Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pedestrian Safety Parole Victoria acts on scathing report into parole system The Australian 20.8.13 Community Safety

Premier Denis Napthine today pledged to overhaul the parole system to reverse a pattern of favouring the offender over community safety.
"This report draws a line in the sand," he said. "The culture of parole in Victoria must and will change.
"Dangerous offenders in the past have been given the benefit of the doubt that they shouldn't have been. That changes today."


Victoria acts on scathing report into parole system

THE Napthine government has vowed to implement cultural change in Victoria's parole system to stop dangerous offenders being released, after a damning report found "very frequent" parole breaches had left the community at risk.
The report by former High Court judge Ian Callinan, released today, was commissioned in the wake of Jill Meagher's murder last September by serial rapist Adrian Ernest Bayley, who was on parole at the time.
Mr Callinan specifically investigated Bayley's case and how he came to be granted parole in 2010 after raping five women, but said he was given "deficient" information.
"We asked for, and were provided with, the Bayley file which did not disclose the names of the members of the panel that granted parole to Bayley," he said in his report, which has been released but redacted in large sections.
"I regard that as a deficiency."
Mr Callinan said there was no easy explanation for why Bayley was not re-imprisoned when he pleaded guilty to assaulting a man while on parole, just a few months before Meagher's death.
"The parole board had both cause and opportunity to cancel Bayley's parole," he said.
"It is no answer to say that he had an appeal pending.
"He ought to have been known by then to be a recidivist serious, violent, sexual offender, with a history of being so from a young age and with an established pattern of doing so."
Premier Denis Napthine today pledged to overhaul the parole system to reverse a pattern of favouring the offender over community safety.
"This report draws a line in the sand," he said. "The culture of parole in Victoria must and will change.
"Dangerous offenders in the past have been given the benefit of the doubt that they shouldn't have been. That changes today."
Dr Napthine said the government accepted all 23 of Mr Callinan's recommendations, but would seek further community consultation on an unspecified number of them.
Among the changes to be immediately implemented are term limits for parole board members, making the board chair a full time position, and changing policy to ensure victims and their families are given adequate notice of an offender's release.
"The recommendations make it clear that the emphasis of the adult parole board in Victoria was misguided and it was wrong," Dr Napthine said.
"The consequences have been totally and utterly unacceptable.
"That will change from today."
The government has not acted on calls to give victims an opportunity to talk to the parole board before a prisoner is released.
Dr Napthine also refused to answer whether the parole board would receive any significant funding boost to meet Mr Callinan's comments on under-resourcing.
"Our consultations satisfied me that breaches of parole are very frequent, sometimes go undetected or are left unremarked," Mr Callinan said.
"This is the consequence, in part at least, of the limits of the resources of the Department.
Mr Callinan said prisoners had come to expect automatic parole and become "de facto clients" of the justice system.
The parole system is set for further revelations today amid the pending release of a previous review by professor James Ogloff into nine murder cases by parolees.
The government had fought the release of that report, but is expected to see it released by the Coroner's Court with significant redactions.
The parole board did not address Mr Callinan’s specific criticisms of its failures in a statement issued following the report’s release, but said it “stands ready” to improve the system.
“The Board endorses the comments by Mr Callinan that it has been under resourced,” the board said. “It also supports his emphasis on public safety.
“The Board looks forward to working with the state government to implement changes to the parole system following the Callinan report.”

Adrian Bayley
A review of Victoria's parole system came after the murder of Jill Meagher last September by serial rapist Adrian Ernest Bayley, who was on parole at the time. Source: Supplied

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