Videos: Parole System To Be Revised

February 2, 2012

Premier Paula Cox and Attorney General Kim Wilson held a press briefing today [Feb.2] to announce changes to the parole system.

Minister Wilson said, “Cabinet recently approved a set of legislative provisions designed to enhance the parole regime.”According to Minister Wilson, these changes will introduce a tiered system of sentencing which will effectively revise the minimum time served for eligibility for parole.

Minister Wilson said, “In order to more readily grasp eligibility for release, as opposed to the current system which provides an unmitigated system of eligibility for release after serving one third of sentence, a criteria for a tiered system/schedule is proposed.

“This will address re-offence risks, promote continuity and consistency as well as engender more public confidence.”

Additionally, a Re-entry Court will be established to utilize judicial authority for release of all offenders serving four years or more of imprisonment.

The Parole Board will be empowered to grant or revoke license/parole for persons serving sentences of up to four years imprisonment only.

Chairman of the Parole Board Ashfield DeVent, Permanent Secretary for Justice Kathy Lightbourne-Simmons, Commissioner of Corrections Lt Col Edward Lamb, and Director of Court Services Gina Hurst-Maybury were also in attendance at the press conference.

Minister Wilson’s statement:

Minister Wilson and Chairman of the Parole Board Ashfield Devent’s Q&A:

Premier Paula Cox:

Minister Wilson’s full statement follows below:

The Ministry of Justice continues to tackle crime reduction, alternatives to incarceration, rehabilitation of offenders and breaking the cycle of recidivism within the justice mandate.

Central to the measures used to protect the public from violent offenders are our parole and sentencing regimes.

The Ministry is seeking to address some of the challenges present in the administration of and response to the offenders in our community.

To this end, we are looking seriously at proposals that aim to tighten reigns, fill gaps and further protect the community.

The Ministry of Justice measures articulated by His Excellency in the Speech from the Throne included an undertaking to table legislation designed to “mitigate the risk that an inmate granted parole will re-offend”.

In further developing this legislative initiative, the parole regime was reviewed in order to specifically address perceived and actual deficiencies within the system.

As a result of a thorough review, which was undertaken by our policy team in collaboration with the Department of Court Services, the Department of Corrections and the Judiciary, Cabinet recently approved a set of legislative provisions designed to enhance the parole regime.

To this end, legislation will be forth coming which will introduce a tiered system of sentencing which will effectively revise the minimum time served for eligibility for parole as represented in the Speech from the Throne.

Further, Cabinet has approved a legislative proposal to permit judicial discretion to be applied to reflect the circumstances of a crime as it relates to the grant of parole.

In particular, a Re-entry Court will be established to utilize judicial authority for release of all offenders serving four years or more of imprisonment.

The Parole Board will be empowered to grant or revoke license/parole for persons serving sentences of up to four years imprisonment only.

The benefit of the Re-Entry Court regime would ensure that the intent of the sentencing magistrate or judge is realized and ensures completion of mandated programmes and intended minimum sentences of imprisonment.

To this end, there is a seamless system that enhances strategies to track, monitor, and enforce conditions through judicially monitored case management practices, which minimize offence risks and risks of relapse.

The name in itself denotes continuity and positive re-entry of offenders which involves incentives and sanctions, and affords supervision for all offenders post release from custody.

Returning to the Throne Speech initiatives designed to mitigate the risk that an inmate granted parole will re-offend, in order to more readily grasp eligibility for release, as opposed to the current system which provides an unmitigated system of eligibility for release after serving one third of sentence, a criteria for a tiered system/schedule is proposed.

This will address re-offence risks, promote continuity and consistency as well as engender more public confidence. In other jurisdictions, such tiers are used for eligibility for rehabilitation status.

The severity of the offence, response to and completion of mandated programmes and the offending history of the offender should give indication to the propensity to embrace change in behaviour and attitude.

For example- A first time offender for a minor offence ought to have more opportunity for early release than a repeat offender for serious crimes.

The implementation of a Review Court where all cases are regularly reviewed on a set day of the month would also augment this new scheme.

Appearances alone act as a catalyst for more positive behaviour and holds both offenders and officers to a greater level of accountability.

This involves regular reports, intermittent short periods of incarceration (weekend to two weeks) as sanctions when merited (rare) and incentives for good performance and conduct.

On-going attendance is based upon responses to supervision and programmes, whereby most positive responses result in less frequent appearances, but monthly reports continue.

Review courts used in other jurisdictions has shown that the regular appearances resulted in fewer re-offends overall as offenders were cognizant of scheduled appearances and compliance issues.

This approach is similar to the judicially led teach approach in the Drug treatment Court programme where re 0feence rates continue under 5%.

This is not intended to increase the load of the Judiciary, but affords therapeutic jurisprudence, whilst also holding offenders to greater account.

Suggestions are that sessions could be tacked onto the monthly arraignment sessions, after the Drug Treatment Court Programme on one Wednesday per month, or after a monthly-determined Plea Court session. Work will be done by the relevant agents responsible.

The Drug Treatment Court Programme has demonstrated success over the past ten years in holding offenders to greater account.

Such a problem solving model is proposed as it is evident that judicial authority results in greater outcomes and positive reinforcement toward successful re-integration. This also engenders community trust, confidence and buy-in.

Administrative interventions have also been implemented which include re-enforcing the effective collaboration that currently exists between Departments within the Ministry and across Government.

This collaboration addresses matters related to reports, interface issues, legislation, communication and planning.

In particular, tri-partied meetings resumed in September with the Commissioner of Corrections, the Director of Court Services and the Chairman of the Parole Board.

To further address concerns pertaining to the parole regime, Ministerial Directions have been given to the Parole Board in exercise of the power conferred on the Minister of Justice by section 7 of the Parole Board Act 2001 as to the policy to be followed by the Board in the performance of its functions.

The Directions are aimed at ensuring that the Board takes into consideration evidence of gang affiliations and the offender’s level of involvement in the gang prior to imprisonment where such evidence is supplied by the relevant authority.

In addition, the risk to public safety must be considered by the Board where an inmate is identified as a prolific priority offender.

The Parole Board has also been directed to consider the use of electronic monitoring for parolees as a condition of their release in appropriate cases.

Whilst increased collaboration will strengthen the administration of the parole regime, legislative reform is necessary to realize our commitment to rehabilitate offenders.

This unwavering commitment is reflected in existing inmate rehabilitation programs which are administered in our Corrections facilities to address issues such as anger management, violent offenders, drug education, GED certification, sex offenders, life skills, parenting skills, money management, woodwork, auto bodywork and religious studies.

The Ministry of Justice continues to build on the legislative and administrative framework that underpins our mandate and operations.

We have adopted a proactive and considered approach to the identification, development and implementation of measures to address criminal activity, ever mindful of the constitutional rights of individual citizens and the responsibility of the Government to ensure public safety.

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Comments (12)

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  1. Hmmmm says:

    Please can someone conclude the benefits of this new system vs the existing system. So much flowery waffle to try and decipher.

    • Makai Dickerson says:

      @Hmmmm

      1)The minimum time served before being eligible for parole will be extended for more serious/violent crimes.

      2)The Parole Board will handle the cases for offenders of less serious crimes who are sentenced to 4 years or less and those who are seeking parole for more serious/violent crimes and sentenced to over 4 years will have their case dealt with in the courts. (Most likely by the Judge whom handled their case, who will have their past records and all the information that lead to the conviction including any proven gang affiliation)

      3)The program’s in place to assist in rehabilitation will play a bigger factor in determining if they will be released on parole or not.

      4)Correspondence between all parties involved will be improved.

      5)Greater monitoring will be carried out on those released on parole to insure that they are adjusting back into society truly rehabilitated.

      It will limit the risk of releasing persons on parole who stand a great chance of re-offending and also insure that adequate time is served for the crime committed ,and help to insure the safety of the community once persons are released on parole.

      These are a few points from the AG’s statement. I hope that I helped bring some clarity for you.

    • Rick Rock says:

      The subtitles would read “The Parole Board is obviously a bunch of idiots, we can all see that. They let gun-toting drug dealers out in the shortest time possible. They seem to have no concept of the idea that imprisonment is partly done to protect society from dangerous psychopaths. So we are taking away a lot of their power permanently so that they can’t make such idiotic decisions in the future.”

  2. Truth (Original) says:

    ….Ashfield Devent is chairman of the parole board ?

    Okay.

    • Serious though says:

      uuummmmmmmmm wonder why so much violence around his Constituency?
      and i am not blaming him either.. BUT… chairman of the board for a guy who advocate legalization of weed!

      • My two cents says:

        @serious thought.

        Actually the REASON he is advocating the legalization of weed is because of the violence associated with the black market of this highly desirable herb.
        Again as many have said thousands of times over the years of discussion on this issue. If you remove the black market aspect of this in demand herb, then there will be much less violence over drugs in his area. Does this make sense?

  3. International Observer says:

    What’s wrong with Ashfield as Chairman? Got to keep him involved so he doesn’t defect as an independent in the next election!

  4. Freedom says:

    spin and camara time….SMILE ms COX

  5. Wandering says:

    Was our Commissioner of Corrections Lt Col Edward Lamb allowed to speak about these decisions and/or answer questions

  6. JUS ME says:

    UGH HELLO…U DONT THINK ITS A LITTLE TO LATE? THE MAIN TROUBLE MAKERS ARE OUT ON PAROLE!! LOL COME ON NOW!

  7. GET REAL! says:

    @ Jus me..I thought I was the only one who thought that HAHA. Bermuda always acts AFTER THE FACT!! At the end of the day yes people commit crimes and end up in jail BUT prison should be a place of rehabiliation. I’m not trying to sugarcoat everything but there are teenagers and young 20 yrs olds doing serious time for serious crimes. What’s being done to make them more productive in society when they are released??? It’s more to it then just “locking them all up”. Tired of hearing all the negativity on this site and others.

  8. Observer says:

    Lip service…anyone else see a general electioin in the near future? Let’s see how much more lip service we get fed in the coming weeks.