Yesterday our Justice Minister announced that she will be making parole eligibility tougher. Inmates will now have to acknowledge guilt to qualify for parole. Her press release said as follows:
"Offenders who refuse to accept their guilt, or make little effort at rehabilitation, will have fewer parole hearings, Justice Minister Judith Collins has announced.
The other thing, shouldn't it be someone's right to say, "I am innocent, you might take away my reputation and my freedom, but I tell you I am innocent."The only rational reason to further punish someone for taking that stand by denying them parole is if that denial is in itself linked to risk of further reoffending while on parole.
Section 7 of our Parole Act, gets the balance right:
7 Guiding principlesIn other words if it is not related to risk, then there should be no problem with maintaining one's innocence. Even our Court of Appeal recognises that denial is not of itself indicative of risk. In R v Peta  NZCA 28 they said:
Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion
Lastly, isn't it richly ironic that a Government that beats the "lawnorder" drum and wants to be seen as being tough on criminals by toughening up parole eligibility, should rely for its majority to enact this legislation upon a man who police believe has broken the law regarding campaign donations, yet whom they can't prosecute as they are out of time? Surely for this Government to have any integrity they should lead by example first?