Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of National Security, Senator the Hon. Matthew Samuda, is assuring that inmates in correctional facilities who are eligible for parole will be given a fair hearing to determine the arrangements and conditions for their release.
“The Parole Board has committed to meeting as often as is necessary, as soon as [case] files are prepared, to ensure that persons are given a fair hearing to determine if they can be released so they are not held within our facilities any longer than they need to be,” he said.
Parole is the authorisation granted to inmates to leave the facilities in which they are serving time and spend the remainder of their sentence in the open society.
The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) Parole Board is responsible for reviewing prisoners’ applications for parole, to determine whether they can be safely released.
Mr. Samuda was speaking during a ceremony to officially commission into service two broiler units at the Tamarind Farm Adult Correctional Centre in St. Catherine, on Thursday (October 22).
He said the Government is “well aware” of the calls that have been made for incarcerated persons, particularly those deemed eligible for parole, to be released because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Minister pointed out, however, that early release at a widescale level is not the policy of the Government.
“We, however, do not want to house inmates [who] should not be in our facilities or should not be in the facilities as long as they are because of bureaucratic processes that move slowly,” he said.
While acknowledging that this should happen with or without the presence of COVID-19, Mr. Samuda emphasised that it’s the pandemic’s emergence that “puts the importance of this taking place at a high”.
Parole, which forms part of the correctional services’ rehabilitation process, enables inmates to be released into the community for readjustment with the guidance of a Probation Officer.
To become eligible, the individual should be serving a sentence of more than 12 months. This is after serving one third of such sentence or 12 months (whichever is greater).
Once eligible, the inmate may make a written application to the Parole Board for consideration.
During the parole period, a Parole Officer assists the parolee with community resettlement.