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Practical Parole Reforms

Practical Parole Reforms

ACT New Zealand Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks today summarised what ACT will do with the parole system and said the publicised cases of Douglas Reekie and Michael Carroll are simply two of countless cases of parole failure - public anger should be focussed on practical solutions.

"There are simple changes that a government committed to honesty in the justice system could implement immediately. The simplest start would be to uncover the facts about parole offending. During my first year in Parliament, Labour blocked my Bill to require release of parole offending figures - even though Justice Minister Phil Goff made his false `tough on crime' reputation, by skilful use of bail offending figures.

"ACT's first preference is truth in sentencing. That means abolishing parole, and replacing it with mandatory supervision at the end of every sentence. Commissions of inquiry around the world have found no evidence that parole reduces reoffending rates. Nor is it any better incentive to good behaviour in prison than the prospect of better post-sentence conditions.

"Until parole is abolished, the following reforms should be immediate:

· Parole hearings should be open to the public and victims, as a matter of course, just like the original sentencing.

· Parole should never be granted where there is evidence of the criminal's lack of remorse and acceptance of responsibility.

· Material evidence of community benefit should be required to outweigh the victim's entitlement to see the court-given sentence served.

· Victims, their representatives and police should be allowed to test the experts' reports and recommendations in the same way evidence can be challenged at the trial.

· The Parole Board's decisions should be transparent, with reasoning at least as full as is required of a judge at sentencing.

· Parole conditions should be public.

· Recall to complete the sentence should be automatic for any breach or offence which shows the parolee is not worthy of the trust implicit in parole.

· The Parole Board should be required to gather and publish full evidence of all parole offending.

· The Parole Board should be required to report on the costs of financially compensating all victims of offending committed on parole, to offset against the claimed benefits and savings on prison costs.

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