THE Victorian public’s faith in the parole board has been thrown into doubt after parolees have gone on to commit serious crimes, including murder, the board head says.
Adult Parole Board of Victoria chairperson Justice Elizabeth Curtain says the board’s work is always difficult and the successful completion of parole can’t be guaranteed.
“During the past reporting year, regrettably, very serious offences have been committed by parolees,” Justice Curtain says in the board’s 2012-13 annual report tabled in parliament yesterday.
“This has led to the public’s confidence in the workings of the board being called into question.”
This comes after a Ballarat woman was bashed to death by a man with 99 prior convictions including rape and false imprisonment.
Jason Dinsley was on parole when he killed Sharon Siermans, 29, with a cricket bat after he tried to rape her.
Once Dinsley pleaded guilty to murder in August, The Courier was able to break the story of Dinsley’s sordid past, which sparked uproar at system already highly criticised for parolee killings, including the murder of Jill Meagher.
In 2006, Dinsley held a knife to a 52-year-old woman’s throat, handcuffed, gagged, and raped her twice, choked her and finally robbed her.
On March 1, 2007, after Dinsley – who had 99 prior convictions – had been sentenced to a total effective sentence of nine years with a minimum of six, the Crown appealed the sentence, asking the Court of Appeal to find it was “manifestly inadequate”.
However, the court dismissed the appeal on the grounds that increasing Dinsley’s sentence would put him at risk of ‘’exposure to a form of double jeopardy’’.
Just months after he was released in 2012, Dinsley struck again, murdering Ms Siermans.
Former board chairperson Justice Simon Whelan says in the report that parole offers the ability to supervise or restrict the behaviour of prisoners.
He says the board must consider whether the risk of someone offending again will be higher if they are released without that supervision and support at the end of their full jail term.
Justice Whelan says it will be “unfortunate” if government reforms of the parole system weaken it.
He says parole board members have had “extraordinary” demands placed on them in recent times.
“Their task requires them to judge complexities and risks far beyond those reasonably to be expected of anyone,” he says.
“The issue of resources will obviously be a very significant one in the decision the government must now take.”
In the past year, the number of orders to release offenders on parole went up 11 per cent.
The number of cases where parole was denied rose 43 per cent.