Parole Essay

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WHY HAS PAROLE BECOME SO CONTROVERSIAL IN NEW ZEALAND? Issues relating to parole in New Zealand have been the subject of scrutiny in recent years and have become increasingly of national concern. News services provide daily headlines that almost always include stories about paroled criminals committing new crimes, loudly implying fallacies in the criminal justice system that allow these people to go free. Making reference to pertinent high profile parole cases and unravelling key debates, this essay analyses the operation of parole in New Zealand and investigates why it has become such a pressing issue on New Zealand’s agenda. The first part begins by defining the term ‘parole’, and provides a brief historical overview of the concept. In the second part, the nature of the parole system and the rationales for providing this regime of early, supervised release are outlined. The third part then considers how parole has functioned under the Parole Act and its amendments and sets out the critical responses to parole; before finally concluding that in spite of the debate and criticism that parole generates, the 37-member panel is an effective and long-standing tool that attempts to give every offender a fair break to reintegrate into the community, and as such, should certainly be retained in New Zealand’s criminal justice system. Before going on to consider what the meaning of ‘parole’ is, the historical trajectory of the concept needs to be explored. Many criminologists believe that the old practice of ‘penal transportation’ was the forerunner of parole (O'Conner, 2013). This process consisted of sending convicted criminals to another penal colony and putting them under surveillance; giving them marks for good and bad behaviour, and letting the good ones who had served part of their time earn ‘tickets of leave’ to go back to the mother country (O'Conner,

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