The Parole Amendment Bill was passed by the NT Parliament yesterday.
The Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Natasha Fyles said Territorians want and deserve to live in safe and vibrant communities and this legislation will help to achieve that.
“This legislation is focused on reducing high rates of incarceration and recidivism,” she said.
“It allows for the COMMIT Program (Compliance Management or Incarceration in the Territory program) - to be extended to parolees, creating a smoother and more heavily supervised transition from prison to community.”
Minister Fyles said the vast majority of Territory prisoners will eventually be released back into the community.
“This program aims to stop those people reoffending by delivering quick, fair and predictable consequences for their actions,” she said.
Borrowed from a successful HOPE strategy in Hawaii, it delivered intense supervision for people on suspended sentences – including random drug testing and residential rehabilitation.
- Any breach of conditions leads to:
- · SWIFT action with an appearance in court
- · CERTAIN punishments as laid out in a predetermined matrix
- · FAIR, predictable and immediate sanction by the court
The COMMIT trial began in June last year as a sentencing option for adults on suspended sentences.
Minister Fyles said the swift, certain and fair philosophy of the COMMIT Program will now be expanded to include people who have been granted parole.
“The Chairperson of the Parole Board will now be able to use pre-determined sanctions to imprison people for non-compliance - without revoking or extending the parole order,” Ms Fyles said.
"It is clear that the current ‘all or nothing’ approach to non-compliance is not working, and these amendments will provide more options for the Chairperson and more support for individuals on parole.
“This program sets clear boundaries and encourages better decision making.
“Parolees learn to self-regulate in a community environment with intense scrutiny and clearly outlined punishments that are swiftly enforced.”
The program will be monitored closely and evaluated over the coming years.