Letter of the Day | No knee-jerk tightening of parole rules
THE EDITOR, Sir:
While the ongoing review of the parole system is a welcome one, the catalyst that triggered it should not dictate the direction of the process.
According to media reports, the review was initiated after the release of 'Richie Poo', whose real name is Kevin Tyndale, believed to be a former member of the Gideon Warriors gang based in August Town, St Andrew.
The concern of the security forces is that parole is being granted to "offenders whose release has been assessed as being contrary to the public interest, given the magnitude of their criminal antecedents". Presumably, Tyndale is considered to be one such offender.
It is indeed reasonable to be concerned when someone who has committed a heinous crime is released back into the society. If, however, the person has met the conditions of parole and has engaged in the rehabilitation and restorative justice processes concomitant with release, we should give them the benefit of the doubt and allow the parole process to take its course.
Impetus for review
There is a sense that the impetus for the review of current parole provisions will see more stringent conditions being imposed. This should not be the raison d'Ítre of the review.
Jamaica has operated a very successful parole system, which was held up as a model of best practice at the 12th conference of the Association of Caribbean Heads of Corrections and Prison Services) held in June and as such any review should be seeking to build on the gains of that success.
A move to make the system more stringent, because of fears about the release of a single inmate, would disadvantage numerous other inmates waiting to be paroled, and would also violate the principles of natural justice. Every parole, case is unique and has to be judged on its own merits.
Using a single case to judge all the others would rob us of the opportunity to fast-track the reintegration of offenders into the society and make our correctional facilities more humane through the reduction of the level of overcrowding in these institutions.
Executive Director, Stand Up for Jamaica