Manawatu figures almost halve

Manawatu offenders who have been paroled back into the community are behaving better, with the number of them offending while in the community nearly halving in two years.

Figures released to the Manawatu Standard under the Official Information Act show 29 people on parole were convicted for offences in Manawatu last year.

That was a 42 per cent drop from 2011, when 50 parolees were convicted for offences while in the community.

It was also better than the national trend, which saw a 27.8 per cent reduction in people offending while on parole from 2011 to last year.

Nationwide, 518 people offended while on parole last year compared to 717 in 2011.

National commissioner of Corrections services Jeremy Lightfoot said there were about 29,000 offenders serving community-based sentences in New Zealand, of which 2420 were on parole.

"We manage community-based offenders to ensure they comply with their sentences and orders, thereby reducing the likelihood of reoffending and minimising their risk of harm to others."

Offenders who have been given sentences of two or more years' imprisonment become eligible for parole after they have served a third of their time.

They then appear before the Parole Board, which releases the prisoner into the community if they are deemed to pose no undue risk.

While Corrections had no part to play in deciding if people were eligible for parole, Lightfoot said the department did help the board in its decision-making.

"To assist the board in making a decision about an offender's suitability for release, the department provides information including a parole assessment report.

"This report includes steps taken by an offender to address the causes of their offending, comment on an offender's behaviour in prison and a detailed release proposal."

Release conditions were placed on offenders, ranging from restricting what areas of the country they could visit to preventing them from visiting bars.

Lightfoot said people who offended while on parole committed a range of offences, from traffic and dishonesty offences through to far more serious crimes.

One of those to recently offend in Manawatu was Sheldon Mitchell Ostler.

The 23-year-old was convicted and discharged after pleading guilty in the Palmerston North District Court last month to three charges of breaching release conditions.

One of the breaches involved him heading into the community Corrections office in Feilding with cannabis in his pocket, while on another he got lost while pig hunting and did not make it home before officers checked to see if he was there.

Ostler, who had already been recalled to prison, was convicted and discharged.

Manawatu Standard