Progress in the
Penal System (PIPS)

33: Parole system

Standard 33:

The parole system is fair, transparent and fully independent of Ministerial control.

Rationale:

Individuals who are eligible for parole should be supported to adjust to life on the outside, since imprisonment can lead to institutionalisation. Supporting the individual during sentence and upon release decreases the likelihood of their re-offending and increases public protection. Decisions on parole should be fair and removed from political control.

Current context:

At the Parole Board Conference 2018, [692] the Minister for Justice and Equality stated that the Parole Bill 2016 [693] would proceed through report stage over the succeeding weeks. IPRT has raised concerns in relation to the Parole Bill 2016, [694] in particular that the first parole review would take place after 12 years as opposed to the current 7-year mark.

Indicators for Standard:

Indicators for Standard 33

Indicator S33:1: The placement of the Parole Board on a statutory footing: This has not happened. While IPRT has long advocated for the Parole Board to be removed from ministerial control and placed on an independent statutory footing, IPRT has deep concerns about some of the content of the current Parole Bill 2016. [695]

Indicator S33.2: Parole Board hearings occur in a timely manner, and outcomes are communicated promptly to parole candidates: It is difficult to ascertain whether parole hearings are occurring in a timely manner, with outcomes communicated promptly to the candidate. While no reference is made to delays in Parole Board hearings in the Parole Board’s Annual Report 2016, [696] in total the caseload for 2016 was 344 with 280 cases carried over.

Progressive Practice:

Parole Decisions, Belgium

The Sentence Implementation Courts in Belgium take a multi-disciplinary approach to parole. The court comprises one judge and two non-judicial assessors who hold a relevant degree (e.g. criminology/law/psychology) and have five years’ experience in social integration in prisons. [697]

Actions required:

Action 33.1: Legislators should address IPRT’s [698] concerns about the Parole Bill 2016, including reconsideration of the number of years an individual must wait to have his/her first review with the Parole Board.
Action 33.2: Legislators should establish the Parole Board on a statutory footing, removing the Board from ministerial control.

References:

IPRT Irish Penal Reform Trust

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