Risk factors determine the right to parole

Why is parole not refused for people who show no remorse?

Parole is a statutorily mandated right for prisoners who have served at least one-third of their prison sentence unless they were given a minimum non-release period.

The Parole Board’s guiding principle is for the Board in every case to consider the safety of the community, taking into account the rights of victims submissions made by victims. It also meets with victims prior to the parole hearing and considers any restorative justice outcomes. In its assessment, the Board considers safety of the community paramount. It assesses whether the offender presents an undue risk to the community, looks at the likelihood of further offending and the nature and seriousness of any likely subsequent offending.

Lack of remorse is a factor, which may count against parole.

However, if an offender has behaved well in prison, completed all the rehabilitation programmes required in prison, has a robust release plan in the community with people who are aware of their risk, demonstrate at least static or past factors of a low risk of offending in the future, possibly a lack of remorse may not necessarily determine the outcome of their application for consideration of parole.

Most prisoners who make their first parole appearance are unlikely to receive parole for a number of reasons. They must then be seen again for consideration of parole in one years’ time. That is a legal requirement.

Victims’ views

Sometimes it frustrates victims that when an offender is declined parole, having already made their views known, the victim is asked again 12 months later for their views because this person is being considered for parole again.

The law requires the person to be seen again in a year.

The Parole Board does not have the right to disentitle the prisoner from his or her eligibility to be considered for parole within that one year.

Most offenders who come before the Parole Board are seen by one Judge and two members of the community. However, those on an indeterminate sentence are seen by two or three Judges, two members of the community, and a forensic psychiatrist. The concerns of the community and the victims of offending are always significant in the Board’s consideration of the primary question as to the safety of the community.

The above is the response given by the judges of the Auckland District Court at their Community Day’ held at Fickling Convention Centre on September 24, 2012. The Editor of this newspaper was present at the meeting and the responses of the judges to a number of questions are published in a series. The responses are reproduced verbatim, as given by the judges. The first eight parts appeared in our past issues from November 15, 2012. Read another question and answer elsewhere in this issue.

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