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End Parole Secrecy

End Parole Secrecy

Tuesday 3 Feb 2004 Stephen Franks Press Releases -- Crime & Justice

Tomorrow's parole hearing of Napier killer Tony Roma is a classic example of the attack that parole secrecy launches on the very foundations of our legal system, ACT New Zealand Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.

"Parole should be as public as the court delivering the original sentence. Tony Roma was given a life sentence for bashing seven year-old Simon Reaney to death in 1991. Parole unwinds that sentence," Mr Franks said.

"But Roma was released by a Parole Board appointed by a Minister to do what Ministers want. Yet justice is supposed to be open - given by independent courts and judges who serve the law, not political masters.

"The Board meets behind closed doors, does not explain why it lets people out, does not publish the conditions of release, and is not allowed to be open - it interferes with, and terminates, court sentences without scrutiny.

"Simon Reaney's father tried to persuade the Board not to release Roma, but was unsuccessful. It appears the Board converted its naïve hopes - that Roma would abstain from alcohol and drugs, and live at home - into naïve conditions.

"Now, in another secret hearing, it will decide whether Roma should be recalled after he was arrested for exposing himself in a Manakau mall - but there should be no doubt about it. Criminals who breach parole should be automatically recalled to complete their sentence.

"Parole started as a trust - a bargain - where if an offender goes straight, and doesn't betray the Board's confidence, they'll be released early. But parole has mutated into a right that allows Ministers to subvert the courts.

"Parole must end now. I have written to Tony Roma's 1991 lawyer, Russell Fairbrother, urging him to support this. He now has new duties to the public. I hope he will give New Zealanders the benefit of his experience," Mr Franks said.

ENDS

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.


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