Greens say Victorian parole laws already very strict

Friday, June 9, 2017

“In light of the tragic siege in Brighton, it is understandable that questions are again being asked about the adequacy of Victoria’s parole system. However, it is important to remember that Victoria has strict parole laws after the state’s parole system was comprehensively reviewed following earlier tragedies,” Greens Justice Spokesperson Sue Pennicuik said today.

“The Prime Minister has suggested that there be cases where parole be approved by state attorneys-general. The Greens would be very concerned to see this happen. Parole decisions should always be made at arm’s length from executive government,” Ms Pennicuik said.

“In Victoria, parole laws, decisions regarding the granting or cancelling of parole and the conditions attached to parole are made by the Adult Parole Board, whose primary consideration is the safety of the community.

“Parole applications by serious violent offenders and sex offenders are now handled by a separate division of the Parole Board, in recognition of the higher risk associated with those types of offenders.

“It appears there may have been a gap in communication with regard to the information about the offender in Brighton that the Parole Board was not informed about. This can be overcome by ensuring that information is available to decision makers rather than handing over parole decisions to politicians.

“We also have to keep in mind that parole serves an important function in supervising and monitoring prisoners who are released into the community after serving a non-parole period. If prisoners are denied parole, they will still be released at the end of their sentence, without the supervision and support of parole officers,” Ms Pennicuik said.

“Unfortunately, even with strict parole laws, it is not possible to create a perfect system. As stated by the Sentencing Advisory Council, ‘we can never completely eliminate risk’, and politicians should not falsely promise this.”