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Parole Hearings Return To Prisons

Parole hearings will return to New Zealand prison’s this week after face-face meetings were suspended as a result of the COVID-19 emergency.

The New Zealand Parole Board completed all its scheduled hearings during the COVID-19 lockdown period, with more than 600 taking place via video link.

Board members usually travel to prisons for the hearings but with restrictions at prisons and on travelling, Parole Board Chairperson Sir Ron Young says they had to find other ways to carry out their statutory functions.

“By increasing the use of video-link and teleconference hearings we ensured all hearings scheduled for that time period took place,” said Sir Ron.

“Significantly, no hearings were lost, and lawyers had the opportunity to make submissions on behalf of their clients in one form or another in every case.

“Also, and very importantly, victims were still able to share their stories and opinions with the Board, which is a crucial part of the decision-making process,” he said.

From today, hearings are being held around the country, including prisons in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Invercargill.

The Parole Board holds more than 9000 hearings a year for prisoners who have reached their parole eligibility date.

It makes public safety decisions about the managed release of long-term prisoners. Parole aids reintegration, by permitting eligible offenders to finish their sentence in the community, subject to conditions set by the Board.

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