I’ve done a number of pieces recently on the relatively little-known workings of a key agency within the Department of Justice.
The Parole Board reviews cases of prisoners who are serving long sentences. After doing eight years they are entitled to be considered for parole. They include people serving time for murder, manslaughter, armed robbery, sexual offences, drug trafficking and so on.
The board makes recommendations to the Minister for Justice, who, in the vast majority of cases, goes along with its recommendations.
But it’s the membership of the board and the appointment process to it that is worrying.
The Parole Board http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/Parole_Board has 12 members, with a chairperson and representatives of the Department of Justice, the Prison Service and the Parole Board. Then there are seven representatives of the community, as they are known. All are appointed by the Justice Minister, typically on recommendation of senior dept officials.
I reported on Aug 7 that a retired representative of the Prison Service on the board had been re-appointed by Justice Minister Alan Shatter as a representative of the community…
I followed that on Aug 20 with criticism of the Minister by a group representing families of homicide victims for failing to make anyone from a victims’ organisation one of the seven community reps. Advocates for Victims of Homicide www.advic.ie had even put forward two people for consideration. They weren’t even informed that they had not been chosen and found out second hand…