Dear Editor,

The above headline by Parole Board Chairman, Philip Tegavota, referred to the following section of the CSSI Act and Regulations (2007) as (a) Early release program, (b) Short term release and (c) the formation of a Parole Board. Here's an extract for readers info.


Early release programs

69. Early release programs may be established by regulation to allow prisoners to re-enter society by the performance of community work or paid employment, or enrolment in a course of education or instruction, or under approved supervision in the community prior to the expiration of their effective sentence.

Eligibility for early release

70. (1) In addition to any other requirements or pre-conditions imposed by regulations, prisoners shall meet the following minimum requirements to be eligible for early release under the following types of program -

(a) in relation to release under programs involving the performance of community work, supervision or paid employment -

(i) the prisoner shall have a low security classification; and
(ii) the prisoner has 12 months or less of his or her effective sentence to serve; or
(iii) a prisoner with an effective sentence of 2 years or less shall have served at least half of their effective sentence.

(b) in relation to undertaking a course of education, instruction or supervision -

(i) the prisoner shall have a low security classification;
(ii) the prisoner has 12 months or less of his or her effective sentence to serve; and
(iii) the prisoner has been accepted to undertake an appropriate course of education or instruction, or an approved supervisor has agreed to provide care and supervision.

(2) Schemes for the early release of prisoners may provide for the following matters by regulation -

(a) any criteria, entitlements and conditions for service of sentences on early release programs;
(b) the identification and approval of government, private, church and non-government agencies, companies and organisations to participate in early release programs;
(c) reporting or other requirements applying to agencies, companies and organisations participating in the programs, and the effective supervision of such schemes;
(d) the conditions and requirements to be followed by prisoners participating in early release programs;
(e) any other matter that may assist the rehabilitation of prisoners and facilitate their re-integration into the community; and
(f) the early release of prisoners on medical or humanitarian grounds.

Short term release

71. (1) Provision may be made by regulation for short term release of prisoners, from a correctional centre including -

(a) weekend release;
(b) work release;
(c) release to attend a course of instruction;
(d) release into the care and supervision of traditional elders or other community leaders;
(e) any other short term release which may assist in the rehabilitation of a prisoner or facilitate the prisoners return to their family, village or community.

(2) Commissioners orders may also make provision in relation to early release, provided that any such order is consistent with the regulation.

Parole Board

73. (1) The Minister may establish, by notice published in the Gazette a Parole Board.

(2) The Minister may appoint the following persons to the Parole Board -

(a) a retired Judge, or legal practitioner qualified for appointment as a Judge, as the Chairperson;
(b) a registered medical practitioner who has qualifications, knowledge or experience in treating persons with a mental illness;
(c) a person who has experience in areas relating to the supervision and support of prisoners after their discharge from lawful custody; and
(d) a person who has qualifications, knowledge or experience in the management or rehabilitation of offenders, including experience and knowledge of issues relevant to young prisoners, women prisoners or prisoners with a disability, if the Board is considering matters relating to such prisoners.

(3) A member of the Parole Board -

(a) may be appointed or re-appointed for a term not exceeding 3 years;
(b) may resign by giving not less than 30 days notice to the Minister; and
(c) is entitled to sitting allowances prescribed in the regulations.

(4) The Parole Board may determine its own procedures subject to any matters prescribed by regulation.

(5) The functions of the Parole Board are to make recommendations to the Minister relating to -

(a) the release on licence of any person serving a sentence, including a sentence for life, or to order the return to the correctional centre of any person who has been released on licence;
(b) the conditions to apply to any release on licence, including a variation or cancellation of any conditions;
(c) any other matter referred to it by the Minister relating to the release on licence or the return of persons previously released; and
(d) any other matter prescribed by regulation.

(6) Nothing in this Part prevents the Minister from exercising the power to release prisoners on licence as provided for by regulation or under any other Act or law.

Hope this would provide some background into the discussion.

Morris Kiukakea.