Minister Dunkley On Parole Board Report

March 18, 2013

The 2012 Parole Board Report highlights the need for an amendment to the relevant legislation related to minimum sentences to be served before being eligible for parole, Minister of Public Safety Michael Dunkley said this morning [Mar 18] in the House of Assembly.

Minister Dunkley said, “If an offender is sentenced to 9 months imprisonment and his/her time spent in custody is also ordered to be taken into consideration, that inmate may well be eligible for parole and potentially, released from custody before any kind of programme or treatment is administered to address what might be the root cause of his/her criminal behaviour.

“In such cases the system does a disservice to the inmate who returns to society unchanged other than a period of incarceration, and a disservice to the community who may well become the victims of his/her re-offending.”

“The Report indicates that the need for this amendment has been highlighted since 2007. This Government will delay no more. I am pleased to advise this Honourable House that in conjunction with the Attorney General’s chambers, this amendment will be advanced in the next session of this House. We cannot pay lip service to holistic solutions to the issues of social dysfunction in this community and leave critical Boards without the legislative tools required to fulfill their mandate.”

Minister Dunkley’s full statement follows below:

The 2012 Report of the Parole Board has been tabled in this Honourable House and I wish to highlight certain portions of the Report for Honourable Members and the public.

Mr. Speaker, following the election of 2012 responsibility for the Parole Board was moved from the former Ministry of Justice to the Ministry of Public Safety. This transfer of responsibility is complimented by a concurrent transfer of the Department of Corrections to this Ministry.

Mr. Speaker, this synergy is critical to the fulfillment of the Parole Board’s mission, which is: to facilitate offenders to become law-abiding citizens through community supervision and support designed for successful reintegration. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members will recall that this Honourable House has already received the 2010 Report some weeks ago. However, I am advised that owing to changes in the Board and its administrators, a 2011 Report is unavailable.

Mr. Speaker, the Parole Board approaches each inmate on his/her own merits and applies its policies fairly and in the best interests of their mission. The 2012 Report indicates that the Board has been hard-working and diligent in the management of inmate issues as well as its own professional development.

Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members will note that the Report highlights the need for an amendment to the relevant legislation related to minimum sentences to be served before being eligible for parole.

Mr. Speaker, for the information of Honourable Members and the public, the concern expressed by the Board is best illustrated by a practical example.

If an offender is sentenced to 9 months imprisonment and his/her time spent in custody is also ordered to be taken into consideration, that inmate may well be eligible for parole and potentially, released from custody before any kind of programme or treatment is administered to address what might be the root cause of his/her criminal behaviour.

Mr. Speaker, in such cases the system does a disservice to the inmate who returns to society unchanged other than a period of incarceration, and a disservice to the community who may well become the victims of his/her re-offending.

Mr. Speaker, you will recall that on numerous occasions I have spoken about justice being done with periods of incarceration as determined by the Courts, as well as programmes or treatment to put an offender in a better position upon release to contribute to society.

Mr. Speaker, the Report indicates that the need for this amendment has been highlighted since 2007. This Government will delay no more. I am pleased to advise this Honourable House that in conjunction with the Attorney General’s chambers, this amendment will be advanced in the next session of this House. We cannot pay lip service to holistic solutions to the issues of social dysfunction in this community and leave critical Boards without the legislative tools required to fulfill their mandate.

Likewise, Mr. Speaker, the Board’s observation on the lack of programmes mandated by individual case plans will also be addressed. With the Commissioner of Corrections and other stakeholders we will eliminate the gaps in this area of service delivery.

Mr. Speaker, the Report also cites the need for a dedicated Corrections Employment Officer to assist inmates with the required job and accommodation before their parole application is considered.

Mr. Speaker, I can also advise Honourable Members that this too will be addressed. Arising out of the recent Review of the Department of Corrections, Cabinet will shortly be invited to approve a revised organizational structure along with a realignment of posts and a revision of responsibilities which will fill this identified need within the parole regime.

Mr. Speaker, this Government is committed to strong enforcement and meaningful rehabilitation for offenders. Amendments to the Parole Board Act will also shortly be before the House to increase the size of the Board which will better facilitate their work.

Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to confirm to this Honourable House that Mr. Ashfield Devent, the former Honourable Member, remains the Chairman of the Board and I wish to thank him and the members of the Board for their diligence and commitment. I am especially grateful for the timely production of this Annual Report, Mr. Speaker, which allows Honourable Members and the public access to important information in accordance with the Parole Board Act 2001.

Mr. Speaker, the Parole Board is an integral part of the public safety equation. The Board continues to discharge its responsibilities well and the Ministry will continue to work with them to ensure that the community continues to have confidence in their decisions.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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Comments (7)

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  1. enough says:

    Good. About time.

  2. Unjrust Realities says:

    I read the first few paragraphs of this story and got instantly irritated . . .First of all Mr. Dunkley, from a professional standpoint, any person who is incarcerated for an offence that requires treatment should never be sentenced so lightly as nine months. An offender who is in need of treatment for crimes committed, should be someone who has a significant emotional and/or mental health issues that their time of incarceration would be much more extensive than nine months.

    Maybe if we stop locking up people for petty and foolishness then we wouldn’t have these issues from a parole standpoint.

  3. Winnie Dread says:

    It was just an example sheesh, the whole system needs to be reviewed Police,Prosecutions,Judiciary,Corrections and the laws/rules they operate by.

    • Unjrust Realities says:

      A poor example to use if that was the purpose . . .when you read the content of his article, what other example could he use???

  4. swing voter says:

    nothin to do with this story, but listening to Wayne Furbert speak in the house sounds like an audition for comedy central. only a big top, caged animals and clowns are missing

    • enough says:

      I beg to differ. Plenty of clowns in there.

    • PLP 4 ever says:

      I saw you’re mother dress in one of the clown suits before she left the house.