Parole - A Calculated Risk

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20180525

Rex Bloomstein investigates how parole panels make their decisions on releasing prisoners.

Rex Bloomstein goes inside the parole system to reveal how decisions are made regarding the release of prisoners, including those convicted of violent offences.

Gerald is an armed robber who has wielded guns and knives during a lifetime of crime. He's spent more than half his life in prison, and is serving an Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentence for aggravated burglary. A drug and alcohol addict, he cannot be released until a parole panel decides he is no longer likely to commit a serious violent offence. His solicitor says the upcoming parole hearing at Brixton Prison is the "last chance saloon" for her client.

Rex Bloomstein has been given an extraordinary level of access to record Gerald's hearing, along with those of several other prisoners.

He meets the prisoners ahead of their crucial hearings and listens-in on the entire process as parole panels interrogate prisoners and witnesses. The panels discuss evidence from prison staff, probation workers and psychologists, arriving at their conclusions and explaining their decisions - to release or not to release. The consequences of getting it wrong, weigh heavily on them. For the prisoners, the tension leads to tears and anger.

Every year, the Parole Board releases thousands of prisoners, including those convicted of the most serious violent offences, such as murder, rape and arson. In two programmes, Rex Bloomstein talks to Parole Board chief executive Martin Jones, and former chair Nick Hardwick who resigned after the High Court quashed a parole panel's decision to release serial sex offender John Warboys.

Is the Parole Board sufficiently accountable, transparent and effective? Senior parole panel member Judge Jeremy Roberts considers how the way he and his colleagues make decisions might have to change in the wake of the Warboys case.

Producer: Brian King and Rex Bloomstein
A 7digital production for BBC Radio 4.

20180525

Rex Bloomstein investigates how parole panels make their decisions on releasing prisoners.

Rex Bloomstein goes inside the parole system to reveal how decisions are made regarding the release of prisoners, including those convicted of violent offences.

Gerald is an armed robber who has wielded guns and knives during a lifetime of crime. He's spent more than half his life in prison, and is serving an Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentence for aggravated burglary. A drug and alcohol addict, he cannot be released until a parole panel decides he is no longer likely to commit a serious violent offence. His solicitor says the upcoming parole hearing at Brixton Prison is the "last chance saloon" for her client.

Rex Bloomstein has been given an extraordinary level of access to record Gerald's hearing, along with those of several other prisoners.

He meets the prisoners ahead of their crucial hearings and listens-in on the entire process as parole panels interrogate prisoners and witnesses. The panels discuss evidence from prison staff, probation workers and psychologists, arriving at their conclusions and explaining their decisions - to release or not to release. The consequences of getting it wrong, weigh heavily on them. For the prisoners, the tension leads to tears and anger.

Every year, the Parole Board releases thousands of prisoners, including those convicted of the most serious violent offences, such as murder, rape and arson. In two programmes, Rex Bloomstein talks to Parole Board chief executive Martin Jones, and former chair Nick Hardwick who resigned after the High Court quashed a parole panel's decision to release serial sex offender John Worboys.

Is the Parole Board sufficiently accountable, transparent and effective? Senior parole panel member Judge Jeremy Roberts considers how the way he and his colleagues make decisions might have to change in the wake of the Worboys case.

Producer: Brian King and Rex Bloomstein
A 7digital production for BBC Radio 4.

20180601

Rex Bloomstein goes inside Britain's prisons to observe the parole system in action - revealing how decisions are reached regarding the release of prisoners.

Every year, the Parole Board releases thousands of prisoners, including those convicted of the most serious violent offences, such as murder, rape and arson. The recent controversy over the release of serial sex offender John Warboys has raised major questions about how the parole system works.

Rex Bloomstein meets prisoners ahead of their crucial hearings and listens-in on the entire process as the parole panel interrogates prisoners and witnesses, attempting to establish if release would present a risk of further serious harm to society. The panels are heard discussing the evidence from prison staff, probation workers and psychologists, arriving at their conclusions and explaining their decisions - to release or not to release.

The serious consequences of getting it wrong weigh heavily on them and Rex finds out more about the people who make these crucial decisions on society's behalf, asking if the Parole Board is sufficiently accountable, transparent and effective in what it does.

He talks to Parole Board chief executive Martin Jones as well as former chair Nick Hardwick who resigned after the High Court quashed a parole panel's decision to release Warboys. How might the parole system have to change in the wake of that decision?

The programme also includes Probation Service executive director Sonia Crozier, Victims' Commissioner Baroness Helen Newlove, and solicitors representing the interests of prisoners.

Producers: Brian King and Rex Bloomstein
A 7digital production for BBC Radio 4.