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CORRECTIONS

New law to reduce unnecessary parole hearings

Wednesday 26 September 2012, 3:20PM
By Judith Collins
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Justice Minister Judith Collins has introduced legislation to reduce stress and anxiety for victims of crime by cutting back on up to 800 unnecessary parole hearings for offenders each year.

The Parole Amendment Bill will amend the Parole Act 2002 and will implement the Government’s Post-Election Action Plan to reduce the number of unnecessary parole hearings where the offender has little prospect of release.

“For offenders who refuse to acknowledge their offending and have made little or no effort at rehabilitation, it makes no sense to hold parole hearings.

“Victims of crime have told us they are caused needless stress and anxiety by having to relive their ordeal year after year when the person who offended against them still poses a threat to the community.

“We just don’t think it is right to continue to cause harm and upset for no reason, so we’re taking action to fix it,” Ms Collins says.

Under the current Act, the Parole Board is required to consider every offender who is eligible for parole at least once every 12 months. On average, each offender has three hearings before they are approved for release. A third of all offenders have four or more hearings.

“The new Bill increases the maximum time between parole hearings from 12 months to two years. For offenders serving indeterminate sentences or sentences of 10 or more years, the maximum time between parole hearings increases from three to five years.

“Future hearings will also be aligned with the completion of core milestones in an inmate’s offender plan - agreed activities and goals that aim to reduce likelihood of reoffending.

“These changes aim to reduce the number of unnecessary parole hearings, not increase the length of time offenders spend in prison. Offenders who are making progress on rehabilitating themselves will not be affected,” Ms Collins says.

The Parole Board holds more than 6,000 parole hearings each year.