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Allow MP at Parole Hearing

Allow MP at Parole Hearing

ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks today applauded attempts by United Future MP Marc Alexander to attend the Parole Board's hearing for Casie Rawiri, who robbed pizza deliveryman Michael Choy as he lay dying.

"Not only should Michael's mother, Rita Croskery, have an absolute right to attend, so too should any other interested member of the public. Parole hearings should be as transparent as the original sentencing," Mr Franks said.

"Parole Boards interfere with sentences given in open court. They interfere with sentences for which judges are required, by law, to give reasons. If the Parole Board sets Rawiri free - just six months after she was sentenced to a four-and-a-half year prison term - it should have to explain its decision as publicly as the judge had to explain the original sentence.

"Rawiri's judge described her as a vulture. The public has heard no evidence of any remorse. She was openly contemptuous in Court. Parole for such an offender makes sentencing a sham.

"The public is entitled to know how the Parole Board justifies its decisions. Our constitutional inheritance used to mean that justice must be seen to be done. Now Prime Minister Helen Clark and Corrections Minister Phil Goff use parole to open the backdoor of prisons, while pretending to toughen sentencing instructions to judges.

"This is not just a matter of victims' rights, or the Parole Board being more courteous to Mrs Croskery. Even if Rawiri just a burglar, as Justice Minister Goff said to television, even burglary victims should have an absolute right to know why the Parole Board decides to cut short a sentence delivered after a proper open court hearing.

"Parole has no justification. It should be abolished. But, until it is, it must be made transparent. If it were transparent, and people could see what was going on, it would never be tolerated," Mr Franks said.

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