Minister Flanagan publishes Parole Board Annual Report 2017
4 October 2018
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, has today published the Annual Report of the Parole Board for 2017. The Board's principal role is to advise the Minister on the management of those serving long term prison sentences (8 years or more and life sentences). The Board advises of the prisoner's progress to date, the degree to which the prisoner has engaged with the various therapeutic services available and makes a recommendation to the Minister on how best to proceed with the future administration of the sentence. All recommendations are considered in full by the Minister when making the final decision on sentence management.
Publishing the report, the Minister said: “I very much appreciate the work of the Parole Board. During 2017, it convened on 11 occasions and reviewed 114 cases, the highest number since its establishment. It also continued with its very valuable programme of presentations to prisoners throughout the service. I would like to acknowledge its work in helping to encourage all eligible prisoners to participate in the parole process and to thank the Chairman, Mr John Costello, and the members of the Board for the vital role they play in the rehabilitation of prisoners. Their work is much valued and appreciated.”
Of the 114 cases reviewed over the course of the year, the Minister accepted the Board’s recommendations in full in 102 cases and conditionally or in part in 3 cases. At the end of the year there were 9 decisions pending.
On 31 January 2017 there were 349 prisoners serving a life sentence in the State. The Board has expressed the belief that gradual re-integration of a life-sentenced prisoner back into the community is the best way of enabling them to re-settle successfully into society. To this end, the Board recommended to the Minister in 2017 that 21 life sentenced prisoners should be granted periods of temporary release on a phased basis over a period of 12 to 18 months or so, from day temporary release increasing to weekend temporary release leading to a gradual re-integration with families, where appropriate. The Minister agreed with all of the Board’s recommendations with regard to these 21 prisoners.
While a record number of cases were reviewed in 2017, the report highlights that the Board’s total caseload in 2017 was 346 - a combination of new cases and cases at second or subsequent review stage. In launching the report, the Minister made reference to the Parole Bill which, when enacted, will provide that all parole hearings must take place within 6 months of a prisoner’s scheduled review date: “I am eager for the Parole Bill, currently being considered by Dáil Éireann, to continue its passage through the Oireachtas as quickly as possible and for the Parole Board to be placed on a statutory footing."
The report is available on the Department's website at http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Parole_Board_Annual_Report_2017.pdf/Files/Parole_Board_Annual_Report_2017.pdf
Note for editors:
The Parole Board commenced its operations in 2001. The Board was established by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to review the cases of prisoners with long term sentences and to provide advice in relation to the administration of those sentences.
As a general principle, it is only the cases of prisoners who are serving determinate sentences of eight years or more, or life sentences, that are reviewed by the Parole Board. Each case must first be referred to the Board by the Minister.
In the normal course, the Board will review cases of prisoners sentenced to 8 years’ imprisonment or more, but less than 14 years, once half of that sentence has been served. In cases of prisoners sentenced to 14 years or more, or to a life sentence, the Board will review the case after 7 years have been served.