Does imprisonment mean that the offender spends all his or her time in prison?

No. Offenders are eligible for passes for escorted temporary absences and for unescorted temporary absences while they are serving their prison sentences. 

Inmates serving life terms must apply to the National Parole Board for an escorted temporary absence (ETA), unless it is for a medical reason. This is a pass for a federal inmate to leave the institution with an escort for a specific purpose, such as a family contact or to attend a funeral. Once the offender is within three years of his or her parole eligibility date, he or she can apply to the head of the institution for an ETA.

An unescorted temporary absence (UTA) is a pass granted to a federal inmate for temporary release from the institution for medical treatment, family contact, compassionate reasons, or personal development. Inmates serving life terms are not eligible for UTAs or day parole at all until they are within three years of their parole eligibility date.

The person making the decision about granting the passes must be confident that the inmate will not escape during an absence and if the person does escape, that he or she will not be a danger to anyone. The risk to society and the risk of the offender re-offending during an absence are key considerations.

Mennonite Central Committee Canada. (2011). Getting through the maze: A guidebook for survivors of homicide.

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