Andrews Government should let Parole
Board do its job, says Liberty Victoria
Liberty Victoria warns that the Andrews Government’s proposed new parole laws are an unnecessary and dangerous step backwards for community safety and undermine the separation of powers.
The human rights group’s president, Jessie Taylor, said the proposed laws would seriously infringe upon the separation of powers, which is a foundation of our legal system.
She said, "In cases where persons stand to be sentenced for killing a police officer, the Courts sentence offenders based on a careful analysis of the relevant law and the particular circumstances of the case. Such offenders will often receive life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of a certain number of years. In such cases, it’s for the Adult Parole Board to decide whether that person should be released on Parole. The Adult Parole Board plays a crucial role by managing the release of offenders on parole to enhance the safety of the community.
"By introducing legislation that bars parole for a category of offences, Parliament is interfering with the role of judges, as the independent umpires, to make decisions as to sentence. It is a fundamental tenet of the rule of law that the Parliament not interfere with the independence and discretion of the Courts.
"The proposed amendments would, for no good reason, interfere with the institutional integrity and mandate of the Parole Board."
Ms Taylor said, "the Parole Board is better placed than politicians to make determinations about who should be released on parole. The Board is comprised of a range of experts in the field who have the significant advantage of having before them all the relevant facts and circumstances that pertain to each case for determination.
"The Government should allow the Parole Board to do its job – assess each case on its merits and make well-informed and considered decisions with community safety as the most important consideration.
"Further, the prospect of release on parole often provides strong motivation for prisoners to engage in rehabilitation while in prison. By taking away any prospect of parole for a particular class of offenders, the Government has retrospectively moved the goal-posts."
Liberty Victoria points out that section 73A of the Corrections Act 1986 provides that the Board must give paramount consideration to the safety and protection of the community when making determinations about parole.
The Andrews Government claims that the proposed laws would "send the strongest possible message to the members of Victoria Police who keep our state safe – we respect you and we honour you."
Ms Taylor said, "While it is vitally important that the Government respects and honours the work of Victoria Police, it is not appropriate to do so by introducing laws that undermine the parole system and the separation of powers".