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Blog entry 8th June 2021

The parole board are yet again facing unfair accusations in response to their having recommended the release of a high profile life sentenced prisoner.

As usual MP's who wish to incite outrage are levelling all manner of accusations against the parole board. Such positions by these factions boost election ratings, sell newspapers and increase viewer ratings. However, the vitriol levelled at these parole board decisions cannot be justified.

Parole panels make these decisions based upon reasoned and careful consideration of the evidence placed before them. Most of which will not have been seen or considered by the crusading MP's and journalists who decry their decisions.

If a prisoner meets and fulfils the test for parole release then it is only right and lawful that they are given that opportunity to prove themselves. The parole board is not responsible for the sentence handed down by a judge. The sentencing judge is. Unless a whole life sentence has been given by the sentencing judge all prisoners have an expectation of release. Either at the expiration point of their life tariff or at some point thereafter.

It is wholly inappropriate for decisions of the parole board to be questioned and ridiculed by campaigning MP's and media outlets, who are no better than 'finger pointers' at the Salem witch trials. The whole point of the Parole Board is to make a professional, reasoned and impassionate decision based upon the evidence before them and the legal requirements reflective to the case at hand.

As with trials the decision or verdict will not always be the right one and mistakes will happen. Nothing in life can be perfect. However, that does not mean that the parole board have failed. It means that the judge who handed down the sentence should be scrutinised. It is not the parole boards remit to consider and account for a prisoner who has been wrongly convicted. Just as it isn't their remit to amend for a failure in the original sentence handed down.

Their only remit is to consider the arguments both for and against release based solely in the evidence before them. Both MP's and journalists have no part to play in how that decision turns out. Any attempt to interfere in these decisions undermines the judicial independence and process.