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17 prisoners declined parole review in 2012

The annual Parole Board review for 2012 was published today.

Image: Prison door via Shutterstock

A NEW REPORT from the Parole Board shows that 17 prisoners declined  the opportunity of a parole review last year.

They were among 66 prisoners invited to take part in a review, of whom 44 accepted the invitation, according to the Parole Board’s annual report, out today. The board carries out the reviews.

The report was published by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter TD.

“The Parole Board plays an important role in evaluating prisoner suitability for release and contributes to the protection of society by facilitating their reintegration into society, which is much valued and appreciated,” said Minister Shatter.

The Minister had earlier said he wanted to enact legislation to place the Parole Board on a statutory footing, and said that decisions have to be finalised on this.

He has also appointed a group to carry out a strategic review of penal policy and will bring their proposals forward to Government for a statutory Parole Board.

Long-term prison sentences

The Parole Board’s total caseload increased from 205 in 2011 to 268 in 2012, which was a combination of new cases and cases at second or subsequent review stage. The Board reviewed the cases of 91 prisoners in 2012, with the same number of recommendations made to the Minister.

The majority of those recommendations were accepted in full by the Minister.

John Costello, chairman of the Parole Board, said that there has been “substantial progress” made to ensure reviews of prisoners are heard promptly

The board has also tried to encourage more participation in the parole process by prisoners.

Members met with prisoners to explain the parole process and encourage them to participate as fully as possible in all the therapeutic and educational courses available to them.

The board also intends to publish an information leaflet on parole for prisoners.

Remission

Costello said in the report that the board believes there is merit in the idea of enhanced remission for prisoners who participate in therapeutic programmes, something which has been recommended by the Irish Penal Reform Trust and some prisoners.

The cases of 66 prisoners were referred to the board for review during 2012 and all were invited to participate in the process. While 44 prisoners accepted the invitation, 17 declined and five invitations to participate were not determined.

The number of  interviews conducted by board members during the course of 2012 increased by almost 11 per cent on 2011. A total of 73 interviews were conducted during the year – the highest number since its establishment.

At the end of the year there were 27 decisions still pending. The full report can be read here.

Read: Parole laws under review in Victoria in wake of Jill Meagher case>

Read: Report: Judges should be able to impose minimum sentence for murder>

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