A low risk?

March 8th, 2010 at 10:49 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A stabbing victim is leaving the country and fears for his life because his attacker is about to be released from prison without having done any rehabilitation programme.

The Department has classified his attacker as low risk and will release him next month, even though the Board views the man as a risk to the community.

If I was the victim, I’d also be leaving the country – well that or making sure I had ready access to a firearm (yes I know that is illegal).

In July 2006, Frame, who is now in his 50s, sliced Mr McArtney’s face, cutting his mouth and tongue with a 15cm blade in what was described as an unprovoked and irrational attack.

Mr McArtney, a semi-retired IT consultant, says the corrections system is flawed because Frame has had no rehabilitation treatment, despite pleas from the Parole Board that without it he is a threat to the community.

Documents show the Parole Board and the Corrections Department had a conflicting view over the risk Frame poses.

The board repeatedly refused to release him because he had not done any rehabilitation programmes, and was thus a risk to the community.

But Corrections considered him a “maintenance” low-risk prisoner and not eligible for any programmes.

I am surprised the view of the Corrections Department trumps the view of the Parole Board.

Frame’s sentencing notes state he has a “a long and fairly well-documented history of depression and drug and alcohol abuse”, which was at the root of his offending.

Last October, the Parole Board report said: “[Since his last appearance in April] no steps had been taken to address his offending and none were likely to be taken. …

The Parole Board said in its November 2007 report that for Frame to get into a programme, his security classification would need to be readjusted.

It was not.

Mr McArtney is flabbergasted the department ignored the board’s pleas.

“It seems to me the Parole Board can say what they like and the department doesn’t pay any attention.”

Prison Services assistant regional manager Bronwyn Donaldson said Parole Board recommendations had been acted on where appropriate.

Where appropriate, means if we agree.

It has also been revealed that Frame had previously been charged with murder, in 1975 when he was 16. He was subsequently acquitted.

I would be most interested in the grounds on which he was acquitted.

He was convicted in 1990 for possession of a knife and in 1997 for aggravated burglary and possession of an offensive weapon.

The latter convictions relate to an incident, described as a “damage spree”, through the Raumati Village Shopping Centre. Afterwards he broke into a house armed with a knife, and then assaulted a member of the public who came to investigate.

And then the stabbing also. And this is what Corrections is calling low risk?

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17 Responses to “A low risk?”

  1. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    well that or making sure I had ready access to a firearm (yes I know that is illegal).

    Meh… Take your pick: Get sliced up or shoot the prick and elect a trial by jury.

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  2. Brian Smaller (4,026 comments) says:

    And then the stabbing also. And this is what Corrections is calling low risk?

    Probably doesn’t live in the same suburb as the Corrections Dept pen-pushers who said he was low risk.

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  3. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    Somehow, the people who sign off on these releases have to be made liable for the actions of the dangerous people they wrongfully allow on to the streets.

    And why release them anyway?

    In spite of the whining of self interested liberals and the like who will claim the huge costs of rehabilitation are justified, there’s actually no better and cheaper solution to crime than keeping criminals in jail for a long long time.

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  4. Matt Long (90 comments) says:

    Another reason why people don’t respect police like we used to; the perception that they consider their job to be protecting offenders from the victim of crime.

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  5. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    Matt Long, I fail to see what this has to do with the police at all- they have done their job, what more can they do?

    More on topic: As a lawyer it is always hard trying to work with corrections to get help for your client. They don’t take kindly to our attempts at intervention/assistance once the sentencing/appeals process is over. Even when the client is up for parole, they usually make very little information available to the lawyer who (if the parole board is lucky) will be representing the prisoner.

    I say if the parole board is lucky because the LSA doesn’t see the representation of prisoners at parole hearings as being of much necessity unless they are a high risk prisoner. That is silly as the prisoner is often unable to properly advocate for themselves, often making little positive impact with the board. We especially have no way of assisting the prisoner in the classification process. Nor does the Parole Board.

    Moreover, even when they are represented and a course of action is advocated for, then we run into the roadblock that is Corrections. They have had so many arguments with suppliers of rehab courses that many people in the last few years have been released before they were actually eligible (under Corrections criteria) for the courses they often desperately need. Much of this has arguments over funding, as some providers have refused to take prisoners until there is guaranteed funding- something about Corrections being a bad debtor to many times. As that guaranteed funding is often not until the last quarter of the sentence, when the prisoner is released, usually at one half or two thirds (forget about the one third rule, that covers eligibility rather than actual release) they are still ineligible for the course/s.

    In the normal way of things, the lawyer isn’t told this until either just before the parole hearing or during it!

    So even if the Parole Board thinks that a prisoner needs to do a course, they cannot force Corrections to do anything about it, and as the lawyers aren’t even told that much then we can’t start judicial review proceedings (which are the only real way to get the decision reviewed). Of course, taking a judicial review, on legal aid, to get our client on a much needed course would probably be unpopular with the public anyway.

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  6. Graeme Edgeler (3,290 comments) says:

    The refusal/inability of corrections to offer necessary rehabilitation is a pretty big problem in a lot of cases.

    The standard practice for anyone long-term is that if they are to be offered rehabilitation, it doesn’t start until after the first parole hearing if the parole board requests it (and are listened to). Someone could be in prison for 10 years+ before Corrections actually starts looking at ensuring they won’t repeat.

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  7. Matt Long (90 comments) says:

    ” DPF If I was the victim, I’d also be leaving the country – well that or making sure I had ready access to a firearm (yes I know that is illegal).” That’s what the police have to do with the topic.

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  8. Jack5 (5,157 comments) says:

    If DPF’s interpretation is correct, that law-abiding citizens cannot legally own firearms for self-defence, that is appalling. Criminals and as yet unconvicted thugs routinely carry knives and use these, and softball bats and bottles, on innocent people. In groups, they frequently attack citizens out and about on their own.

    We’ve had decades of the liberal MSM sneering about American firearm ownership laws. However, it’s starting to look as though the Americans are right.

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  9. vintage74 (2 comments) says:

    I think some of this comment is terribly unfair.

    Corrections have a thorough process for assessing the future risk of reoffending of an offender and it is based on their criminal history and other factors. Most importantly it’s based on FACTS – not knee jerk instinct in reaction to a media article.

    They also do an incredible job with limited resources when it comes to rehabilitation programmes. Would you rather they reacted to this article and put Frame on a programme at the expense of an offender who is categorised as a higher risk of reoffending? Limited resources mean an organisation has to work within priorities – the higher risk prisoners get the priority. Just because we think this offender has done awful things doesn’t mean he’s done the MOST awful things that Corrections have to deal with.

    Someone said above “And why release them anyway?”… the answer is simple. The law says. This offender was probably only sentenced for a specific period of time. Once he has served that he has to be released.

    I understand the Parole Board can only make recommendations to Corrections – and Corrections comply when they can, in the midst of juggling priorities, managing offender behaviour (can’t make an offender do a course they refuse to do) and a whole host of things.

    I’m sure there’s a whole story in the background here that the journalist hasn’t reported… but then… never let the truth get in the way of a good story right?

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  10. Nigel Kearney (1,049 comments) says:

    You can legally own a firearm and can also legally use it for self-defence provided that use is reasonable. But you can’t keep it loaded which makes defensive use inconvenient to say the least. And you can’t take it with you when you go out. The law is the fault of politicians, but police and the courts also deserve a lot of the blame for going ahead with prosecutions of people whose defensive use of a firearm was entirely reasonable.

    If the victim had a loaded shotgun handy last time, then he wouldn’t need to leave the country now. And all of us would be safe from this offender.

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  11. lyndon (325 comments) says:

    I don’t know what programmes this guy could have gone on, but I believe many only produce meaningful results with ‘high risk’ (in their terms) offenders. In other cases you may as well/might even be better off not bothering.

    The risk classification system (the one I’m thinking of) is more statistically robust than any given chump’s opinion. You take all the actual factors and the average outcomes they have actually had and use that to calculate a risk of reoffending.

    This by way of background rather than outright disagreement.

    So what do we think about the idea of removing legal aid for appearances before the parole board?

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  12. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    If i was the victim I’d want to know where and when he was getting out.

    Also wind direction and speed.

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  13. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    Graeme Edgeler notes:

    The refusal/inability of corrections to offer necessary rehabilitation is a pretty big problem in a lot of cases.

    And it’s not confined to New Zealand. I am working with prisoners whom Corrections have assessed as needing, say, three courses, only two of which it provides in the prison in which they’re held. Yet when a transfer to a prison that does run the third course is suggested, the ennui with which it’s greeted is overwhelming… “What, you expect us to do our jobs?!”.

    I’m not talking prison officers here – they see the results of the bungled administration of prisons coming back through the entrance every day – but the administration.

    I know no one gives a damn about the genuinely remorseful offender who wants to turn his or her life around, but as well as the obvious public danger posed by lack of access to rehabilitation in prison, why should someone who’s accepted they’ve done wrong and is keen to learn different ways of behaving upon release have their parole denined – and thus serve as long a term as the unrepentant offender in the next cell – because Corrections can’t get it’s act together?

    Redbaiter suggests:

    Somehow, the people who sign off on these releases have to be made liable for the actions of the dangerous people they wrongfully allow on to the streets.

    I agree. It’s problematic, but I don’t see why any official acting on behalf of the state is immune from civil suit for a start. Sure there needs to be some protection, but if a police officer, corrections official or any other puiblic servant is found to have acted with gross incompetence, malice, or disregard for public safety why is it they are effectively indemnified by the taxpayer, in that the affected party can only sue the state?

    And on a related topic, talking of public safety, what does “Crusher” Collins think she’ll gain (other than a paltry $2.4 million) by axing funding to Prisoners Aid and Rehabilitation, the only group which provides support to newly released prisoners to help minimise the risk of any reoffending? It’s been working in this area since 1959… does Collins think she’s smarter than every Minister since that time?

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  14. GPT1 (2,123 comments) says:

    There tends to be a complete lack of resources for rehab type programmes. Basically prison is a bit of time out for society. The parole board goes on and on about doing programmes but even motivated prisoners struggle to get on them. In one area were motivation is often high (sex offending) I have heard that prisoners are not eligible until the last third of their sentence – so even if desperate to get some help they have to wait. And then, of course, the parole board says ‘you haven’t done the course so you remain a risk’. Murphy’s law.

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  15. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    Bet corrections just want this guy out of their patch. I read old hand troublemaking shit bag in the subtext. Murray be be right, wind speed, direction and humidity…

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  16. lyndon (325 comments) says:

    GPT1 – Yeah, I don’t know if anyone’s listening but axing PARS would be the simplest way to increase reoffending I can think of.

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  17. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    Rex, GPT and Lyndon, I have to agree with all of you re PARS. Extreme shortsightedness on the part of the Police minister.

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