Parole Bill Completes Committee Stage

by Desk Editor on Wednesday, February 11, 2015 — 10:01 PM

A bill intended to reduce the number of parole hearings has completed its committee stage.

The Parole Amendment Bill reduces the number of parole hearings where the parole board believes the offender has little prospect of release.

The intent is to reduce stress on victims about hearings when there was no chance of parole being granted. Most parolees have four hearings before they are released and former Justice Minister Phil Goff said it would reduce the number of parole hearings by about 800 a year saving around $700,000 a year.

Mr Goff said the advantage of parole was those who were released under conditions had far lower levels of re-offending, than those who were released from prison at the end of their sentence without conditions.

The Greens opposed the bill because they said it reduced the value of parole as tool to manage offenders’ safe return to the community. Green MP Kevin Clendon said the argument over savings was based on a “best guess” and did not take into account the cost of keeping someone longer in jail when they could have been released earlier. Mr Clendon said very few victims chose to be part of the parole hearings system.

Mr Goff said he could not see the Green Party’s objections to the changes as the Parole Board had the ability to bring forward parole as well when circumstances warranted.

National MPs said the legislation was putting victims “at the heart” of the system.

The bill completed its committee stage and was reported without amendment by 104 to 16 with the Greens and Maori Party opposed.

The House then rose just before 10pm.

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