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.