MLA Mark Smith. File photo.

MLA Mark Smith. File photo.

MLA Mark Smith: Alberta Parole Board

MLA Mark Smith on Alberta’s newly established Alberta Parole Board

Alberta Parole Board

This week, Alberta’s government announced the membership of the newly established Alberta Parole Board. This announcement is part of a broader set of concrete actions designed to get a fair deal for Albertans by ending the agreement with the Parole Board of Canada. The Alberta Parole Board will oversee parole hearings for inmates serving sentences for fewer than two years in provincial correctional institutions, and allow Alberta to continue to assert its jurisdictional authority and create a more responsive justice system that reflects the needs of our province’s communities.

The new, independent Alberta Parole Board will provide a fairer, faster, more responsive and responsible justice system that better protects Albertans, their loved ones and their property from repeat offenders, including parolees. A provincial parole board will help end the “revolving” door of the justice system that often enables repeat offenders to target Albertans, particularly those living in rural areas.

Given the lack of action taken by the federal government in addressing Alberta’s request for a fair deal in Canadian Confederation, Alberta’s government must continue to assert its jurisdictional authority where it can. By creating the Alberta Parole Board, Alberta’s government is ensuring that life-altering decisions regarding parole eligibility are made by and for Albertans.

The provincial parole board is comprised solely of Albertans from across the province. Chairing the board will be former chief of the Calgary Police Service and former Chief Superintendent of the RCMP K Division, Rick Hanson. The remaining members include Northland School Board trustee Randy Anderson, ALTIA-ABM Inc. vice-president Paul M. Bourassa, former Central Alberta Mental Health Review Board Chair Craig Paterson, Alberta Health Services project manager Shelly Takacs, lawyer Angela Tripathy and Mackenzie County councillor Lisa Wardley.

Each of these Albertans will be serving either two or three-year terms. We are confident that the experience each of these individuals bring to the table will help them carry out the important work they have been tasked with.

The Alberta Parole Board will act as a safeguard against repeat offenders targeting families and properties, particularly in our rural communities. This week’s announcement follows legislation that Alberta’s government passed last summer to respond to the needs of its citizens, especially rural Albertans who have been victimized by repeat offenders for property crimes.

Alberta is the third province to establish its own parole board, joining Ontario and Quebec. The board will formally begin its operations on Monday, Feb. 1.

I can be reached at the main constituency office in Drayton Valley at 1-800-542-7307 toll-free Monday to Friday, the Devon constituency office at 780-987-3666 Wednesdays and Thursdays or emailed at draytonvalley.devon@assembly.ab.ca anytime.

—MLA Mark Smith