Ryall dishonest in parole decisions claims
Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Justice
17 January 2003
Ryall dishonest in claiming Ministers can meddle in parole decisions
National MP Tony Ryall is being deliberately dishonest in stating that I or any Minister could have stopped Barry Ryder’s release, Justice Minister Phil Goff said today.
“The law does not allow for the interference by a Cabinet Minister in the activities of the Parole Board. As a former Justice Minister, Mr Ryall knows that only too well.
“I was not even informed of the decision to release Ryder and there is no requirement that I should have been.
“Ryder was sentenced under previous legislation that generally required release at two thirds of the sentence imposed. New legislation however enables any inmate still considered to be a risk to the community to serve to the very last day of their sentence.
“In the case of recidivist serious offenders, the sentence of preventive detention is available. I am pleased to see that the Judge who will sentence Ryder has indicated that preventive detention will be considered as a sentence. Under preventive detention a convicted person can be kept in prison for the whole of their natural life unless it is decided they no longer constitute a risk to the community.
“It is up to the Judge as to what sentence is imposed, and politicians, including and in particular the Minister of Justice, has no right to interfere or recommend a sentence to a Judge. The same applies with respect to decisions by the Parole Board.
“In regard to Mr Ryall’s comments about the Intellectual Disability Bill, no legislation is retrospective in effect, and it is therefore irrelevant to Ryder’s case. Further it is not clear that this legislation would have applied to Ryder even if the Bill had been enacted before he offended,” Mr Goff said.