Parole Board annual report :Parole Board of the Northern Territory
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Parole Board of the Northern Territory
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ANNUAL REPORT 2014 6 PAROLE BOARD OF THE NORTHERN TERRITORY | ANNUAL REPORT 2014 PAROLE BOARD OF THE NORTHERN TERRITORY | ANNUAL REPORT 2014 7 PROFILE The Parole Board of the Northern Territory (the Board) is an independent statutory body established under section 3A of the Parole Act. The Board consists of 18 members who act independently of political and bureaucratic influence to make decisions about the parole of prisoners in the best interests of the community as a whole, including the offender and the victim. Parole is an important element of the criminal justice system as it allows prisoners to serve the balance of their sentence of imprisonment in the community, under supervision and on very strict conditions. The purpose of parole is to release prisoners into the community in a manner that provides support and increases their chances of becoming members of the community who are free of a criminal lifestyle. The Board may: i. grant a prisoner release on parole; ii. deny a prisoner release on parole; iii. defer consideration of a prisoners application for parole until a later date; iv. amend or vary a parole order; or v. revoke a parole order. The Board makes decisions in relation to both adult and youth offenders and their jurisdiction extends to prisoners serving a sentence of life imprisonment for the crime of murder. In addition to the standard conditions of parole, the Board has the power to impose additional conditions which it believes are necessary to support the offender and prevent re-offending. It may also give directions to the Chairperson for guidance about revocation of parole for either: a breach of a condition of parole; or offending committed by the parolee while on parole. Decisions of the Parole Board by their very nature have the capacity to impact not only on individuals but the broader community. Members of the Parole Board are aware of the trust that is placed in them and take their responsibilities seriously. Parole Board members are supported to fulfil their responsibilities by operational and administrative staff within the Department of Correctional Services. Parole Board Members Section 3B of the Parole Act stipulates that the Board must have 18 members who are to be: a) the Chief Justice or another Judge of the Supreme Court nominated by the Chief Justice; and b) the Commissioner of Correctional Services; and c) 2 police officers nominated by the Commissioner of Police; and d) 2 persons, each of whom is i. a medical practitioner; or ii. a person registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law to practise in the psychology profession (other than as a student); and e) 2 persons, each of whom represents the interests of victims of crime; and f) 10 persons who reflect, as closely as possible, the composition of the community at large and include women and Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders. Members described in subparagraphs (d), (e) and (f) above are appointed by the Administrator for three year terms, are eligible for reappointment, and may resign their membership in writing to the Minister. In the absence of a member appointed under subsections (d), (e) or (f), the Minister may appoint a person to act as a member of the Board. In 2014, no members were appointed to act in positions on the Board. The Chairperson of the Board: has responsibility for resolving questions of law; and a casting vote where votes are equal on questions to be determined by a majority of votes. In 2014 the Board was chaired by Justice Stephen Southwood. Justice Judith Kelly acted in the place of Justice Southwood on two occasions. 2014 saw a number of new members joining the Board following legislative changes to the Parole Act to expand the membership from 10 to 18 members. Seven new members were appointed in March 2014 under the following sections: 3B(1)(d) Kate Crawley 3B(1)(e) Susan Crane 3B(1)(f) Eric Houget-Poole, Jane Lloyd, John Brears, Harold Howard and Mark Coffey. Superintendent Andrew Pusterla commenced in January 2014 to replace Superintendent Don Fry as the police representative. Superintendent Robert Jordan and Superintendent Brett Prowse each acted in the place of the Police representative on one occasion. Mr Phil Brown acted in the place of Ken Middlebrook as the Commissioner on one occasion.