Recommendations on the operation of the parole system, proposed in a white paper launched in February, have been made by a task force set up by the Justice Ministry following the launch.

The Task Force, which has now presented its report, said that the long term objective should be to have a single Parole System.

It recommended that prisoners already sentenced should be given the option to choose between the parole system and remission while those sentenced after a defined date would be on the parole system.

Those sentenced for 12 months or less should continue to benefit from remission since they did not qualify for parole, it said.

The task force recommended that the parole eligibility date should be calculated at half the sentence. In this way, the offender would apply for parole six months prior to reaching the halfway point in his or her sentence.

It recommended that in cases where the offender was sentenced to 20 or more years, the judiciary should stipulate in the sentence the minimum number of years that the offender had to serve in prison before being considered for parole.

The task force recommended that foreign inmates at the Corradino Correctional Facilities should also be considered for early release.

One of the main reasons behind this recommendation was that such an incentive significantly aided in the management of these offenders who might already be experiencing significant problems adjusting to being imprisoned in a foreign land.

It should not be viewed that these inmates were getting a better deal in the sense that there was no supervision or conditions of release, it said.

Inmates hailing from EU and Schengen Zone states could be monitored and supervised in their own country of origin through mutual agreements of recognition of sentences and supervision orders, so they would be under the same conditions as Maltese nationals.

Inmates subject to deportation had to be deported as soon as they were released and conditions for re-entry would be stipulated by the parole board or else prevented indefinitely by being considered as a persona non grata.

The task force recommended that the parole board, through the clinical judgment of the Offender Assessment Board, should be the competent authority to establish the level of risk and dangerousness and an inmate’s possibility of parole.

Although in principle the task force believed that all inmates in CCF should be eligible for parole it was felt that this particular heterogeneous group of offenders should be excluded from eligibility.

The task force recommended that offenders with life imprisonment should be considered for parole. It should be at the discretion of the judiciary to determine the minimum number of years that the offender had to serve prior to being considered for parole, with the maximum number of years prior to eligibility set at 25 years.

Retaining the concept of life imprisonment with the option that if the prisoner satisfied the Parole Board then the offender might be eligible for parole after serving 25 years of the sentence.

Inmates currently serving a life sentence would be eligible for parole after serving at the most 25 years of their sentence.

The task force said it believed that offenders incarcerated for repeated occasions should still be eligible for parole but the conditions and requirements they would have to satisfy would be even more rigorous than those for other offenders.

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