A request for Information was sent to Minister Louise Upston 1/2/2017, in relation to some questions in which I had with the way in which the Parole Board has come out. I haven't edited anything other than the contact details for myself.
I am highly concerned that the Parole Board announces conflicting information and different results for different people. Not implying that there is necessarily corruption in the Parole board but it would be nice to see some consistencies.
Did I expect a response, yes, but it is typical that a Minister doesn't answer the hard questions I have seen it on numerous occasions lately, funny, thing is in this instance, I sent the email to Louise Upston herself, and her Parliamentary Office too, as well as her constituency office.
As per any request for information is meant to be handled in line with the Official Information Act, and responded to within 20 Working Days, a complaint to the Ombudsman will follow this article. Although the Ombudsman is likely to be getting swamped by complaints related to this kind of issue, as it is a common occurrence and getting worse.
I expect the questions are too hard for the Minister to answer, but if that is the case she should have responded and passed it on to someone else which often happens. Her plain ignoring of the email sent, requesting information speaks volumes.
If the minister or someone else responds I will let you all know.
Below is the email of which was sent to the Corrections Minister, Louise Upston.
Hi Minister Upston,
I am writing this email to you as you are the Minister of Department of Corrections.
Firstly, if you could take the time to read through my article http://mymedia.co.nz/2017/01/03/could-cases-like-scott-watsons-become-an-election-issue/ and please respond with some comments.
Secondly, I am going to ask a few questions for a further article on the same matter. As there are a few things which alarm me in this process.
Before I ask the questions I do acknowledge that you are relatively new in the job, but I do feel there is an element of Public Interest, in this case and the answers could help answer many peoples questions.
I have included the report from the parole board website for easy reference. http://www.paroleboard.govt.nz/decisions-of-public-interest/watson_-_scott_-_06122016.html
Question 1: Are you aware of this report and have you read this report fully?
Answer 1 :
Question 2: Whilst it isn’t the Parole Boards position to act as a Court of Appeal, The Parole Board also state that, in Paragraph 11. Balanced against that are other principles in Section 7 that:
(2) (a) …offenders must not be detained any longer than is consistent with the safety of the community... So the Parole Board are saying they can not detain offenders longer then necessary to be consistent with the safety of the community? That’s how I see it.
Question 3: Paragraph 23 states Watson had expressed motivation to continue further psychological treatment, and he may well have minimized the degree to which his substance abuse negatively impacted his younger years. I Don’t think anyone is suggesting Watson was a saint. But this is surely a step to reduce re-offending and therefore is it not a method for reducing the risk factors? Take this also upon paragraph 22 states: 22. He also expressed the view that: It is likely that as Mr Watson, over time, gains proficiency in the skills he has been introduced to in this current course of treatment his overall risk of re offending will be reduced with a number of dynamic risk factors having been addressed. Would I be correct in my earlier presumption in this question? And some time has passed since these comments were made?
Question 4: In Paragraph 27 It states that Watson has been a member of a community gang for the past year or so, spending time in the community. Doesn’t this already prove that the risk level is reducing? In the community and without incident otherwise the incidents will be stated here? And that there is no risk to the community otherwise Watson would not be allowed in the community at all? I am aware that a signed Affadavit from a fellow worker provides a glowing reference from a member of the public for Scott Watson.
Question 5: Mr Watson seems willing to comply with any measures including GPS Tracking. Remembering being on parole could mean recalled for anything so if he was willing to comply with whatever restrictions and have a large array of restrictions or requirements failure to comply with anything would see him straight back behind bars. This seems like someone who is making an effort why not give him a chance?
Question 6: Paragraph 36, The person who committed these crimes was a cold-blooded killer. His victims must have died in terrible circumstances. Mr Watson has been found to be that man beyond reasonable doubt. This statement is complete and utter nonsense I would of expected more from the Parole Board. The first part of this statement is based on presumptions and yes if those presumptions were correct would be true. But no Bodies, no crime scene no murder weapen no motive no nothing from what I can see. The final part of the paragraph refers to technically a past tense. At the time of his trial this may have been the case but with so much doubt now cast on the case even by the most vocal “Watson is Guilty camp” Ian Wishart, how can one say these things in a parole board hearing report?
Question 7: Paragraph 37, identifies that Watson’s already started to reduce his risk, of re offending. Why then postpone further parole hearings?
Question 8: When it appears that Watson despite having some trust issues (Considering the circumstances who wouldn’t?) is willing to comply with anything and has been co-operative. Appears to have done things the right way for his beliefs. He can’t get parole but when some people have no willingness to comply, and be uncooperative to the point where some have threatened parole bboards and been released. Such as http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10884944 Whilst these two cases maybe slightly different at Least Watson appears willing to comply.
Question 9: How can one suggest that one is unsafe in the community despite being released in the community as part of a community gang for the past year? This needs serious explaining. And Shutting the door to the community gang wouldn’t be the way to solve it. As if this was the case it would raise a number of other questions and be the basis of another article.
Question 10: Minister, what do you propose you could do to resolve this situation so that the public could be resolved over the issue. Could you put a recommendation for another look into the case to the Minister of Justice? What steps could corrections do to make sure that these issues don’t happen again? And how can you make sure that Mr Watson is given a fair chance?
You have to remember that Scott Watson maintains his innocence, which I must admit looks like a complete and utter setup and a miscarriage of justice, yet is willing to comply with the corrections and justice departments upon release. To me it says a lot about Mr Watson’s character. He of all people would know walking out of a dairy forgetting to pay for a loaf of bread would get him recalled to prison.
This is for an article which will go online So I request the information in a timely manner as to not hinder any such article. But I am aware of the Official Information Act no longer than 20 Working days. So failure to respond within this time frame will mean an article with the questions and no answers will be published and other steps taken.
I Would like your comments as the minister of Corrections on 1, the article mentioned first, and secondly the questions of which followed. Sorry some are long and some have multiple parts. I am intending in publishing both the question and the answer and am more than willing to send you a completed copy of the article.
Your comments and answers can be responded to via email to WITHELD if you have any further questions or would like to discuss this further directly with myself please feel free to contact me on (XX) XXX XXXX
Article for MyMedia.co.nz