Seanad debates

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Parole Bill 2016: Committee and Remaining Stages


10:30 am

Photo of David StantonDavid Stanton (Cork East, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

There is an ambiguity in that regard. It is important that legislation be certain. In the Minister's view, the management of prisoners is, and must remain, a matter for the governor of the prison and the Prison Service., although the prison governor will always take seriously the recommendations of the Parole Board. We must allow for circumstances where, through no fault of the prisoner or the prison, it might not be possible to implement the recommendations of the Parole Board. For example, the board may make a recommendation that a prisoner move to an open prison but it could transpire that the open prison is located far from the prisoner's family. It would not be practicable or desirable, therefore, for him or her to make such a move. Similarly, a recommendation that a prisoner attend a course or participate in treatment could turn out to be unsuitable or unhelpful. Such decisions are dynamic and must take account of circumstances on the ground and day-to-day realities.

The amendment would take the power to make decisions about day-to-day management of certain prisoners out of the hands of the prison governor, who deals with the consequences of those decisions. Ultimately, the governor and the Prison Service are best placed to make the final decisions on such matters. It is not the intention or practice of the Prison Service to ignore recommendations of the Parole Board. The governors and the Prison Service are anxious to assist and support prisoners to rehabilitate. While it is in their interest to do so, it is also their professional role and, in many instances, personal ambition. They are the people dealing with sentence management day to day. The recommendations can be recommendations only and the Bill needs to provide clarity that this is the case. While I understand the Senator's intention, I ask that she withdraw the amendment, which I am not in a position to support.


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