The federal parole officers office has been slow to make parole decisions about people with severe mental illness, but it’s clear that they’re trying to speed things up.
According to a new Globe and Mail investigation, it’s been three years since the federal agency made a decision about when to release people with a serious mental illness who are no longer dangerous.
The parole officer’s office made that decision in July 2016.
But it took more than three years before the parole officers were given a copy of the federal government’s final report on the condition of parolees.
And it took another three years to get a copy from the provincial parole officers’ office, which was tasked with deciding whether to release someone.
The federal government released the parole report in 2016.
In the past, it has released a draft of the final report, but not the final version.
But the federal Office of the Ombudsman, which oversees the parole system, told the Globe and the CBC that the federal review of the conditions of parole was “in the process of completion” and that the parole officer has been given a “substantial update” since then.
But while the federal office says it is in the process to release the paroleers’ final report “as soon as practicable,” it’s unclear whether the parolees’ final reports will be publicly available.
The final parole report from the federal ombudsman’s office says the conditions are “not likely to pose a risk to public safety.”
That could be a good thing.
According the federal report, there were 8,811 people in federal custody in the province of Nova Scotia in 2016-17.
In 2017-18, there are now 9,819 people in custody in Nova Scotia, a decline of 9,913 people.
The provincial parole office, on the other hand, has seen a 25 per cent increase in the number of people released under its supervision.
There are now an additional 18,766 people in the provincial system, an increase of 7,921 people.
But there are also problems with how the federal agencies parole officers are working.
The Globe and a group of parole officers from different provinces visited the federal prison in Halifax in January and heard about a system where people are sent to an institution when they are deemed “dangerous.”
The federal report says it’s not clear what happens if people are deemed dangerous when they enter the facility, but that “if a person is deemed dangerous and needs to be transferred from the correctional facility, the correctional staff are expected to assist in the transfer.”
In the end, the federal corrections officers told the parole office that they had a “significant backlog” of people being released.
In an email, the ombudsman wrote that the “tens of thousands” of dangerous people are being released each year “due to the lack of resources and staffing.”
It’s unclear how many of those dangerous people have been released, but according to the federal correctional officer, there has been a “largely successful effort” to reduce the number released.
The ombudsman also said there was a “high rate of return to the community” for people who were released, and the federal prisons system “continues to take the most significant steps to ensure that vulnerable people are released in an appropriate manner.”
The ombudsperson’s office said it has been “working with provincial and federal authorities on an ongoing review of how we manage our parole officers.”
“We will provide a final report when it is complete,” a spokesperson told the CBC.
“The Federal Correctional Service is committed to making sure that those released from our custody are appropriately monitored and cared for, as they make their way through the system and into their community.”