This JUSTICE report is a timely contribution to the debate over the future of the parole system in England and Wales. Case-law has called into question whether the Parole Board is sufficiently independent from government, and whether it has the powers and resources necessary to make its decisions with all the relevant information and without unnecessary delay. Meanwhile, the system has come under considerable strain during a time of rising custody rates and new indeterminate sentences. It has been suggested that the Parole Board might become a court or – like the Mental Health Review Tribunal – form part of the new Tribunals Service. The Ministry of Justice has now launched a major consultation into the future of the Parole Board, considering these options, amongst others.
A New Parole System for England and Wales responds to these issues, covering:
- Conditional release
- The constitutional status of the Parole Board and the need for reform
- Judging risk – predicting recidivism and harm
- Procedure, guidance and rules
- Determinate sentence prisoners
- Life and indeterminate sentence prisoners
- Recall and re-release
- Existing conditional early release schemes
- Existing procedures for recall and re-release
- Life and indeterminate sentence cases – an overview
- Two other systems: New Zealand and France
- Examples of risk assessment tools found in parole/life and indeterminate sentence hearing reports
It calls for a new, independent Parole Tribunal, to form part of the Tribunals Service, that will combine improved decision-making and greater transparency and command public confidence while upholding the principles of access to justice, human rights and the rule of law.
JUSTICE is grateful to the Nuffield Foundation for funding this research project and publication.
28 October 2009