How police and probation harass prisoners on parole - the case of Tony Maude

Sunday 21 October 2012, 12:49PM

In 2007 I was asked by the district court to conduct an alcohol and drug assessment on Tony Maude who was facing charges of selling methamphetamine. Maude was exposed to drug use at an early age. He started smoking cannabis at the age of 10, using speed at 13 and drinking at age 15. When he was 22, he attended rehab at the Salvation Army and managed to get his drinking under control.  But it wasn’t long before he started using methamphetamine instead and eventually began selling it to feed his habit.

He got busted by police and was sentenced him to prison for six years. Mr Maude knew he needed help and while in prison, he attended individual counselling for 18 months and was then admitted to the Drug Treatment Unit. He successfully completed the programme and was released on parole in May 2010 – after serving more than three years in prison. But police and probation wouldn’t leave him alone. Since being released, Mr Maude has been recalled to prison four times to finish serving his sentence.

First recall

As part of his parole conditions, Maude was required to attend another rehabilitation programme in the community. He was half way through this when he was asked by the programme facilitators to describe a potential high-risk situation and how he would cope with it.  He made one up and described an imaginary situation in such a realistic way, that the facilitators thought it had actually occurred and passed the story on to probation. Instead of checking the details, his probation officer immediately told the police Mr Maude had breached his parole conditions. Police arrested him and sent him back to prison. When Mr Maude appeared at the recall hearing a month later, it was clear to the Board that the facilitators, the Probation Service and the police had all got it wrong – and ordered Mr Maude to be released.

Probation then tried to breach him for failing to complete the rehabilitation course (because he was in prison) and hauled him back into court. His probation officer received a serious reprimand from the judge for his treatment of Mr Maude and for wasting the court’s time.

Second recall

When he got out, Maude went to live with a friend at an approved address. He had only been there about a month when his mother died after a long battle with cancer. But his probation officer didn’t care. He was miffed at being told off by the judge and now had it in for Mr Maude. Shortly thereafter the police raided the house pretending they were looking for methamphetamine.

Police found a cannabis plant growing in a wardrobe – in the bedroom where his friend slept – who was also the owner of the house. They arrested Mr Maude and sent him back to prison – but didn’t arrest his friend who owned the cannabis plant. The friend appeared at the recall hearing a month later and testified that the cannabis plant belonged to him not to Mr Maude. For a second time, the parole board agreed that Mr Maude had not reoffended and released him immediately.

Third recall

During the ten months that Mr Maude had been on parole, he started going out with a female friend he had known for many years.  His probation officer was aware of the relationship and had even let them go on holiday together. He gave Mr Maude special permission not to report into him during the week they were away. About a week after his second recall hearing, Mr Maude and his partner became engaged.

By now he had a different probation officer. Feeling happy about his engagement, he told his new probation officer the good news. Three days later, he and his fiancée were both served with a non-association order. After being honest with probation about his situation, Mr Maude ‘felt gutted’. Nevertheless, he stayed away from his fiancée and they broke up.

Mr Maude had also told his probation officer that he had some work organised doing up cars and asked for permission to start.  His probation officer gave him the go ahead.  Lo and behold, a few days later, the police came to the property where he was working. They found Mr Maude and rang probation to check that he was allowed to be there.  The probation officer told the police officer it had been approved and he was allowed to work.

Later that night, Mr Maude’s sister rang him up and told him that the armed offenders’ squad had been round to her house wanting to arrest him.  Mr Maude turned himself in six weeks later and the Probation service told the Parole Board he had been “working without written permission”. This time the Board officially recalled him to prison – even though the Corrections Department is supposed to help prisoners find work because  having a job on release reduces the risk of re-offending.

Fourth recall

Since working on parole was a minor breach, Mr Maude was eventually released again – still on parole for his original offending (selling meth). This time, he lived with friends at an approved address in Seaview.  However, he began to get depressed because the house was unsuitable to bring his children to. (On top of all his other problems, Mr Maude had also been trying to gain custody of his five year old daughter in the Family court.) Mr Maude was also beginning to feel that no matter what he did, the police and the probation service seemed to be out to get him.  He bumped into a friend who offered him a smoke of methamphetamine. In a moment of weakness, he accepted the offer – and started using again.

Eventually Mr Maude found a nice three-bedroom home where he could have his children and the probation service approved the accommodation. He had only been in the house for three weeks when he was raided by the police – yet again.  This time they found a small amount of methamphetamine. He pleaded guilty and was returned to prison to serve out the remainder of his original sentence

Recommendation to the Court

Ever since he was first released, on parole Mr Maude has been harassed by the police and probation service. During this time, his mother died, his engagement broke up and his ex-partner took off to Christchurch with his daughter and the police raided every house he stayed at.

Mr Maude relapsed under the overwhelming stress of this combined series of events. In my report to the Court, I concluded that, although he relapsed, Mr Maude does not require any further drug treatment. “What he needs to be left alone by the police and probation service to get on with his life.” (Posted with Mr Maude’s permission.)

Roger Brooking: brookingblog.com

Spokesperson for Howard League for Penal Reform