Sunday, September 23, 2012

A PaRole for the Court

The decision to release an offender on parole is always a difficult one.

This is particularly so with serious offences, and doubly so with high-profile ones. The media is often intensely interested, not least of all because it allows them to dredge up scandals in the past.

It's all to easy for the media to get a quote from the victim of victim's family, something inflammatory from some victim's group, rewrite a retrospective article, and there's five o'clock.

The release of Victor Chang's killer was always going to upset a lot of people.

For those of you who are too young (or, like me, too foreign) to know much about the events, this from Wikipedia:
At a public hearing earlier this week, the Parole Board ordered that Liew be released.

In deciding to release a person on parole, the Parole Board is bound by section 135 of the Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Act 1999:
Obviously it's a complicated matter.

In any event, the Parole board ordered that Liew should be released. He had been sentenced to a maximum of 26 years in gaol and had completed his 20 year non-parole period (ie minimum term he has to serve before he can be considered for parole) in July 2011.

Naturally enough, Greg Smith has indicated that the state was going to appeal:
From the SMH
Now, Regular Readers will know I'm usually keen to rant and rave about government's making decisions purely on populist grounds. And this is what Smith is doing - the above article doesn't actually provide any information from Smith explaining why parole is a bad idea or why the Parole Board was wrong.

But, in this case, I'm happy for Smith to take it to the Supreme Court. Obviously I'm not thrilled on the State's resources been wasted if it is in fact a wasted application - but I'm happy to see the state approach these things in a proper fashion.

It's quite different from those times where we frantically legislate to appease the Daily Terrograph. Of course, that is the motivation here, no doubt - but there's nothing wrong with going to the court and asking for a review. It's quite different to just changing the rules to the community's detriment.

What remains to be seen is whether a curmudgeonly Supreme Court judge raps the State over the knuckles for wasting the court's time, or whether there is in fact a valid basis for complaint.

Not that Smith is likely to care either way.

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