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Comparison of the Canadian Pardon System to the United States and Britain

Article by Pat Boardman

This article gives facts on differences in the method of issuing pardons. People who have criminal records are given a second chance in society by applying for a pardon so they can be recognized as having shown good behavior after serving their sentences, completing any probationary period, and paying all outstanding fines. The Parole Board of Canada is responsible for making decisions regarding pardons. They can grant, deny, or revoke them; however a criminal record in Canada is not erased, it is just separated in a judicial record.

When a person has been charged and found guilty of a crime in Canada he will be dealing with a criminal justice system that is comfortably in between the British and U.S. systems insofar as filing a successful pardon application. As one might expect, British law involves a lot of pomp, moustache-twirling, and royal decrees to enunciate the wishes of Her Majesty concerning the interaction between the government and the criminals. The pardon procedure in the U.K. is very discretionary and when the Crown is successfully petitioned to grant a pardon it does not remove the conviction, only the sentence attached to the conviction.

The Canadian political and legal models evolved from the British tradition into a more realistic and humanistic effort to reform criminals rather than ostracize them for life. Without the opportunity to get a good job and have freedom to travel, the only option for many is to return to crime if there’s no way to clear the record or get a U.S. entry waiver. This is paritally caused by the practice of jailing; prisoners in jail make connections with other criminals and all of them want favors done on the outside from those getting out before them. Larger networks of criminal association are developed later on since the only people you meet in jail are other criminals.

Pardons Canada is forward-thinking in terms of basic rehabilitation so that crime will not breed more crime. The government has fewer problems with guns and homicides than the U.S. so the prison system is not as strained with overcrowding. There are none of the draconian life sentences for getting three strikes so there are fewer guests of the state being housed and fed. In Canada pardon servicesassist convicted persons to qualify for unrestricted employment and travel, however they may need USA entry waivers to cross the border.

In the United States the authority for granting pardons is the President. It has been demonstrated in the U.S. that wholesale jailing has led to an epidemic of lawlessness since prisons can serve as places to form gangs and make connections. Officers with 20 to 30 years of experience who are members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) are adamant that the prison population is full of non-violent offenders – so overcrowded that new facilities have to be built constantly. The resources spent on guards, food, and administration is enormous and takes away from enforcement budgets. The message is that protecting citizens from violence should be the first priority.

Incarceration creates a violent atmosphere that can magnify the anti-social behavior of inmates. Researchers have found that in the long term, the practice of jailing creates as many problems as it solves. An institution requires funding for guards, administration staff, daily meals, bedding, medical care, and many things that normal citizens struggle to maintain without help from the state. There have been cases where young people find it easier to get arrested and go to prison than to survive on the outside. This state of affairs has not gone unnoticed by the governments and there has often been a reaction when the funding is strained. It results in releasing non-violent prisoners to ease the crowding, but there will always be a few getting out that should have remained locked up.

About the Author

Pat Boardman is an SEO Consultant and published novelist writing this in regards to Assured Pardons, a National Company with offices in Toronto and Vancouver to assist those with criminal records to obtain a pardon, U.S. entry waivers, and to help with criminal record destruction to clear arrest records where no conviction was entered.

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