STRONGER parole guidelines have been rolled out across Queensland, making it harder for prisoners to be granted early release.
The new robust guidelines outline a number of factors that the parole board must consider when deciding whether to grant parole to inmates.
These factors include the prisoner’s criminal history, the likelihood of reoffending, the seriousness of their offences, behaviour in custody, support in the community and, importantly, their progress through rehabilitation.
ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT
Corrective Services Minister Mark Ryan said the highest priority for the Parole Board should always be the safety of the community.
“These guidelines send a clear message to the Parole Board Queensland that Queenslanders expect that their safety is the paramount consideration when decisions around parole are considered,” Minister Ryan said.
“The Sofronoff Review was unequivocal: the most effective way to secure the safety of our community is to ensure an offender’s success on parole through structured supervision and rehabilitation.
“The guidelines have been revised to take into account important recommendations from the Sofronoff Review and recent legislation changes, particularly with respect to suspension and arrest of offenders who breach the conditions of their parole orders,” Minister Ryan said.
The guidelines now require Parole Board Queensland to consider conditions which require GPS tracking of parolees and the imposition of a curfew, along with important restrictions on the access to certain technologies, in relation to granting parole.
“The guidelines ask the parole board to give careful consideration to whether a parolee, particularly serious violent or sexual offenders, should be prohibited from accessing certain websites or technology such as blogs, forums, wikis, personal introductory sites and social networking,” Minister Ryan said.
To strengthen community safety, the new Ministerial Guidelines also ask the parole board to take into account any intelligence information provided by State and Commonwealth agencies in respect of a prisoner.
“The Queensland Corrective Services Intelligence Group has always worked closely with its State and Federal counterparts to support the security and safety of our correctional system.
The addition of this specific guideline reinforces that community safety will always be our number one priority,” Minister Ryan said.
In line with the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to ensure the safety of frontline correctional officers, the guidelines, for the first time, also require the parole board to specifically consider a prisoner’s suitability for parole in light of the prisoner’s behaviour in prison including whether the prisoner has committed any assaults or participated in altercations against correctional centre staff.
“The Palaszczuk Government does not tolerate violence against our staff – if a prisoner is violent in custody then the parole board must seriously consider their suitability to be managed safely in the community,” Minister Ryan said.
With the new parole board commencing its work from July 3, Parole Board Queensland President, Mr Michael Byrne QC, welcomed the new guidelines.
“The new guidelines from the Minster incorporate important amendments to the legislation and key recommendations from the Sofronoff Review which are collectively focused on enhancing community safety through better rehabilitation of prisoners,” Mr Byrne said.