Tbnewswatch Local News
Sunday July 5 2015
8:52 AM EDT
2014-01-14 at 15:31

Seeking pardons

John Howard Society program manager Kevin Haynen discuss the process to obtain a criminal record suspension during a workshop on Tuesday.
Matt Vis, tbnewswatch.com
John Howard Society program manager Kevin Haynen discuss the process to obtain a criminal record suspension during a workshop on Tuesday.
By Matt Vis, tbnewswatch.com

Criminal record suspensions can be the key for a real second chance for people trying to live life after a conviction.

But getting that second chance is becoming more difficult and expensive.

The John Howard Society of Thunder Bay and District held a workshop at its Syndicate Avenue location Tuesday to discuss the process and changes that have been made to the pardon process in February 2012.

“When I started working with individuals in obtaining record suspension the cost fee to the National Parole Board of Canada was $50,” said Kevin Haynen, program manager at the John Howard Society.

“As of February 2012 it has been changed to $631.”

In addition to the costs, Haynen said there is a stronger requirement in supplying court related documents, criminal reference checks as well as a doubling in the amount of time from five to 10 years.

All of those requirements complicates the process.

Haynen said employment is the primary motivation for people to have their past indiscretions hidden. He added that more employers are requesting record checks and it is becoming increasingly common for candidates to be dismissed for having an offence.

“It’s made the process more onerous on the individuals that is trying to do it themselves,” Haynen said.

“What I’ve done in my role is be willing to meet with them to set up times to discuss the process and talk about and do some planning around how to get it done in an efficient manner and reduce the chances that the application returned because of what is often a clerical error.”

There were more than 30 people in attendance for the session, which is one in a series of discussions the John Howard Society hosts surrounding various justice issues.

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Jon Powers says:
blueox :

You still haven't answered the simple question.

Why are "Non-Violent Offenders" being treated in the same manner as a "Violent Offender"?

Also A Pardon/Record-Susspesion does not remove your record it is placed in a separate list. And also the "Judical Seal" is only valid in Canada; So should they travel, foreign governments have access to it and can ask for special "Entry VISA'S" and stop entry.

Over 380,000 Canadians last year recieved "Criminal Records" some for Murder and other crimes of violence and others for Non-Violence like theift under $500.00 and simple Mary-jane Possession under 1oz. 2-3 cizs.

Your Government treats them the same and that is very wrong.

It's nice to see the Parole Board asking questions of "Offenders" as to Why?

The Government needs to be asked the same questions as to; Why keep a conviction on someone in the first place?

But that is "Too Consevative"

Great Story!
1/16/2014 2:42:50 PM
Undrgrnd says:
As I am in the process of a Record Suspension, I think I can shed some light on this topic. I think some people have the impression that you can just wait 5-10 years, pay your 631$ and BAM your now record-free. Believe me it's not that simple.

First off, it takes up to 2 years for an application to complete the process. The 631$ is the initial fee, with costs occurring throughout the 2 years. And during this time your case is being "evaluated" and by no means is a suspension guaranteed.

If you are a Sex Offender or have multiple violent convictions or multiple convictions resulting in a five year or more sentence then forget it, you have no chance. If you have a sever charge (murder, rape, ect.) then you have a difficult fight as it only takes one Parole Board member to deny you.

All that being said, do people really believe that someone who for ten years doesn't even get a speeding ticket doesn't deserve a chance at a decent wage to support a family and give back to society?
1/15/2014 1:22:40 PM
Jon Powers says:

I so very sorry that our Federal Government still considers Non-Violent Offenders a threat requiring a permanent "Criminal Record".

As someone who was in car accident as a small child with a drunk driver and almost killed I see no social value to convictions of just simple impaired opperation of a vehicle. There are better tools that the courts have at their disposel for basic substance abuse cases; " It's Conditional Discharges".


I am also verry sorry for your loss no the theift of your daughter. That person should have a permanent "Criminal Record".

You are quite right that the past and current "Pardon/Record-Suspension" does not take into consideration post victim impacts of an "Offeders" act(s). Their is no public hearing and these seals on records are made behind closed doors. With no public seeing how their taxes are being wasted.

Great Story ! Plus Posts!

1/15/2014 1:06:16 PM
blueox says:
Short of picketing John Howard Society, if you are disgusted that a criminal can abolish his record with a $631 cheque ...Contact the Minister,
The Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
284 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H8
Email: mcu@justice.gc.ca
I have no issue with people convicted with the hybrid offence of impaired driving...I have friends and know of lot of people who have good paying jobs and some 2 jobs and didn't need a pardon.
I'm going through the same thing 5 years later believing it would get better, it doesn't...

Thank You Jon
1/15/2014 4:05:18 PM
The Badger Mountain Hermit says:
I can only hope they'll dump our Two-Tier Lehgal System. The Rich buy their Justice, the rest of us...we just get more laws.
1/15/2014 8:22:02 AM
hotchoc says:
Instead of having a debate about the real issue being the Federal Governments continued attempts to keep crime front and centre as an election issue, we get a couple of these comments about taxpayers.

There is no proof that by raising the bar to 10 years for a pardon, we are doing anything for public safety. By raising the price we are making it more likely that people will find it harder to get off of welfare and get a job.

The "crime" going on here is this governments continued fear mongering about crime instead of building a better Canada. There is likely crime out in Alberta with what the tarsands are doing to the land and water.

Maybe some crime in the Senate or the PM's office.

This is one of those far right wing agenda issues that was unnecessary and may in the end have the opposite effect by increasing crime.
1/14/2014 9:34:21 PM
blueox says:
PARDON! Tell that to the lives destroyed by the criminal act of a leniently sentenced criminal. My daughter could have lived another 70 years and he gets a pardon for $631. I will be seeking a change to this with the higher anarchy, It's not enough, my family losses including the untimely horrific death of my daughter deserves better from this Justice System.
1/14/2014 5:23:41 PM
whatelseisnew says:
I honestly think $631 is plenty enough. Keep in mind that someone that murders, rapes serious crimes like that the convicted can pay the $631 all they want, it does not guaranty that they will ever have a clean record. On another note, its terrible that you lost a family member; in saying that the justice system will not bring back the death penalty for your case. Its been 6 years since the accident, has your family ever tried grief counselling because dwelling on it forever probably won't bring her back.
1/15/2014 8:30:52 PM
blueox says:
Where do you consider my daughter's death a accident? $631 Is A Insult to the victims of the crime! All my family wants is Justice, not a eye for eye. I have been suffering from PTSD and have not worked since her horrific death, unlike the criminal who used PTSD as a excuse for a lenient sentence. This will forever be a issue in my life. The people who don't know or understand will always be the ones who say Move On With Your Lives!
1/16/2014 1:42:52 PM
realist72 says:
You are sincerely welcome for that bit of jingoism.

I think it's fantastic when people can rebuild their lives and I support them 100%

I'm sure that it wasn't a cash grab that has caused the cost to rise though, and it feels like everyone expects that they should be getting services for free.

Without specifying what charges people are seeking pardons from, how can you make such blase comments about 'giving them another chance'?

I myself have an impaired charge from when I was 18 (23 years ago, almost 24 now) and it is still on my record. I have never made the attempt to have it pardoned, and I could certainly afford to.

Do you feel that I should have the luxury of an almost free search to clear up my own stupidity? If the cost was not increased to cover the wages of the workers involved, who are almost certainly government, then would it not stand to reason that either taxes are raised, or we as a society go further in debt?

I'm not sure I spelled blase correctly.FTR
1/14/2014 5:18:03 PM
tsb says:
"I myself have an impaired charge from when I was 18 (23 years ago, almost 24 now) and it is still on my record. I have never made the attempt to have it pardoned, and I could certainly afford to. "

Well, that's your problem.

It is much less expensive to provide a free criminal record suspension for these people than it is to have them sit at home and collect welfare for years because no one will employ them! Consider the LONG TERM cost benefit of the decision. If we make a bad decision now to save a few thousand dollars a year, it could cost us tens of thousands a year down the road in the form of lost income taxes, lost property taxes and lost local revenue because it will mean we lost a potential citizen who earns and spends their money here!
1/14/2014 9:01:01 PM
realist72 says:
That's the thing TSB, it's not and has never been a problem, at least not so far. Could it be in the future? Of course, and I'll cross that bridge when/if I ever come to it.

Read blueox's comment below this one, that is a much more valid comment on this issue.

1/15/2014 5:45:18 AM
bttnk says:
Ah yes TSB, but that would require the government not to be so blatantly short-sighted. That is, it is much easier to view the pardon process as a tangible cost, then it is to measure the cost on "the system" for those who don't get their pardon because they can't afford $631 and are not able to find emloyment. I don't know the true cost, but perhaps there is a middle ground? Perhaps this is the middle ground?
1/15/2014 9:25:15 AM
enos012 says:
I had an impared driving many years ago. That decision(my fault) put certain restriction on my future. Wanted to go to univeristy and take teaching and other jobs very of the list as well. I eventually had my record pardoned but like anyone they deserve a chance. Maybe someone realised the error of thier ways and wants to be a more positiv e person and get away fromthier past life but without a pardon work is almost impossible. So they go back to thier old ways and life of crime and you wonder why they are always in the system. Sometimes if that one person can get a break they are forever greatful.
1/14/2014 4:11:49 PM
unknowncronik says:
too many people judge by appearance in this town anyways...if you look a certain way, you must be a criminal...
yet in the real world, criminals are ALL AROUND YOU every day & you don't know the wiser because they r clean shaven & dressed nice...don't judge a book by its cover kinda deal...
many go back to crime because they never get another chance...
1/14/2014 11:49:48 PM
realist72 says:
Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

1/14/2014 3:52:00 PM
Thor Odinson says:
Thank you for that bit of jingoism. You realise the article is about people trying to become productive members of society AFTER they've done their time, right? Or do you want someone sitting around, not working, and being more of a draw on the rest of society? Why would you NOT want these people working? There is literally no benefit to anyone.
1/14/2014 4:28:31 PM
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