Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Parole Review

I am pleased that the review of Victoria’s parole system by former High Court judge Callinan has recommended that violent criminals, serious sex offenders, and burglars should not be given parole unless they have a negligible chance of re-offending.
I am also pleased that Justice Callinan has recommended that community safety and protection should be the paramount consideration in granting parole. This definitely needs to be the paramount consideration. It is troubling, but not surprising, that Mr Callinan has found that under the current Parole Board, it “has proved to be too easy for serious violent and sexual offenders to obtain and to remain on parole”. He has found that “the balance in relation to the grant of parole, its cancellation and the revocation of cancellations may have tilted too far in favour of offenders and sometimes, even very serious offenders”.
Mr Callinan also suggested there may need to be changes to the Parole Board’s membership. He said that “As a result of some of my discussions, I became concerned that there are those involved in the work of the board who might find it difficult to accept that there were other or better ways of doing things than had been done over decades”.
I hope the Victorian Government will act on Justice Callinan’s findings. Just over a month ago I wrote to the Victorian Attorney-General urging action concerning parole for crime occasioning actual violence, and for repeat offenders. I said that the murder of Jill Meagher and the case of Adrain Bayley, and many other cases of people who have been convicted of offences while out on parole, show that the system of maximum judicial discretion has failed us, and that the present system is allowing prisoners to serve manifestly inadequate sentences.

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