Home > Parole Board annual report, 2017.

Guiney, Ciara (2019) Parole Board annual report, 2017. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 69, Spring 2019 , pp. 15-16.

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In October 2018, the Parole Board published its annual report.1 This was the 16th annual report since the board was established in 2001. The aim of the Parole Board is to review the cases of prisoners who have received either ‘determinate’ sentences greater than or equal to eight years or life sentences and to provide guidance on how these sentences are managed. The current report provided an overview of the board’s activities for 2017.

 

Issues relating to mental health among prisoners

Within the report, the problem of mental health in prisoners was highlighted. The board has acknowledged and provided support for recommendations put forward by the late Judge Michael Reilly in 2016.2

 

Parole Board process

With the aim of increasing understanding of the Parole Board process, presentations in prisons across Ireland were made by board members. Prisoners were given the opportunity to take part in discussions and give feedback on the process. The board intends to continue these presentations with the aim of going to each prison biannually.

 

Parole Board process review

Delays between Parole Board reviews and not observing timelines were identified as issues that were not acceptable. It is hoped that these problems will be addressed once the Parole Bill 2016,3 which is currently progressing through the Houses of the Oireachtas, is enacted. This Bill provides for parole hearings to occur within six months of the initial review date.

 

Prison visits

In 2017, the Parole Board met with groups of life-sentenced prisoners in eight prisons to discuss and clarify what was involved in the parole process and to encourage them to engage with the rehabilitation process.

 

Victims and families

The report highlighted that prior to a prisoner review, correspondence was frequently received from victims and/or their families disclosing the level of pain and emotional suffering experienced as a result of the prisoner’s actions. These are taken into consideration before a recommendation is made.

 

Statistics

The report highlighted important statistics for 2017. Overall, there was a total caseload of 346. This figure included new cases and cases at second or subsequent stages of the review process. In addition, the following were noted: 

  • 66 cases were referred to the board for review, of which two were on remand for drug offences.
  • 48 of the 66 prisoners invited to participate accepted an invitation to take part in the review process; one prisoner was on remand for drug offences.
  • Three prisoners declined to take part, two of which were on determinate sentences.
  • 15 invitations were not responded to, all of these were on determinate sentences. A possible explanation put forward for non-engagement is that prisoners in receipt of determinate sentences are automatically eligible for a 25% reduction in sentence. 

The Parole Board met 11 times and 114 case recommendations were made to the Minister for Justice and Equality:

102 case recommendations were accepted in full.

  • 21 of these case recommendations were life-sentenced prisoners who were granted parole on a phased basis.
  • Three cases were accepted conditionally or in part.
  • Nine decisions were pending at year-end.
  • 32 prisoners were reviewed for the first time.
  • 82 prisoners were reviewed as part of second or subsequent reviews.
  • 114 interviews were carried out by board members, of which 32 were first reviews. Interviews are not viewed as essential for second or subsequent reviews; however, the board believes that an interview is sometimes in the best interests of the prisoner. 

Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan TD acknowledged the level of work carried out by the Parole Board and thanked the chairman, Mr John Costello, and board members for their important contribution to the rehabilitation process.4 In addition, Minister Flanagan reiterated his verbal commitment to progress the Parole Bill 2016 through the Oireachtas to enable the Parole Board to achieve statutory status. This was welcomed by the Irish Penal Reform Trust.5 

 

 

1  The Parole Board (2018) Annual report 2017. Dublin: The Parole Board. https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/29764/

2  Reilly M (2016) Healthcare in Irish prisons. Dublin: Department of Justice and Equality. https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/26885/

3  Parole Bill 2016. Available online at https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/bills/bill/2016/29/

4  Department of Justice and Equality (2018) Press release: Minister Flanagan publishes Parole Board annual report 2017. Available online at http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/PR18000311

5  Irish Penal Reform Trust (2017) Press release: Parole Board annual report 2017. Dublin: Irish Penal Reform Trust. Available online at http://www.iprt.ie/contents/3338

Item Type:Article
Issue Title:Issue 69, Spring 2019
Date:June 2019
Page Range:pp. 15-16
Publisher:Health Research Board
Volume:Issue 69, Spring 2019
EndNote:View
Subjects:MM-MO Crime and law > Criminal penalty > Community service (penalty) > Probation or parole
T Demographic characteristics > Offender
VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland

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