What is it and how does it benefit me in terms of obtaining a Record Suspension (formerly Pardon)?
The Parole Board of Canada requires all Record Suspension applicants to complete the Measurable Benefit/Sustained Rehabilitation Form. This is your opportunity to demonstrate how you have improved your circumstances since your conviction(s) and explain why receiving a record suspension will assist in your continued rehabilitation.
One of the most important steps in obtaining a Record Suspension is completing the Measurable Benefit Form. Essentially, Measurable Benefit in this case, means that granting you the Record Suspension would improve your life in some ‘measurable’ way and allow you to move on from your past.
The Parole Board wants to know that you have made deliberate attempts to change your life, that you aim to live as a good citizen, and that you want to improve upon your community. They want to know that your mistakes in the past won’t be a factor in the future and that your life will ultimately be benefited from granting you the Record Suspension.
An important piece of filling out the Measurable Benefit form is where the individual must detail all of their convictions and the circumstances around them. While some people find writing this letter either cathartic or healing, many others find it very difficult, depressing, and sometimes downright terrifying. It’s challenging for many to relive the mistakes they’re made, when all they want to do is move on from their past.
At Pardon Services Canada, we get many calls from clients who are having a difficult time writing about the circumstances around their convictions. This is understandable! In some cases, these ‘mistakes’ were made 20 or more years ago, when they were young and more reckless, wanted to fit in with the wrong crowd, or were going through a serious transition in their lives. Issues like death, divorce, financial instability, or addictions issues can alter people’s behavior and make them act unpredictably.
The most important thing to remember is that answers on this form must be as detailed as possible. The Parole Board does not want to read one word answers or that someone has “forgotten” the circumstances surrounding the offence. Although it may be painful to dredge up the particulars of a lifestyle you no longer recognize, being granted a Record Suspension will free you from the stigma associated with that lifestyle.
Here is one client’s example of an answer to Question 1.
Clearly indicate how a record suspension would provide you with a measurable benefit and how it would sustain your rehabilitation into society as a law-abiding citizen:
“It would help me to obtain new employment opportunities and help me provide for my family. I would also be allowed to volunteer at my church. I could finally put the past behind me and give back to my community”.
And an example of another client’s answer to Question 2.
Describe all positive changes you have already made to improve your situation since your conviction.
“I am now 45 years old. I realized a long time ago what I did was wrong. I was young and stupid. I have kids now and I’m married. I teach my kids to follow the law, and to be responsible”
Finally, here is one woman’s example of her answer to Question 3. on the Measurable Benefit Form.
Describe the circumstances and how/why each of the offences was committed:
“It was Christmas time of 1990 and my marriage had just collapsed. My two young daughters were visiting their Father. I was depressed and I had no money for Christmas presents. I was walking around looking in a store and I put two sweaters in my bag as gifts for my daughter as I couldn’t afford them. It was so stupid but I was full of desperation. Since then, my life has turned around and I would never even think of doing this!”
These three important questions provide an opportunity for you to explain why a record suspension is personally important to you and how it would improve your current circumstances. Remember that once the Record Suspension application is completed and you are on your way to your criminal conviction records being sealed, you will be on your way to important life changes. Keep in mind that a Record Suspension will grant you the ability to:
- Pursue new employment opportunities
- Volunteer in your community
- Travel Freely
- Remove Social Stigma
- Improve Financial Stability
Changes that will ultimately free you from that negative black mark on your history and put your past behind you!