In R v Eru-Guthrie  QDC 174, His Honour, Judge Cash QC, DCJ was asked to re-open the sentence proceedings where Mr Eru-Gutherie’s parole application faced significant delay. Ultimately, His Honour re-opened the proceedings and reduced the sentence that was imposed.
On 13 April 2021, Mr Eru-Gutherie, entered a guilty plea to a single offence of unlawfully doing grievous bodily harm. He was sentenced to a term of four years and parole eligibility date 1 of 1 December 2021 was fixed (a bottom of 16 months).
His Honour intended to sentence the Applicant to four years and parole eligibility after 14 months. The matter was re-opened and parole eligibility set at 1 October 2021.
On 13 May 2021 the applicant applied for the sentence to be reopened again pursuant to section 188 of the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (Qld) (‘PSA’). The re-opening was on the basis that delays by the Parole Board in deciding applications for parole meant that, there was no prospect his parole application would be decided around 1 October 2021.
Evidence relied upon:
The Applicant produced an email from the Director of Legal Services of the Parole Board told the applicant’s lawyers that A prisoner lodging a Parole application [on 20 April 2021] is likely to have it decided in December 2021.
…correspondence from the Parole Board stated that at the end of May 2021 there were 4,399 ‘outstanding files’ which included 2,084 applications for parole. It was said that a prisoner who made an application on 21 June 2021 would not be likely to have it decided before February 2022.Parole Board Correspondence to Applicants Solicitors
His Honour, took the lengthy delay into account and re-sentenced the Applicant to imprisonment for three years, to commence on 13 April 2021, and the date for the applicant’s release on parole is fixed as 1 October 2021.
The Court reduced the Head Sentence of four (4) to three (3) years to enable the Court to impose a Fixed Parole Release Date and thereby bypass a consideration of the matter by the Parole Board.
In 2016 the Queensland Government sought a review into the effectiveness of the parole process, which includes Queensland’s parole boards and Queensland Corrective Services’ supervision of offenders on parole, is fundamental to the integrity of the corrective services system.
The only purpose of parole is to reintegrate a prisoner into the community before the end of a prison sentence to decrease the chance that the prisoner will ever reoffend. Its only rationale is to keep the community safe from crime. If it were safer, in terms of likely reoffending, for prisoners to serve the whole sentence in prison, then there would be no parole. It must be remembered also that parole is just a matter of timing; except for those who are sentenced to life imprisonment, every prisoner will have to be released eventually.Justice Walter Sofronoff QC, Queensland Parole System Review, final report November 2016
Given the cost of housing a prisoner is $285.67 per day, the current delay in sitting on these decisions is substantial and has a significant impact upon the ability of corrective services to rehabilitate offenders.
There is an extreme need to address the current breakdown in the parole system.
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