Conditional Imprisonment: A Troubled Past and an Uncertain Future

AuthorJulian Roberts and David Cole
Conditional Imprisonment:
A Troubled Past and an Uncertain
Julian Roberts and David Cole*
Every complete deprivation of the liberty of movement, or limitation
within certain boundaries is an imprisonment, whether it be conne-
ment in a common prison or in a private house.
When most Canadians think about imprisonment, images of prisons
come to mind: Millhaven Institution, Stony Mountain Institution, or
Kingston Penitentiary. is conception of imprisonment fails to cap-
ture the dierent ways in which a term of custody may be discharged
or the many eects that a prison sentence may have upon the oender.
In Canada today, approximately half the individuals ordered to serve a
prison sentence are discharging part or all of the time in the commun-
ity. is chapter explores the most controversial form of imprisonment:
one where the entire sentence is served at home unless the oender
violates conditions.
Most oenders sentenced to a provincial-length term of imprison-
ment enter a custodial facility (provincial reformatory), where they
* Our thanks to Andrew Reid for comments on a previous draft.
Thus spake Blackstone in ; Henry Winthrop Ballantine, Blackstone’s Commentaries
(Chicago: American Law, General Studies, ) vol  at .
 |   
remain until released on temporary absence or parole, or their sentence
ends. However, some oenders who receive a sentence of imprison-
ment are permitted to serve their sentence while still living in the
community, subject to a set of potentially restrictive conditions. ese
individuals are serving a conditional sentence of imprisonment (here-
after, CSI). As the name implies then, the CSI is not an alternative to
custody but rather a way in which a sentence of imprisonment may be
served. ere are obvious parallels between CSI oenders and oend-
ers on parole who are also serving a prison sentence in the community,
under supervision and subject to conditions. Unjustied breach (or
even an anticipated breach) of these conditions should normally lead
to imprisonment for parolees and conditional sentence oenders alike.
is chapter explores this novel sanction introduced in  by Bill C-.
Initially conceived as continuous sequestration from open society,
imprisonment around the world now comes in several forms. Terms
of custody may be served continuously, wholly or partly intermittently
(usually on weekends), wholly or partly in the community, or partially
or fully suspended. e manifold versions of imprisonment provide
courts with greater exibility to accommodate the wide variation in the
circumstances of individual oenders — which cannot all be addressed
by a single mode of custody. Many jurisdictions have now created a
community-based form of imprisonment. Other examples include the
Home Detention Curfew in New Zealand and the Community Cor-
rection Order in the Australian state of Victoria.
ese “community custody” sanctions vary widely but share a
common purpose: to convey a prison-like degree of penal censure and
An Act to amend the Criminal Code (Sentencing) and other Acts in consequence thereof,
st Sess, th Parl (proclaimed in force  September ), SC , c  [Bill C-].
For details, see New Zealand, Department of Corrections/Ara Poutama Aotearoa,
Home Detention and Post Detention Conditions, online:
For discussion of this sanction, see Boulton v The Queen, [] VSCA  ( Decem-
ber ).

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT