Proposed Amendment: 12 Months Before Parole

July 4, 2014

Speaking in the House of Assembly today [July 4], Premier Michael Dunkley outlined the proposed amendment to section 12 of the Prison Act 2001 which would require that incarcerated persons must serve a minimum of 12 months before being eligible for parole.

Premier Dunkley said, “The parole process starts at the beginning of an inmate’s incarceration. It is the inmate’s responsibility to demonstrate the ability and willingness to live a pro-social life through recreational and vocational goal setting programmes.

“In addition, a convicted person must have served one third of their sentence and otherwise present a low risk to the community before being considered for parole.

“The Parole Board has highlighted the proposed amendment to section 12 of the Prison Act 2001 which will require that incarcerated persons must serve a minimum of 12 months before being eligible for parole.

“You will recall that this and other changes to the parole regime formed part of the Government’s Throne Speech initiatives and continue to be the subject of review by the Attorney General’s Chambers.”

The Premier’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce into the Legislature the Report of the Parole Board for 2013, in compliance with section 8 of the Parole Board Act 2001.

Honourable Members will be aware that under the Act, the Parole board is an independent body empowered to make decisions governing the time and conditions of release of inmates by assessing the risk they pose to the community and to themselves.

The Board also evaluates the likelihood that a period of supervision, upon release, will contribute to the successful reintegration of the offender into the community. The timing and conditions of release are determined based on a review of all relevant data coupled with a face-to-face interview with the applicant.

Mr. Speaker, the parole process starts at the beginning of an inmate’s incarceration. It is the inmate’s responsibility to demonstrate the ability and willingness to live a pro-social life through recreational and vocational goal setting programmes.

In addition, a convicted person must have served one third of their sentence and otherwise present a low risk to the community before being considered for parole.

For the year under review, the Parole Board has highlighted the proposed amendment to section 12 of the Prison Act 2001 which will require that incarcerated persons must serve a minimum of 12 months before being eligible for parole.

Honourable Members will recall that this and other changes to the parole regime formed part of the Government’s Throne Speech initiatives and continue to be the subject of review by the Attorney General’s Chambers.

Mr. Speaker, the Board continues to work well in its role as part of the criminal justice system. Honourable Members will note that the grant of parole is not taken lightly and as the Report indicates: “The safety of the community weighs heavily with the Board (and) each deliberation is done with grave consideration.”

I would also invite Honourable Members to take note that the Board amended the wording of the general conditions of parole in 2013 to specifically address some of the social issues prevalent in our community and to which parolees might be particularly exposed. Items viii, ix and x at page 7 of the Report speak to these issues.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the Chairman and members of the Board for their continued service and commitment to the administration of justice under their remit.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker

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