25 November, 2015
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Ms. Frances Fitzgerald, T.D. today published the Annual Report of the Parole Board for 2014.
In publishing the report, the Minister said "Once again I would like to thank the Chairman, Mr John Costello and the members of the Board for their report. The Parole Board plays a vital role which is much valued and appreciated. In particular, I would like to acknowledge the work of the Board in helping to encourage all eligible prisoners to participate in the parole process."
The Board's principal function is to advise the Minister on the administration of long term prison sentences in respect of prisoners who are serving sentences greater than seven years. The Board, by way of recommendation to the Minister, advises of the prisoner's progress to date, the degree to which the prisoner has engaged with the various therapeutic services and how best to proceed with the future administration of the sentence. All recommendations are considered in full when making the final decision on sentence management.
As highlighted in their report, the total caseload of the Board has increased from 329 in 2013 to 339 in 2014 - a combination of new cases and cases at second or subsequent review stage. The Board report that they reviewed 91 cases in 2014, with 86 recommendations made to the Minister. The majority of those recommendations were accepted in full by the Minister.
In an effort to encourage more prisoners to participate in the Parole process the Board has met with groups of prisoners to explain the parole process. During 2015, the Board intends to continue with its programme of presentations to prisoners throughout the remaining prisons. It is also proposed to make these presentations on an on-going basis.
Minister Fitzgerald said "On 17 September 2014, I published the Final Report of the Penal Policy Review Group. The report presents a penal policy which aims to make Ireland a safer and fairer place. I submitted the report to Government on 4 November, 2014. Some of the report’s recommendations can be implemented in the short to medium term, while others will require a more long term approach. As an important initial step, the Government agreed, in principle, to proceed immediately with the implementation of a number of key recommendations including bringing forward legislative proposals to establish the Parole Board on an independent statutory basis.
"The report envisages progress on implementation of the recommendations published every six months. In that regard I have established a Penal Policy Implementation Oversight Group to oversee implementation of the Review Group recommendations. The Group is chaired by Dr. Mary Rogan, Head of Law and Assistant Head of the School of Languages, Law and Social Sciences at Dublin Institute of Technology. The group comprises senior representation from my Department, the Irish Prison Service and the Probation Service.
"I look forward to receiving the group’s first progress report later this month.”
The report is available on the Department's website at http://justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/Parole_Board_Annual_Report_2014