Federal parole office comes to Iqaluit

Halfway house for convicted offenders could follow.


Nunatsiaq News

IQALUIT — Canadian Corrections officials and Nunavut’s Department of Justice are considering a federal half-way house for Iqaluit.

“That’s just one of the ideas we’re considering,” says parole officer Mark Otto. Otto is the new area director for the first ever federal parole office to be located in Iqaluit.

Before Nunavut was created, federal parole programs were run out of an office in Yellowknife. Now Otto is in charge of supervising parolees across Nunavut.

Relying on a network of social workers to monitor parolees in various communities, Otto fills a unique role in the Canadian corrections system.

Normally, an area director oversees the day-to-day management of a parole office. It’s the district director who usually handles the more political issues, such as whether to establish a halfway house.

But because Otto’s district director works out of Fenbrook, a medium security institution north of Toronto, Otto says he finds himself doing more than your average area director.

“There may not be the political will for (a halfway house). We’re also looking at possibly providing training up here for delivery of federal programs,” Otto continues. That could mean programs aimed at anger management, stopping family violence and drug addiction.

Among the programs that the parole office, located in building 1043, does offer are pardon applications, and victim registration.

“There’s a limited number of things we can tell someone about offenders. If a person is a victim they’re entitled to know more information,” says Otto.

He explains that by registering with his office, victims can be notified ahead of time about the movements of the criminal who hurt them. If a convict gets an early parole or some other form of release their victims will be notified.

“It’s better if they know,” says Otto.

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