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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Stephen Franks on Parole

Former ACT Party Justice spokesman and penal reform campaigner has blogged his thoughts on the topical subject of parole. Hat Tip David Farrar.

I made parole reform a key objective of my time in Parliament. Much research found no robust evidence that it works for any of its claimed purposes, and it may not even save prison costs.

It is likely to increase the propensity to reoffend, by pandering to criminals’ high preference for risk. As gamblers, they respond addictively to risk propositions that offer chances of high pay-offs with an uncertain price. Parole is added in to their warped assessment of the low odds of being caught, convicted and sentenced to a meaningful sentence.

Stephen's key suggestions, drawn in part from "President Clinton’s astonishingly successful criminal justice reforms in 1996" include;

End all early release parole. Courts above all should be truthful and sentencing must be certain;

All repeat and violent offenders should be on post release supervision for a stipulated period, including alcohol prohibition, family support and work conditions if relevant.

Strict monitoring during post sentence supervision must show that the system is serious(random checks)

Pending the abolition of early release parole:

Restore its status as a privilege not a right;

Board must be satisfied of genuine remorse;

Board must take account of victim feelings, of community expectations of a price to be paid for crime, and of the effect of any release on judicial control of sentencing. The 2002 law prevents the Board from recognising these factors;

No appeals against denial of parole - it is a privilege;

No legal aid to support parole applications - it is a privilege;

Police and Corrections should regain immediate power to return parolees to custody on discovery of any breach of terms;

Court involvement on breach only to hear parolee challenges to the recall reasons, or claims that the breach is trivial, or should otherwise be excused;

Parole offences should automatically be treated as serious of their class for sentencing purposes, because it is a breach of trust, and shows the absence of remorse;

Publication of full and accurate statistics on parole offending.

Check out the whole post here.


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