This is the last in a three-part series on proposed reforms to our justice system.
Until 1996, Canadian sentencing judges could impose a fine, a discharge, probation with various conditions, imprisonment or certain combinations of these. In 1996, Parliament added conditional sentences – a non-prison choice – to this list. It’s available for some cases that could otherwise have involved prison sentences of under two years; it’s never available for offenders deserving of a sentence of two years or more or who pose a danger to the community.
"House arrest” is usually one of the punitive conditions attached to conditional sentences. Hence, it’s often called “home detention.” Other conditions – punitive and therapeutic (community service and treatment, for example) – can be required. Conditional sentences must be proportionate to the gravity of the offence. And unlike prison sentences, offenders serving conditional sentences must serve their full sentences – there’s no parole or remission.