New Bill Allowing For Parolees To Be Arrested

March 18, 2014

Last night [Mar 17] in the House of Assembly, Members of Parliament debated and passed the Criminal Code Amendment [No2] Act 2014, which allows police officers to arrest  someone who is on parole for breaching the parole conditions.

The legislation was tabled by the Minister of National Security Michael Dunkley who said, “ Honourable Members will be aware that an inmate released on parole ordinarily has conditions by which he or she must abide. A breach of those conditions, no matter how serious, is not itself cause to arrest that parolee.

“Presently, where a police officer witnesses a breach of the conditions of parole, but where no other offence is being committed, the Police cannot immediately arrest that individual. Parolees must be recalled by the Parole Board and can only be arrested if a warrant has been issued by a magistrate where they have failed to attend a breach hearing.

“In many jurisdictions, parole officers have the authority to arrest, with or without warrant, any person who is on parole for any violation or breach of the conditions of his parole. The Bill before this Honourable House proposes to allow the Police to carry out this function, in keeping with established practice in this jurisdiction.

“The ability of officers to arrest a person on parole for a breach of the conditions of their release is tempered by the “reasonableness test”. That is to say, a police officer must have reasonable grounds for suspecting that the person has breached any of the conditions of his parole.”

Minister Dunkley’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, the Bill before this Honourable House is the Criminal Code Amendment [No2] Act 2014.
Honourable Members will recall that in its very first Throne Speech in February 2013, this Government promised to “make the breach of parole arrestable….”

Mr. Speaker, this Bill delivers on that promise and is yet another legislative means to assist law enforcement in disrupting the rhythm of anti-social and gang behaviour, and institutes a clear regime for the enforcement of parole conditions with consequences for breaches.

Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members will be aware that an inmate released on parole ordinarily has conditions by which he or she must abide. A breach of those conditions, no matter how serious, is not itself cause to arrest that parolee. Presently, where a police officer witnesses a breach of the conditions of parole, but where no other offence is being committed, the Police cannot immediately arrest that individual. Parolees must be recalled by the Parole Board and can only be arrested if a warrant has been issued by a magistrate where they have failed to attend a breach hearing.

Mr. Speaker, in many jurisdictions, parole officers have the authority to arrest, with or without warrant, any person who is on parole for any violation or breach of the conditions of his parole. The Bill before this Honourable House proposes to allow the Police to carry out this function, in keeping with established practice in this jurisdiction.

Mr. Speaker, this Bill also makes, in my view, a useful addition to our body laws by codifying the conditions and special conditions of parole. Inmates, parolees and affected family will all have ready access to the conditions of parole and can see what kinds of things will form part of any Parole Order made by the Board. I would invite Honourable Members to take note of the provisions of the new section 70R in particular.

We know that the risk of re-offending is increased if parolees are exposed to the destructive elements that led to their original incarceration. The new section 70R makes it clear that the Parole Board can impose conditions aimed at keeping parolees away from people, groups and venues that are unsuitable and may adversely affect their rehabilitation.

Mr. Speaker, the principle of this Bill is not without precedent. Some Honourable Members will recall the Bail Act 2005 (section 10) which provides for arrest without warrant of a person who has been released on bail in criminal proceedings, where a police officer has reasonable grounds for believing that that person is not likely to surrender to custody or is likely to break, or has broken any of the conditions of his bail.

Mr. Speaker, the ability of officers to arrest a person on parole for a breach of the conditions of their release is tempered by the “reasonableness test”. That is to say, a police officer must have reasonable grounds for suspecting that the person has breached any of the conditions of his parole. Additionally,

Mr. Speaker, the parolee’s supervising officer must consider it to be in the public interest to recall the person. These and other safeguards in the Bill are designed to provide a balance between these new police powers and the rights of the individual. It must, however, be borne in mind that an inmate released on parole has not completed his sentence but is on license and the regime surrounding his conduct is deliberately strict.

Mr. Speaker, as I commend this Bill to the House for debate, I wish to thank the Parole Board under the chairmanship of the former Honourable Member Mr. Ashfield DeVent for their work and the even-handed manner in which they administer the parole of inmates.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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Comments (19)

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  1. Hmmm says:

    Sounds reasonable to me.

  2. Ben Dover says:

    That’s the spirit, Mr. Dunkley. Spare the rod, and spoil the child, I always say.

  3. Hmmm says:

    I’m just surprised this wasn’t allowed until now.

    • Redo says:

      I know!! Why would i not be immediately arrested if i violate my parole? Dumbest thing i have heard in a long time! Parole is given under the condition that i am on my best behavior and dont break any laws! Parole is a GIFT! I should definitely be hauled back in a locked up again if i violate this gift that was given to me. I cant believe what an idiotic system we have in place here. Thank you Mr. Dunkley for overhauling some really stupid legislation that has been hiding out in the fine print. Unbelievable!!

  4. WhistleBlower says:

    How about a damn bill that finds someone guilty of handling/possession of a gun to be tried for any murders used by that gun!!!!!!

    Really parolees? Give the PEOPLE better SECURITY by STOPPING the INFLUX of drugs like HEROIN, CRACK and ECSTASY!!!! Introduce bills that PROTECT LAW-ABIDING citizens of this country!!!!

    • Hmmm says:

      This one does protect us.

      What would you suggest as a law to “Give the PEOPLE better SECURITY by STOPPING the INFLUX of drugs like HEROIN, CRACK and ECSTASY!!!!” ???

      Waiting.

  5. Mazumbo says:

    I guess next is three strikes. Oh I forgot its only one now.

    • As a matter of fact Mazumbo, that’s not a bad idea…It certainly will make,(if not all) some people think twice prior to committing a “serious crime” or even them that are committing “petty crimes”. They’re continuously doing it over and over and over and prison is somewhat a security blanket for them…There they will have free shelter, meals and medical treatment plus get monies ta’boot :-( No it’s time for 3 strikes and you are out Laws to be introduced for all crimes but the mandatory sentences should fit the crimes i.e. serious crime 15 yrs. and lesser for petty crimes, say 5 yrs. I believe this will be a deterrent…

    • LOL (Original TM*) says:

      Don’t worry they only want to lock you up. lolololol

      From what fearmongering politician did we hear that line from.

      LOL

  6. sage says:

    Stop paroling dangerous offenders who already received inadequate sentences.

  7. Terry says:

    I remember one that was on parole and murdered and raped a young girl.
    Monitoring is the best approach and doing it right.

  8. glen's says:

    I guess, never too late!!
    What’s next? Lord have mercy.

    • eview says:

      Not all parolees r dangerous criminals ppl r locked up for many different reasons u ppl r so negative

  9. Coffee says:

    One way of keeping a privatized prison full of captured cash .

  10. Same old PLP says:

    This is just Common Sense

  11. Judge & Jury says:

    Great Job Minister Dunkley it’s about time. Parole in Bermuda is not taken seriously when some peopler breach their conditions within hours of their release. No need to wait on a Board Meeting.
    Many other jurisdictions also give powers of arrest to their Correctional Officers. Let Westgate staff arrest visitors bringing in drugs and phones and inmates who engage in illicit activities.

  12. for real says:

    please note every one that i personally believe that this is just smoke and mirrors. just saying. arresting someone is not the same as revoking their parole. no where in this ammendemnt unless this ist the full ammendment listed does it say that the parolee’s parole will be revoked. they will be arrested and maybe detained untill the go before a magistrate or other governing body. also who will the go before as they may not have broken any “law” per sec.

    once they get before the magistrate or parole board they may still be on parole.

    we need to stop rushing to laws and ammendments that can be overturned or circumvented by good lawyers or magistrate. look at the habd held device law.

    we know the spirit in wich this has been put forward but we need to get the letter of the law correct as well or we will just end up with a lot of unecessay ammendemnts and acts.

    Just my point of view.

  13. Gotham says:

    There were probably very good reasons for not enacting this law through the decades if not centuries, especially including pandering to a public hysteria. This is not a nice law and is wide open to all sorts of trivial abuse, especially by Police.