IPRT welcomed the introduction by Deputy Jim O’Callaghan of the Private Member’s Bill, the Parole Bill 2016 as an opportunity to achieve clarity in law and practice on parole. However, IPRT recommends that a number of the provisions of the Bill are amended or strengthened.
IPRT has published a number of papers and submissions outlining the principles that should underpin reform of the parole system in Ireland. In our most recent submission on the Bill in June 2019, IPRT assesses the Parole Bill 2016 (as amended) against those key principles, and makes priority recommendations relating to each. These key principles include:
- The Parole Board should be granted full independence and placed on a statutory footing.
- The Parole Board must be given the power to make binding decisions on prisoner releases.
- Parole Board appointments must be on merit and expertise.
- Restrictions on certain categories of long-term prisoners from consideration for parole should be removed.
- The criteria for decision-making on prisoner release should be enshrined in legislation.
- Clear protocols should be established around the presentation of views on a prisoner’s suitability for release to the Parole Board, including those of An Garda Síochána.
- Prisoners should be entitled to legal representation in proceedings before the Parole Board, particularly those involving oral hearings.
- Conditions attached to release should be reasonable and proportionate.
- The Parole Board must be adequately resourced in terms of funding and staffing, including the provision of appropriate and necessary initial and refresher training, such as interview techniques.
For the Parole Bill 2016 to achieve its goals of clarity, transparency and fairness, the Bill should be strengthened in line with IPRT's recommendations. To see the history of the Parole Bill 2016, visit the Oireachtas website here.
To read our June 2019 submission on 'Parole Reform and the Parole Bill 2016' click here.
For a more discursive document on IPRT's position on the Parole Bill 2016, see our February 2018 submission here.
For even more on our work on parole reform, visit iprt.ie/parole