What should an observer know about a hearing?

When you enter the institution you will have a security check with a metal and drug scanner. Purses and briefcases will be searched and you may have to leave them in a locker. Cell phones and portable computers are not allowed inside the institution. Hearings may have to be postponed at the last minute and without advance notice. 

The board may not proceed if information that will be used in the decision-making process has not been shared with the offender (such as background reports on the offender or letters you have written) or if the offender or the offender’s assistant is not able to attend. Observers may be asked to leave the hearing temporarily while sensitive information is discussed. The hearing rooms in institutions are small and a victim’s family member could be sitting very close to the offender.

Note that observers (including families of homicide victims) have to pay for their own travel expenses and make their own arrangements to attend a National Parole Board hearing. There is no place to get reimbursement for travel expenses to attend a parole board hearing at the present time.

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

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