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Bell Parole Regrets Insincere

Bell Parole Regrets Insincere

If the Government were sincere in its regret and sympathy with the victims of William Bell, it would not have been so politically calculating in release the reports on the Probation Service failures, ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.

"The Corrections Minister has known for many months of the errors and omissions. Once Bell had been convicted there was no legal reason whatsoever why these reports should not have been released when they were completed. The only reason for delay has been so they come out at sentencing. They hope the Government's culpability will be submerged in congratulations for the long non-parole period imposed today.

"After each failure of the offender-centred system, we get regrets and apologies. The same sorts of assurances were given after Taffy Hotene raped and killed Kylie Jones when he was supposed to be under close supervision of the Probation Service.

"If the Minister had been truly determined to see change she would have been exerting the utmost pressure on the Probation Service, and released the report as soon as it was to hand.

"More fundamentally she would have been asking herself whether parole is a fatally flawed idea. The report would have asked whether there is any evidence that parole has ever worked anywhere for its stated objectives.

"She would be asking whether she and her colleagues weren't personally culpable for releasing people when there is a statistical certainty that many will go out to kill, maim and permanently injure.

"The hierarchy of the Catholic Church is being pilloried around the world for conduct far less culpable than the conduct of the designers and operators of our parole system. Their fault is to put the prospect of rehabilitation of their pederast priests - if they get a fresh start in a new unsuspecting parish - ahead of the potential innocent victims in that new parish. In last year's Parole Act, Labour Ministers cemented in place a system that sends every criminal back before they have served their sentence, while knowing that 80 percent will reoffend. That must be a far higher proportion than the recidivist priests. Worse, in many cases our Government routinely suppresses the history of offending and even collaborates in giving released criminals false new identities.

"Allowing an offender back into the community before they have served the judge's sentence knowing there is a high prospect of worse offending is immoral," Mr Franks said.

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