21st June 2016
On 15th June 2016, Deputy Jim O'Callaghan TD introduced a draft Private Member's Bill entitled ‘Parole Bill 2016’ before the Dáil. The main purpose of this Bill is to place the Parole Board on a statutory footing.
The establishment of the Parole Board on a statutory basis was a key recommendation of the cross-agency Department of Justice and Equality Strategic Review of Penal Policy (Rec. 31, 2014), and the recommendation was subsequently accepted by then Minister for Justice and Equality, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald.
Reforming the Parole Board by placing it on a statutory basis, fully independent of political control, governed by clear and fair decision-making protocols, has long been a key objective of IPRT. We welcome the proposed introduction of a new transparent process of granting parole, which will be in the best interests of both prisoners and the general public.
Many of the recommendations included in previous IPRT policy documents on parole reform are reflected in the draft Parole Bill 2016, including: that prisoners should be entitled to legal representation before the Parole Board; that full details of the Board’s decision to grant or refuse parole is provided to prisoners; and that members of psychiatry and psychology professions should be on the Board. IPRT Executive Director Deirdre Malone told Irish Legal News that “scrutiny of the passage of the Bill will be essential to ensure that [the] key value of independence is promoted and preserved.”
Update: The Joint Committee on Justice and Equality scrutinised the Parole Bill 2016 on 15th February 2017.
Further reporting of the Parole Bill 2016 can be read here: