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Panels consider prisoners’ temporary release

Hon Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga

Minister of Corrections

6 October 2015

Panels consider prisoners’ temporary release

Corrections is using a new approach to ensure a robust assessment of prisoners applying for temporary release following the illegal departure of Phillip Smith last year, says Corrections Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga.

“Multi-disciplinary panels have been introduced which provide input from a range of perspectives on whether a prisoner should gain temporary release.

“The panel considers the benefits to the prisoner but also, more importantly, the risks to the public,” Mr Lotu-Iiga says.

Each prison has a multi-disciplinary panel which is made up of Corrections staff such as case managers, psychologists, probation and intelligence staff.

The panel also includes representatives from the community and police to ensure a range of views and evidence is presented about the suitability of prisoners applying for temporary release. It also considers the appropriate match of proposed activities and how they would be facilitated and managed.

The panel then makes a recommendation to the prison director so he or she can make an informed decision on whether to grant a temporary release.

“Temporary release is a privilege, not a right, and the public deserves to know that it is not one given lightly. Public safety is the driving consideration for these decisions,” Mr Lotu-Iiga says.

Temporary release of prisoners has been in place in its current form since the Penal Institutions Act 1954, the forerunner to the Corrections Act 2004.

Eligibility for temporary release remains the same under legislation (Regulation 26 of the Corrections Act 2004).

“Temporary release is an important tool in the reintegration of prisoners into the community as part of pre-release planning,” says Mr Lotu-Iiga.

“It gives prisoners the opportunity to build support groups, undertake paid employment and attend programmes in the community. Research shows that prisoners with strong support networks and stable employment have more success at remaining crime-free on release from prison.”


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