INDEPENDENT NEWS

Lack Of Data On Parole Offending

Published: Fri 3 Nov 2000 12:49 AM
ACT Urges Action On Lack Of Data On Parole Offending
ACT Justice spokesman Stephen Franks seeks urgent action to address the “appalling” lack of information on the rate of offending by prisoners who are either on parole or given early release.
“We need to know about offending of paroled prisoners because it is quite clear that many are going on to commit terrible crimes. They repay the community for the privilege of being let out early from jail by preying on the first defenceless people they come across. Repeatedly however, I am told that no statistics are kept on the offending of those on parole or granted early release.
“I now learn from the Justice Minister’s answer to one of my latest Parliamentary questions that 36 of the last 50 people convicted of murder in this country had previous convictions. However, the Minister tells me that ‘no statistical information is kept on whether those convicted of murder were on bail or parole, or other release’ at the time of the offence,” said Mr Franks.
“But from information that I have been able to gather, about 50 percent of all prisoners released and some three-quarters of serious offenders will be re-convicted within just a year. I estimate that at least one murder every six weeks is committed by someone who has been released early from prison. The fact that 70 percent of those last 50 murderers had previous convictions supports that worrying estimate of the numbers killed by people who should have been in prison.
“My Criminal Justice (Parole Offenders) Amendment Bill might be reached for debate by Parliament next Wednesday, November 8. It would strengthen provisions for dealing with offences committed by parolees released from prison on trust. It would also compel the Justice Minister to ensure that detailed information is both compiled and published on offences committed while on parole.
“I am becoming increasingly suspicious that this information is not being kept simply because it would have shown long ago that the existing system of parole is not working. It would have told the victims’ families the risk that became horrendous reality for them, was all for nothing. People raped and murdered by parolees pay the terrible cost of parole. Its supporters believe that is a cost worth paying to cut reoffending. But if they have not been recording parole outcomes how can anyone know whether it is worth the cost?
“Or don’t supporters care, because they expect those paying the cost to live outside parole supporters’ leafy suburbs?
“We need a change and I look forward to MPs across the house sending my bill to select committee hearings so that these issues of vital public concern can be openly debated,” Mr Franks said.
ENDS
For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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