Parole comes from the French “to speak”. At Duncan Lewis giving people a voice is of paramount importance. Nowhere is our voice louder than when we are trying to help prisoners regain their freedom by representing them at their parole reviews.
Parole hearings take place when a prisoner is approaching his tariff expiry date or after his tariff has expired. The prisoner’s application will either be for release or for a transfer to an open prison.
On the day of the hearing, the Parole Board travel to the prison where the prisoner is residing. Hearings can feel very informal as parties sit around a table and there is no standing up or going to witness boxes. However there are strict rules which govern proceedings and which have to be observed.
The main focus of a parole review is to assess risk and whether that risk is low enough to be managed on licence in the community or in an open prison. Risk is assessed by hearing evidence from probation and the prisoner himself and by reading a dossier of reports prepared by the prison. Our role as solicitors at that hearing is to promote the client’s application and challenge witnesses who may not be supportive of release or a progressive move.
No indication of the outcome is given at the hearing itself. Instead the Parole Board have 14 days in which to communicate their written decision with full reasons. If they recommend open conditions, that recommendation has to be endorsed by the Secretary of State before it becomes a final decision. If they are recommending release then that decision is final and the Secretary of State cannot oppose it.
To speak to one of our experienced lawyers please call on 0207 923 4020 or visit us at: www.duncanlewis.com. We look forward to hearing from you.