“No body, no parole” – No escape

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

There has recently been a review of the Queensland parole legislation.

Specifically, the Corrective Services Act 2006 has been amended to reflect a “No body, No Parole” policy, which has previously been adopted in other Australian jurisdictions including Victoria, Northern Territory and South Australia.

Under this legislation prisoners who are convicted of either murder or manslaughter, will not be ineligible for parole. That is, unless they cooperate with authorities in order to disclose the location of the victim’s body. This comes with the exception of those prisoners who are already on parole at the time the legislation is passed.

After 80 years of no major reforms The “No Body, No Parole” policy was introduced after a review was conducted into the Queensland Parole System, and in particular, its shortfalls. The purpose of this change was directed at encouraging prisoners to cooperate with the administration of justice, and most importantly, providing families of the deceased with closure. The policy would see prisoners who co-operated gaining the benefit of parole, and those who did not being refused parole, resulting in them serving their entire sentence behind bars.

The recommendation is based on the principle that a punishment is lacking in retribution if it allows a prisoner to be released into the community on parole without declaring what they did with the victim’s body.

Although this legislative reform imposes obligations on prisoners retrospectively and could be seen as impacting upon ones rights and liberties, the Corrective Services (No Body, No Parole) Amendment Bill 2017 provides that this is not the case.

Rather, that it is not designed to impact ones ability to receive parole, instead it places the responsibility on the parole board to determine whether a prisoner is cooperative in assisting in the location of their victim’s body.

There is of course the question that arises in situations where a prisoner wants to be compliant and cooperative, however, due to various factors is unable to assist in the location of the body of their victim.

Such factors could include where a prisoner maintains their innocence even though they were convicted of the offence. An example of this would be Lindy Chamberlain. Had this law been in force when her matter was before the Court, she would have never been released and would consequently have being remanded in custody for her entire sentence. Notwithstanding the fact, that ultimately she was found to be innocent.

Whether this legislation will prove to be effective or whether it will see prisoners invent untruths in order to appear co-operative, only time will tell.

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