Record Suspension

The Facts:

 

  1. The Conservative Government under Stephen Harper introduced the Tough on Crime Omnibus Bill C-10 in 2012 which made it more difficult for criminalized individuals to apply and be granted a Pardon/Record Suspension.
  2. Bill C-10 increased the wait times to apply for a Record Suspension from 3-5 years to 5- 10 years.
  3. Bill C-10 increased the fee from $150. to $631. In addition, the applicant is responsible to cover the cost of fingerprinting and obtaining court and police records which brings the actual cost closer to $1000.
  4. Many employers, landlords, volunteer organizations and Government social service agencies (i.e.: applying to foster or adopt children who may or may not be family members) require a Criminal Record Check.
  5. Stephen Harper gave the US government access to CPIC and they do not recognize Record Suspensions, so even if granted a Record Suspension, criminalized individuals are not eligible to visit the US.


The Reality:

  1. Decades of research have shown that one key factor to reducing crime and recidivism is to make a positive and healthy integration back into the community as easy as possible.
  2. Criminalized people are vulnerable and marginalized people. It is a well-known fact that there is a gross overrepresentation of Indigenous people – men, women and youth who are incarcerated and criminalized. Indigenous women are the fastest growing prison population in Canada. We also know that over 60% of incarcerated and criminalized women have a child under the age of 18.
  3. Having a criminal record is stigmatizing. The principle behind our criminal justice system is to punish an individual for their behaviour and to correct that behaviour through rehabilitation once they have served their sentence and debt to society, however, in reality, having a criminal record becomes a life sentence of discrimination, restriction and oppression under the current Record Suspension system due to the barriers of time and money.
  4. The increased wait times to begin an application for a Record Suspension are too long. Waiting 5-10 years to begin the application process is in effect adding this length of time to their sentence.
  5. The increase in cost is prohibitive. It is too high and discriminatory to marginalized and oppressed people. How can we reasonably expect a criminalized person to produce an extra $1000 when we have already restricted their ability to get a job?
  6. The actual application process is also restrictive due to its onerous list of steps and requirements. It requires the individual to have access to a computer, they must navigate difficult bureaucratic government and law enforcement departments and processes. They must fill out complex forms in an exacting manner and rely on the very system that charged, convicted and jailed them for support if needed to get through the process. This is a barrier.
  7. Allowing the US Government access to CPIC knowing that they do not recognize Record Suspensions is unacceptable. In fact, it hands our Canadian criminalized individuals a life sentence of restricting their movements and violates their earned right to freedom.


Changes Needed:

 

  1. Eliminate the need for Record Suspensions. Once someone has served their sentence, they should be free and treated as any other citizen in Canada.
  2. If you are not in support of eliminating the need for Record Suspensions, then rescind the changes to the process created by Bill C-10: Eliminate waiting periods and application fees. These are perpetuating the criminalization, stigmatization and victimization of our most vulnerable and marginalized members of society. Being criminalized and stigmatized does not just effect the individual – it affects their families, their children and their communities. The research backs this up. Criminalized individuals need our support and compassion to integrate into society in a positive and pro-social way.
  3. Rescind permission and access of CPIC to the US Government. They are using the information in a way that further criminalizes and stigmatizes our Canadian citizens in a way that violates their human rights.