Prisoners coming up before parole hearings can be held to account for serious crimes they haven’t been convicted of.
Parole Board chairman Justice Warwick Gendall told a conference of crime victims organised by the Red Raincoat Trust in Wellington of a case last year where convicted murderer Paul Joseph Dally came up for his first parole hearing.
Dally killed 13-year-old Taita girl Carla Kardno and buried her on a remote beach on the south coast of Wellington in 1989.
Dally had not undertaken any sexual treatment programme and claimed that he was not a sexual offender as he nad not been convicted of rape.
Justice Gendall said he knew that Dally confessed to the murder and revealed where he had hidden the body after police told him he would not be charged with rape.
"That is how the case unravelled. But the simple fact is he had committed grievous sexual offences on the girl before killing her.
"I was able to say to Mr Dally in the course of questioning him that I and the board were not impressed by any claim that he was not needing treatment for sexual crimes because the issue was not what he was convicted of but what in fact he was and is."
Justice Gendall outlined his handling of this case as he defended what he described as New Zealand’s internationally respected parole system.
He said releasing prisoners on parole before serving their full sentence was three to four time more effective in preventing reoffending than simply releasing them at the end of their term.
Any system that released criminals into the community was hard to take for anybody who had lost a loved family member, colleague or friend.
‘‘But the underpinnings of the parole system and the paramount consideration is the protection of the community.
‘‘You may ask how on earth release on parole of murderers can be of benefit or protection of the community.
‘‘There will be a small number of unredeemable, dreadful criminal who should never be released but the majority of them will in some way or at some time qualify for re-entry, if the laws of the country provide for such possibility and obviously Parliament in New Zealand has done so.’’
Management of risk to the community was crucial.
Parole systems, where offenders could be recalled to prison if they breached release conditions, were three to four times more effective in preventing reoffending.
Without parole conditions and supervision many untreated or unmotivated prisoners simply returned to their criminal ways.
New Zealand had an internationally respected parole system where conditions were imposed on an inmate who had approved accommodation, employment. support and treatment so that life on the outside was structured and easier to avoid return to crime.
‘‘Secondly, conduct is improved. The prospect of not being granted parole motivates many prisoners to be especially well-behaved whilst in prison.’’
Of the 150 ‘‘lifers’’ released on parole since 2002, only 30 per cent had been recalled. The other 99 were living useful lives and being managed safely in the community.
The parole system gave an incentive for criminals to undertake rehabilitation and treatment programmes.
There were also huge saving to Government if hundreds of prisoners could be outside on probation and parole and not causing trouble.
‘‘The overarching principle is that it is in the public interest that a prisoner not simply serve out his time and be released without any programme, treatment or the like because...they are more likely to re-offend.’’
Last year the board held 6093 hearings and granted parole to 1424 prisoners on fixed sentences. It also paroled 38, or eight per cent, of 451 serving life sentences.
- Fairfax Media