Thursday, 11 July 2019
Parole Bill 2016: Committee and Remaining Stages
On that last point, the period that a child sentenced to life imprisonment spends in a child detention centre does count in determining when they are eligible, but they cannot apply for parole while still a minor. There are other provisions in law that deal with the release of children. I hope this answers the point made by Senator Bacik.
With regard to the proposed amendment No. 4, section 26 provides that the board will write to the prisoner telling the prisoner when he or she will be eligible for parole and asking whether he or she wishes to be considered. That is the first step. The prisoner's written confirmation that he or she wishes to be considered is the application for parole. The parole board will, whenever possible, give the prisoner six months' advance notice of becoming eligible. The amendment proposes to delete section 26(4) that says the board shall not consider the person’s release on parole prior to the date on which he or she becomes so eligible. The Senator's amendment would have the effect of allowing prisoners to be considered by the board before they are actually eligible. I believe the existing wording is very clear and reflects precisely what is intended in raising the point at which a person becomes eligible for parole to 12 years. The board will have written to the prisoner six months in advance of the eligibility date and the prisoner can use this time to prepare his or her case with the assistance of his or her legal representative. The board can consider the matter once the prisoner has fulfilled the eligibility requirements, which I believe are clear and reasonable. For that reason I am not in a position to support the amendment.