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Damning Government report slams Adult Parole Board for releasing serious offenders far too easily

Melbourne woman, Jill Meagher was murdered by a man out on parole.
Melbourne woman, Jill Meagher was murdered by a man out on parole. Source: News Limited
THE Adult Parole Board has been releasing serious violent and sexual offenders far too easily and is infected with a culture which is tilted in favour of very serious criminals, a damning Government report has found.
Under sweeping changes proposed to Victoria's parole system by former High Court judge Ian Callinan, only those violent criminals, serious sex offenders and burglars who have a "negligible" chance of reoffending will be given parole.
It comes as it was claimed Jill Meagher's killer Adrian Bayley was granted parole without even appearing in person before the Adult Parole Board.
Bayley was left free to kill after receiving parole through paperwork alone, according to 3AW's Neil Mitchell.
The Callinan Report, which was commissioned in the wake of Ms Meagher's murder last year by parolee rapist Bayley, also recommends making it harder for these offenders to get parole by introducing a review panel which can overturn decisions to release them.
Mr Callinan found that under the current Adult Parole Board ``it has proved to be too easy for serious violent and sexual offenders to obtain and to remain on parole'' and that ``the balance in relation to the grant of parole, its cancellation and the revocation of cancellations may have been tilted too far in favour of offenders, and sometimes, even very serious offenders.''
He also found that ``in practice the paramountcy of the safety of the public has not been given the prominence it deserves'' and has called for this to be remedied by legislation.
The report has been considered by a cabinet subcommittee of Premier Denis Napthine, Corrections Minister Edward O'Donohue, Attorney-General Robert Clark and Police Minister Kim Wells.
- with Andy Burns
 Justice of The High Court of Australia, Judge Ian Callinan.
Justice of The High Court of Australia, Judge Ian Callinan. Source: News Limited
The committee is believed to have been broadly supportive of the report's findings but raised concerns over how its finding would be implemented in practice.
In a damming assessment of the board's culture Mr Callinan said that its members were in danger of ``institutionalisation''.
``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 they had been done over decades,'' he said.
Under Mr Callinan's proposed changes, offenders who have committed intentional crimes of violence which could result in personal injury requiring treatment, or serious sexual crimes, will be find it harder to get parole than other prisoners.
Their applications for parole would be considered by a panel headed by a judge or a retired judge of the County or Supreme Courts which must also contain a psychiatrist and a community member.
Herald Sun covers
Herald Sun covers Source: HeraldSun
Only if this panel is unanimous will the prisoner be considered for parole.
But before the prisoner can be released Mr Callinan recommends that the decision to free the criminal will need to be confirmed by a review panel which can refuse or vary the order.
These offenders will only be granted parole if they can satisfy the parole board that ``Taking as paramount the safety and protection of the community, to a very high degree of probability that the risk of offending is negligible''.
Mr Callinan has called for offenders who burgle homes to be added to this category of serious criminal because the law ``has always regarded'' these offences ``as having a special tendency to violence by reason of the alarmed response to an intruder by a householder.''
The Herald Sun understands prisoners who breach their parole and are sent back to prison will have to serve at least half of the sentence that was remaining at the time of their release.
Mr Callinan also called for a complete shake-up of appointments to the Adult Parole Board, which could see just two current members still on the board at the end of next year.
Each board member would sit for a maximum term of six, or nine years at most.
The report is being reviewed by the Government and it is understood it will be made available for public consultation.
Callinan's recommendations for the Adult Parole Board
Callinan’s recommendations for the Adult Parole Board Source: HeraldSun

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