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Parole now tougher

Briefs

Cite as: September 2014 88 (09) LIJ, p.14

Chairman of the Adult Parole Board Bill Gillard QC told the criminal law conference he accepts it is now more difficult for prisoners to win parole under changes introduced as a result of the Callinan report.

Mr Gillard was unapologetic about the tougher stance taken by the board, but said delays in releasing prisoners were often exacerbated by the failure of Corrections Victoria to prepare them for release through drug, alcohol and violence programs.

“It is Corrections that must make sure that the person is ready for parole,” Mr Gillard said.

“Corrections Victoria has the obligation to put the prisoner in the right position to apply for parole. Corrections are aware of this and in the future things will be done a lot better.”

Many criminal lawyers have been critical of changes introduced after former High Court judge Ian Callinan reviewed Victoria’s parole system in the wake of Jill Meagher’s murder and a number of other murders committed by parolees.

Mr Gillard said that despite a more conservative approach the board wants to ensure it grants parole to as many eligible prisoners as possible. “It is absolutely important that we send as many out as we can. The big plus of parole is that it’s under supervision.”

Deputy commissioner, offender management division at Corrections Victoria, Andrew Reaper, said although many people linked parole reform to the Jill Meagher case, it was already on the agenda.

Mr Reaper acknowledged that the substantial rise in the prison population to a current total of 6200 was a “challenge” but said an $84 million funding injection meant there would be a substantial increase in the number of programs offered to inmates.

Between 2012-13 and 2013-14 there was an 18 per cent reduction in the number of prisoners who had their parole cancelled, he said, but a 96 per cent increase in the number who had their parole denied.

“We are very cognisant that this is a demand driven system,” he said.

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