Category Archives: Parole
Newly released prisoners face being banned from moving around the country when they leave jail to ensure they attend rehabilitation programmes, the Justice Secretary told MPs today.
Chris Grayling told the House of Commons Justice Committee that he did not want offenders to lose the support of probation services if they “travel 200 miles up the road for no particular reason”.
Mr Grayling was giving evidence on his far-reaching overhaul of rehabilitation services, which will see services tendered out to private firms and charities who will be partially rewarded on a payment by results basis.
The Justice Secretary said he wanted to make sure offenders were held in prisons in the same area in to which they would be released.
He said: “Actually I want to put in place some tougher conditionality around just moving house and moving round the country.
“What I don’t want is for you to be released into the care of a local organisation and then be able to travel 200 miles up the road for no particular reason and we lose the continuity of support post-prison.”
Mr Grayling said he would have to create geographic areas which were aligned with police force areas, work programmes and the location of prisons.
He added: “I’ve got all these bits of a jigsaw around which we’ve got to find the best optimum geographic spread.”
Mark Leech, editor of Converse the national newspaper for prisoners in England and Wales said he understood the desire to ensure people stayed in one place to complete their offending behaviour work, but feared that it could massively backfire.
Mr Leech said: “The rhetoric is all very well, but you still have to confront reality.
“What are you going to do when an offender as a result of personal pressures, family illness, bereavement or simply wishing to escape from an area riddled with drugs simply up sticks and moves anyway?
“If you really want to deliver offending behaviour courses to offenders when they are all in one area, when they cannot go somewhere else, then the solution is blindingly obvious – deliver these courses when they are in custody.”
Under Mr Grayling’s proposals, prisoners serving sentences of less than 12 months will also be forced to undertake a period of rehabilitation upon release for the first time.
The Justice Secretary previously said the overhaul was necessary as reoffending had been “too high for too long”.
But the National Association of Probation Officers (Napo) and Unison hit out at the proposed reforms, warning they are a threat to public safety.
The consultation closed on Friday and Mr Grayling told the committee that he expects to report back in May.
Committee member and Plaid Cymru MP Elfyn Llwyd told Mr Grayling that private firms were already attempting to poach public sector staff for potential future contracts.
He said: “Is there not an irony in the fact that several senior probation officers whom I know are being approached by potential private providers and being offered high salaries in order to join them? It’s a rather ghastly merry-go-round, isn’t it?”
Mr Grayling replied: “I would not for a moment say that we don’t have good professionals in the Probation Service doing a good job.
“But the fact that you have got really good individuals doing a really good job and you’ve got people who have got good ideas doesn’t necessarily mean the system always releases them to do that.”
He added: “I think there’s really good expertise in the Probation Service, there’s really good expertise in the voluntary sector and there’s really good expertise in the private sector and if we can leverage the best of all of them we can bring down the reoffending rates.”
Elsewhere in the hearing, he suggested that Probation Service providers, including charities, could consider forming “mini-housing associations” to improve reoffending rates.
He said areas like housing were “extremely important because having somewhere stable to live is a factor in determining whether someone reoffends or not”.
He went on: “Given the fact these people are on housing benefit when they come out of prison, I would personally be doing deals with landlords or even investing in hostels so when I was supervising offenders I actually had somewhere to live.”
A fun-fair worker who raped a young teenager after forcing her to drink alcohol won damages today after a European court ruled his human rights had been breached.
Samuel Betteridge, 58, from Mablethorpe, was jailed after he pleaded guilty to two counts of rape and one of attempted rape at Lincoln Crown Court in 2005.
A 13-month delay between the end of Betteridge’s minimum term and his first parole hearing was a breach of his right to a speedy hearing, the European Court of Human Rights found.
The Strasbourg court ordered the British Government to pay Betteridge 750 euros (£640) in damages and 2,000 euros (£1,710) for his lawyers’ costs.
A convicted terrorist who has served 26 years in prison for trying to blow up an Israeli airliner lost his latest High Court bid for parole today.
Lawyers for Nezar Hindawi, 57, argued that he no longer poses a security threat anywhere in the world and could safely be released on licence.
Mr Justice Blake, sitting in London, expressed concerns about the case, but he ruled that a Parole Board decision that the Jordanian citizen of Palestinian origin must remain behind bars was both “rational and lawful on the information before it”.
Hindawi, who faces deportation to Jordan when he is eventually freed, is serving a 45-year jail sentence for attempting to plant a bomb on an El Al passenger plane in 1986.
He hid the bomb in his pregnant fiancee’s hand luggage without her knowledge on a flight from London Heathrow to Tel Aviv.
It could have killed 375 people but was found by security staff.
The judge said: “This was a crime of great notoriety committed for political purposes.”
The Parole Board panel rejected Hindawi’s latest bid for early release in December last year.
A previous panel recommended in 2009 that he no longer posed a threat to the public and it was safe to grant him parole, but the then home secretary Jack Straw vetoed the recommendation.
Last year the High Court ruled Mr Straw’s decision unlawful and the case was reconsidered.
But the latest panel opposed parole even though it found Hindawi did not pose a risk in the UK.
Its decision was based on concerns that Hindawi, on being returned to Jordan under an extradition order already in place, might make speeches or give interviews there encouraging or inciting terrorism.
Tim Owen QC, appearing for Hindawi, who is entitled to automatic release in 2016, argued the decision was both “irrational and grossly unfair”.
Giving his ruling, the judge expressed concern that the Jordanian authorities had not been asked for their view on the risk posed by Hindawi and their attitude to his return.
But he added: “Notwithstanding my concerns that relevant information was not before the board, and might have been, the panel’s overall conclusions were rational and lawful on the information before it.
“Accordingly, this application fails.”
The judge said he might have set the panel’s decision aside if it had been “final” or binding on any future assessment of Hindawi’s case.
But a new hearing before a fresh panel was “imminent” and would be free to explore the responses of the Jordanian authorities before deciding whether or not Hindawi was entitled to parole.
John Lennon’s killer has been denied release from prison in his seventh appearance before a parole board.
Mark Chapman, 57, was denied parole after a hearing yesterday, the New York Department of Corrections said.
Chapman shot Lennon in December 1980 outside the Manhattan apartment building where the former Beatle lived.
He was sentenced in 1981 to 20 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.
Chapman was transferred in May from the Attica Correctional Facility in western New York to the nearby Wende Correctional Facility. Both are maximum security. The prison system does not disclose why inmates are transferred.
CHARLES MANSON 2012 CHARLES MANSON 1978
California prison officials have released a photo of mass murderer Charles Manson, showing him at 77 as a greying, bearded, shaggy-haired old man with a sad expression.
The photo (above left) was released in advance of Manson’s parole hearing next Wednesday – 11th April 2012.
Manson has told authorities he does not plan to attend the hearing, but they say he could change his mind at the last minute.
He has not appeared at a parole hearing since 1997.
The photo shows Manson with a craggy face and, on his forehead, the swastika he carved there during his 1970 trial.
It is a stark change from a previous photo showing him with a shaved head.
Manson has not been a model prisoner, having been found with smuggled mobile phones and a handmade weapon in his cell.