minimum, this meant selecting these individuals through a staged process with four separate phases. The first was the written exam, which, if passed, led the person to an oral exam. Unless one had real expertise in the field, it was not a matter of simply preparing for the written exam three weeks in advance. It very often involved several months' preparation, or even a full year.

If candidates passed the first phase, that is, the written exam, they were then called to an interview with four experienced members to put them through role-play scenarios and assess their ability to verbalize a decision. After the written and oral exams came the reliability check phase, to see whether or not candidates had a criminal record.

Finally, candidates were mentored by an experienced member for at least six months. During this period, candidates did not make decisions at hearings. They could react to what was said and provide feedback, but for six months they were apprentices.

Once appointed, they completed an annual 15-day training course on various topics the criminal field, which requires a minimum of continuously updated knowledge. I emphasize that point.

Your politics could be liberal or conservative, more to the left or more to the right, just as all members in this room are. But not just anyone can be a member. The current members do no criminological analysis, complete no actuarial evaluation grid and establish no correctional treatment plans. Anything to do with the diagnosis and prognosis of criminal behaviour is the sole responsibility of the parole officer. When we talk about criminal behaviour, there are not two, three, four or five experts, there's only one. That is the parole officer, who more likely than not, has a degree in criminology.

The Correctional Service of Canada has a mandate to recommend or not recommend inmates, and it is on the basis of the written recommendations, and only then, that the board can make a decision whether or not to broaden an inmate's parole conditions at a hearing.

When you are looking for someone to blame, if you are only looking from the top at the board's appointment process without considering how things are done at the Correctional Service of Canada, you are going down the wrong path.

I can comment on Eustachio Gallese's case only with reservations, since I do not have his file.

Although this case of association with prostitutes is not an isolated situation over time—the union president even acknowledged that he was surprised by the response of the Commissioner of Correctional Services—I would point out that allowing a serious offender convicted of murder to repeatedly solicit services of a sexual nature for remuneration is an indictable offence punishable by a $1,000 fine under subsection 286.1(1)(a)(ii) and $5,000 for a repeat offence under subsection 286.1(1)(b). By authorizing him to visit a massage parlour, the Correctional Service of Canada made itself his pimp. The authorization was signed by the parole officer and co-signed by the authorities in place, that is, quality assurance officer and the immediate superior.

A further major error was that an inmate should never, ever, be placed in a federally regulated community residential centre when they have a serious record, particularly for anything involving murder and sexual assault. They should be placed in a community correctional centre.

So, not to confuse the public, because a lot of journalists have been providing primers for the average Canadian in the street, let me remind you that the difference is huge.

Community residential centres, or CRCs, are provincial halfway houses under contract with the federal government. These houses are much less costly than community correctional centres, which are federally operated and have experienced staff, professionals and, generally, for the Quebec region, criminologists. So, in these provincial halfway houses, provincial inmates sentenced to three, four, six, 10 or 18 months live side by side with inmates serving long sentences of 20 or 25 years, who are extremely serious offenders.

I would remind you that the Constitution provides for the separation of powers over prisons and penitentiaries. Here, we seem to be mixing the two, but we shouldn't. Provincial inmates fall under provincial jurisdiction. Federal inmates fall under federal jurisdiction. In a CRC, the staff consists of a night guard and a day guard, group facilitators, a few workers, and a lot of internship students and volunteers. Inmates staying at a CRC remain under the supervision of a correctional service liaison officer, who travels back and forth between the parole office and the community residential centre to meet with the inmates in their care.

In order to limit, not eliminate, a person's risk of recidivism—there is no such thing as zero risk, it's a farce, it's an illusion, it's part of the propaganda—there should be three members. I remember a time when there were four for murder cases. For all murder cases, there should be three members, as was the case 20 years ago. Of course, you will tell me that it is a costly measure, that it requires a much larger pool, but you can't put a price on public safety. I will come back to some of the factors around this issue.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen of the committee.

8:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

Thank you, Mr. Bensimon.

Mr. Blackburn, you have 10 minutes, please.

March 12th, 2020 / 8:55 a.m.

Dave Blackburn Former Member at Parole Board of Canada, As an Individual

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I'd also like to thank the committee members.

For the sake of transparency, I want to mention at the outset that I was a Conservative candidate in the 2019 election.

I must say that I'm extremely sad and dismayed by the fate of Marylène Levesque. This woman should never have been stabbed to death by a repeat murderer. The wolf was given sheep's clothing. As a result, the predictable happened. Why? Because the board had been deprived of its ability to carry out its mandate.

This murder is the result of a series of major systemic flaws within the Correctional Service of Canada, or CSC, the Parole Board of Canada, or PBC, and the halfway house.

The Prime Minister's Office also bears a significant amount of responsibility for what led to this sordid murder. Changes to the appointment process for members have had a disastrous impact on the operation of this independent administrative tribunal. Canadians, the family of Marylène Levesque and the daughter of Chantal Deschênes, who was killed by Mr. Gallese in 2004, therefore expect clear answers about the failings of CSC and the PBC, and about what will be done to ensure that women are protected in Canada.

I will now turn to the first point of the motion, the decision by the PBC. Members Lainé and Fortin made the wrong decision on September 19, 2019, to renew Mr. Gallese's day parole. Those two members had little experience in assessing the risk of federal offenders. There were some complexities in this case. They were unable to take appropriate action to protect society from this murderer.

During the hearing, both members were briefed on the strategy of the offender's case management team, which was to allow the offender to meet with women to address his sexual needs, based on his transparency.

Since this was new information, the members should have obtained more details about the strategy in order to properly assess the risk Mr. Gallese posed to the public and to women.

Moreover, the members wrote only a few lines about the inappropriate nature of the strategy, without reviewing the risk or taking proper protective measures. Personally, I do not see how a strategy allowing Mr. Gallese to meet with women to fulfill his sexual needs could have represented a social reintegration perspective. I have never seen a strategy like that used in my entire career, and I'm alarmed at the comments of the Union of Safety and...

8:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

Excuse me, Mr. Blackburn.

We're into some delicate territory here as to evidence. There's evidence that's direct evidence; there's indirect evidence, and then there's hearsay. If you're going to cite, make reference to something, it would be helpful if you could cite it so that we're relying on evidence as opposed to what might be something somebody said about something. That would be helpful in terms of the committee's deliberations.

I say that to all of the witnesses for the purposes of trying to stay within the parameters of evidence as opposed to what others say about something else.

I'll let you go forward, and certainly we're not going to penalize you in terms of time, and I appreciate your presentation.

Thank you.

8:55 a.m.

Former Member at Parole Board of Canada, As an Individual

Dave Blackburn

In all likelihood, the strategy did not protect all women and implied that there are “sub-women” in our society, which is outrageous.

Finally, CSC and the halfway house need to explain their lax approach to supervision.

On the second point in the motion, members interested in renewal were, in the past, required to write a letter to the chairperson. The chairperson would then decide whether or not to recommend renewal to the minister's office. This procedure made it possible to renew the appointment of deserving members who wished to continue serving Canada.

In March 2016, when my annual evaluation was conducted, I told the vice-chairperson of Quebec about my interest in seeking a renewal. He informed me that the Trudeau government was going to implement a new process for appointing members. Some time later, the national office explained to me that I had to apply and start the whole process all over again. The old process for renewing members therefore no longer existed.

In the meantime, a group of about 10 members from Quebec, including myself, began discussing the impact of the changes in the appointment process on the PBC's mandate.

There was no doubt in our minds that these changes would have a major impact on PBC operations, on the erosion of member expertise, knowledge and experience, on the lack of mentoring at hearings by experienced members, on the work environment and on the mental strain on members and staff.

In late November 2017, we sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to the Minister of Public Safety and to the Clerk of the Privy Council expressing our serious concerns.

I am quoting from this letter:

It is well known that an organization such as ours requires new members on a regular basis. But it also needs a sufficient number of experienced members with good performance records in order to pass on corporate memory, mentor new members who require 18 to 24 months of training, and maintain the very high quality decisions needed to protect the public. Our primary mandate is to protect the public and we are concerned that this mandate is currently at risk.

In addition, we asked the Prime Minister to keep the member renewal process in place. Neither Mr. Trudeau, Mr. Goodale nor Mr. Wernick responded to the letter. Why is that?

The content of the letter was of the utmost importance, as it alerted them to the potential impact on protecting Canadian society.

On January 11, 2018, I finished my term on the board without knowing what would happen. In April 2018, I was interviewed for less than 30 minutes by a selection committee, none of whom had worked as a member.

I believe that the crux of the problem in the Gallese case is directly related to the new appointment process put in place by the Trudeau government. As a result of this new process, the board has lost considerable autonomy and independence to recruit members. Because of this, the majority of those with experience and who had been appointed by the previous government were ousted.

The new process was unique, in that it included a selection committee member from the Prime Minister's Office.

In addition, the executive vice-chairperson appointed in 2018, Sylvie Blanchet, whose husband had a well known relationship with an influential Liberal minister from New Brunswick, also sat on the selection committee. The inclusion of Ms. Blanchet and a member of her staff allowed the Prime Minister to influence the decisions about who would and would not be shortlisted for appointment. Moreover, eliminating the renewal process for experienced members forced them to overhaul the entire appointment process.

This new process was the Trudeau government's way of cleaning house, of selecting whomever it wanted. Unfortunately, there is every reason to believe that these choices were made at the expense of public safety.

The board has not been able to absorb the sudden shock of an almost complete changing of the guard of its members in the space of a few months. Much of the difficult work of a member is learned on the ground, making quality decisions on cases and participating in hearings. Experienced members act as mentors by transferring the practical knowledge, experience and, most importantly, expertise needed to conduct risk assessments. Hence the obvious and valid practice of pairing an experienced member with a new member at hearings.

That's exactly what was missing in the specific case of Eustachio Gallese. Members with the experience and expertise required would have detected that the strategy would directly lead to an increased risk of recidivism and put society at risk.

Make no mistake: in 2018, the PBC Quebec region underwent a real purge of its experienced members. The numbers speak for themselves: only two out of 16 experienced members survived the purge. None of the other appointments were renewed, with no word of an explanation. That therefore means that 14 new members were appointed.

To add to this nonsense, I have learned that the members who signed the letter to the Prime Minister were investigated by the Liberal Research Bureau. An anonymous source sent me a document outlining the results of the investigation on me, which dates from the spring of 2018. This is extremely worrisome and it is not an acceptable practice in a rule-of-law country like Canada.

The changes to the appointment process have, in my view, had a direct incidence on section 3.1 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. That section states that “the protection of society is the paramount consideration for the Service in the corrections process.”

I would like to conclude my remarks by stating loud and clear that the internal investigation commissioned by the Minister of Public Safety will not shed light on the full extent of the failings that led to the murder of Marylène Levesque, nor will it consider the possibility that the strategy applied by the parole officer, approved by his case management team and endorsed by board members, may bear some curious resemblance to criminal negligence.

Consequently, it is imperative that an external investigation be carried out by former members or former judges and that the full results be made public. The fundamental objective is to understand the shortcomings that occurred in this sad case and to correct them as soon as possible. This strategy not only affects sex workers, but our entire society as well.

It is also in Canada's interest to learn about correctional and parole practices in other countries, including the United Kingdom, where in some cases, three members sit in on hearings and may be assisted by mental health or criminology experts. Members with political affiliations are also clearly identified.

Moreover, to get specific answers with respect to the new appointment process, it seems essential and consequential that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau be questioned, as he spearheaded the changes. In this case, a murder could have been prevented.

Finally, I offer my sincere condolences to the family and friends of Marylène Levesque.

9:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

Thank you, Mr. Blackburn.

Ms. Latimer, you have 10 minutes, please.

9:05 a.m.

Catherine Latimer Executive Director, John Howard Society of Canada

Thank you very much, Chair.

Thank you, committee members, for the opportunity to be here.

The John Howard Society of Canada would like to extend its condolences to the family and friends of Marylène Levesque.

The death of a young woman is undeniably tragic, but to learn that she was murdered by a parolee who had killed a woman before is devastating. I think we all hold the belief that someone under sentence for a murder, subjected to strict conditions and monitored by state officials in the community, ought not to have been able to take someone's life.

While it is rare for a parolee to commit a violent offence, let alone murder, I think a full and impartial investigation into how it happened is needed to ensure that the mistakes are identified and corrected.

We hope that having this parliamentary committee seized with the review of events leading to Ms. Levesque's death will lend objectivity and transparency to the process.

I'd just like to indicate that I am not familiar with the particular facts of this situation, so I have no direct evidence to offer the committee. I do know that violent offending by people serving their sentence in the community after prison is rare and has been declining. I think you'll find that when you look at the statistical reporting on this.

If I can comment on the implications of Mr. Blackburn's presentation, I think a reliance on the ways of former board members and thinking that is a better way might well be contraindicated by the statistical indication of improvements to the way in which the parole boards are making decisions. That being said, I think it's very important that there be a full investigation that tries to identify what the actual problems were in this particular case.

As has been pointed out, decisions about release are a confusing area because it is both Correctional Service of Canada and the Parole Board of Canada that are intimately involved in coming up with the decisions for prisoners who are serving more than two years. They share the responsibility for release. That means preparing prisoners for release; deciding when they should be released and what conditions they should follow; monitoring compliance with those conditions; and suspending and revoking releases if the risk cannot be safely managed in the community.

The challenge is knowing which agency is responsible for what part of that continuum. It's not entirely clear because the word “parole” factors in it all, which leads to some misperceptions and some public misunderstanding about who's responsible for what.

CSC is responsible for preparing prisoners for release, usually through correctional plans, and monitoring compliance with conditions when they're in the community, which are established by the Parole Board.

That's essentially the operational wing of this. They're dealing face to face with the prisoners in the correctional facilities and in the communities; preparing them and seeing if there is progress being made against these correctional plans.

The Parole Board of Canada decides when people should be released if they are eligible, what conditions apply to their release and whether conditional releases should be revoked. They're the decision-makers. They're pretty much reliant on evidence coming from CSC in terms of the factors upon which their decisions should be based.

These are difficult tasks, and they're guided by risk assessment tools and an understanding of an individual's criminogenic factors. Predicting future behaviour is never absolute. As I mentioned, the statistics suggest that this is working well and in fact improving in terms of community safety.

Clearly something went wrong in this case, with tragic consequences for Ms. Levesque.

While both CSC and the Parole Board of Canada are conducting reviews, many of us favour an external review to ensure transparency. However, external reviews run the risk of overly harsh constraints and a culture of risk aversion to address public fears. This, in the long run, can undermine public safety.

In the federal prison population, about two-thirds of those in there are there for having committed violent offences. There is a past evidence of violence for a good chunk of the people whom we're dealing with.

Roughly one-quarter of the total federal prison population are serving indeterminate sentences. They can only get into the community through parole. Three-quarters of the federal population have determinate-length sentences set by sentencing judges, and they will be released into the community whether or not CSE and the Parole Board of Canada think it's a good idea.

I think that Chairperson Oades, when she appeared, indicated that about 60% of the conditional releases are due to statutory requirements and are not at the discretion of the Parole Board. Members of this group generally are not getting the correctional programming and reintegration support they need.

Most concerning to me are the high-risk, high-needs prisoners who have been detained by the Parole Board of Canada until warrant expiry or until the very end of their sentences, based on the fear that they would commit a serious personal injury offence before the expiry of their sentences if they were released earlier.

After the end of their sentences, they would no longer count as a failure of the paroling or conditional release system, but they are no less likely to commit an offence. They are being asked to find their way, often after long periods of prison, with no support from Correctional Services.

We have prepared a number of podcasts, called “Voices Inside and Out”. The first two episodes are talking to two prisoners who were released at warrant expiry, and I think there is a real concern about that.

To address public safety, our view is that Correctional Service of Canada and the Parole Board of Canada need to apply resources and efforts to higher-risk prisoners and not focus efforts simply on lower-risk prisoners who might well be more successful on day parole.

I would worry about any recommendations coming from review committees that have the effect of discouraging CSC and the Parole Board of Canada from preparing all federal prisoners for reintegration and supporting their graduated and supported supervised release. Risk aversion that can happen as a result of tragic incidents have a price in terms of public safety, and I think we need to be worried about that.

I am very hopeful that MP Bragdon's Bill C-226, which proposes a federal framework to reduce recidivism, will receive second reading and come to this committee. It would provide an opportunity to make progress on reducing recidivism and promoting community safety for all.

I know that some are asking for this committee to look beyond the situation of Mr. Gallese and Mademoiselle Levesque to look at the general competence of the Parole Board and the efficacy of their appointment processes. If they are proposing to do that, I think you also need to look at those who have been breached in the community, had their parole suspended and have been treated unfairly by the processes, as indicated by the courts.

I raise in particular as evidence of this the case of Jim DeMaria, who had been released by the Parole Board and had served in the community for 20 years without breaching, and then he breached, was suspended and was placed into corrections for having attended two weddings that were approved by his parole officer. He has been in there for about six or seven years with a consistent failure being recognized by the courts to deal with him in a fair and impartial manner.

I think there is clear evidence of the kind of rigidity and risk aversion that can hurt people's rights, security interests and public safety if there is too much of an emphasis on being overly cautious with it, but in any event, we need to understand what mistakes were made that led to the death of that particular woman.

I wish this committee all the best in coming to terms with that, and if I can be of any assistance, I would be delighted to do so.

9:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

Thank you, Ms. Latimer.

Mr. Paul-Hus, you have the floor for six minutes.

9:15 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for being with us this morning.

Mr. Blackburn, last Tuesday, when we met with the chairperson of the Parole Board of Canada, Ms. Oades, we talked about the members' experience. That is part of the study related to our motion.

In the 2018 purge, institutional experience was completely eliminated to make room for new people. Ms. Oades said she felt experience meant having a number of cases under one's belt.

In your opinion, what does it mean to have experience as a member?

9:15 a.m.

Former Member at Parole Board of Canada, As an Individual

Dave Blackburn

Right off the bat, I can say that I disagree with that. A person could manage a lot of cases, but if the cases are poorly supervised or if the decisions are not quality ones, what does that accomplish at the end of the day? In fact, in the members' annual evaluation, one of the criteria, actually, is the quality of decision-making. The focus is much more on quality than quantity.

As my colleague mentioned, in terms of the experience of being a member, part of it is learned on the job, especially during the first five or six weeks of training. That's one thing. You learn about the various components of the board. Then there is the work on the ground. The experienced members are there to provide coaching and mentoring.

There's also everything before that. This is something that needs to be emphasized, because it's important. What educational qualifications are required to apply for a position as a member? What is their field of study? Is it criminology, social work or some other field that is more or less related to the board's work? Also, field experience and expertise in specialized fields should be considered. We don't just handle files. That is not true.

9:15 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

I am going to talk about Mr. Gallese's case specifically. We have learned that parts of the plan were rejected by the members. But Gallese was still let out. What do you think the members should have decided at that time?

9:15 a.m.

Former Member at Parole Board of Canada, As an Individual

Dave Blackburn

From my perspective, this is a problem. During the course of a hearing, we may receive new information. That is what happened in this case. It was during the hearing that they learned there was a strategy allowing this man to meet women to fulfill his sexual needs. This new information must be taken into account. You have to be able to get all the details in order to assess whether it has an impact on the risk posed by the offender.

9:15 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Does the decision of the two members come from a lack of experience, a lack of judgment or both?

9:15 a.m.

Former Member at Parole Board of Canada, As an Individual

Dave Blackburn

I would say it's both a lack of experience and a lack of judgment. Clearly, a strategy like this makes no sense. It is throwing women who are already vulnerable, women who work in the sex trade, into the lion's den.

In my view, day parole should have been rescinded immediately, pending the Correctional Service providing more information on that strategy. That way, the risk could have been properly assessed. Mr. Gallese could also have been placed under house arrest, with permission to go to work only.

9:15 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Do you have a copy of the letter that the eight former members wrote to the Prime Minister in November 2017?

9:15 a.m.

Former Member at Parole Board of Canada, As an Individual

Dave Blackburn

Yes, I have a copy of that letter.

9:15 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Chair, I would like the letter to be tabled with the committee so that we can learn more about it. Thank you.

Mr. Blackburn, let's talk about the work environment at the parole board after 2015. Would you describe it as negative or satisfactory? How are things at the board?

9:15 a.m.

Former Member at Parole Board of Canada, As an Individual

Dave Blackburn

It has changed because of the pace of work. I can give you a specific example. It's not complicated, I would get there at 8:00 a.m., especially when we had to vote on certain files. I would take 10 minutes to eat, and I would get back on the train at 4:30 p.m. I can tell you that things had to be done quickly if you wanted to meet the daily quota of files. It was not uncommon for me to experience anxiety on the train. Sometimes I wondered whether I had made a decision too quickly. There have been changes. It had an impact on the members and the hearing officers. In fact, some of them went on sick leave at that time. There have been changes. Also, as time went on, experienced members left. Let's not forget that some positions remained unfilled in 2016, 2017 and 2018. This created an overload for the members who were still there.

9:15 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Thank you, Mr. Blackburn.

Professor Bensimon, parole officer Sophie Grégoire had given Mr. Gallese the right to visit the massage parlour once a month. Beyond the Gallese case, is there a systemic problem with community supervision?

9:20 a.m.

Criminologist, As an Individual

Dr. Philippe Bensimon

Sir, I will answer very clearly. There is a lot of waste within the Correctional Service. There are two major groups of professionals that we should pay close attention to. We should double the number of parole officers in the institutions and quadruple the number of parole officers in the community. Why do we need four times as many in the community? It is simply because when the inmate is out on day parole, on parole or on statutory release, there are no guards to supervise him or her. The parole officer is on his own. That is why Correctional Service deals with community residential centres. These are centres where the staff can be very dynamic. There can be people who love their work. That is not the point. We do not mix federal inmates with provincial inmates, unless, of course, the federal inmate is convicted of sentences of less than six or seven years or of acquisitive offences.

The Correctional Service collects major events. I would point out that there have even been parole officers who have been killed in the line of duty. Each time, preventive measures are adopted and committees are set up. We will remember the case of Celia Ruygrok, a young criminologist who was murdered at the Kirkpatrick CRC in Ottawa, which is part of the John Howard Society. The Correctional Service had established that if an inmate convicted of acts of violence and placed under a curfew exceeded the curfew by 10 minutes, the suspension process would be initiated.