Parole Programme – an opportunity for inmates

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Parole Programme is a programme initiated to reduce the number of offenders and to reintegrate rehabilitated offendersto the society. The Programme is extended to eligible inmates who pass a certain criteria with the prerequisite of compliance to certain conditions upon their release. This supervision protects and benefits the wider community by reducing the risk that offenders will commit further offences when released into the community. It also supports the reintegration of rehabilitated offenders into the community as isolating them is a waste of their human talents.

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A Parole Programme was first introduced in Maldives in 2000 as a pilot programme. 19 inmates were released, out of which two inmates violated the conditions of release and were returned to prison to serve their sentence. 14 inmates successfully completed the programme and were pardoned by the President. Three inmates were released from the programme after their sentences were completed during the programme. Due to the success of the programme, a Parole Board was formed for the first time in Maldives on 28th August 2003. The Parole Programme was initiated as per the procedures and guidelines set by the Parole Board.

The Parole Policy was first compiled in 2005, which was later reviewed and amended by the Policy Committee of the People’s Parliament on 24th February 2009. The Policy has since been included in the Act no. 2008/6 “General Policy Act”.

On 23rd December 2013, the Prisons and Parole Act was implemented. Once the new Act was implemented, the previously-followed Policy as well as the Parole Board was abolished.

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The President then assembled a new Parole Board on 26th February 2014, which included members representing different areas as mandated by the new Prisons and Parole Act. The new members included a senior officer from Maldives Police Service, a medical doctor, a lawyer from the Attorney General’s Office, a senior official from Ministry of Education, a senior official from Ministry of Health, a psychiatrist, a member from a civic organisation, a scholar from Ministry of Islamic Affairs and a commissioned officer from Maldives Correctional Service.

The new Policy was compiled, reviewed and published on Gazette on 07th August 2014, following which application for the parole process was opened to the inmates. A total of 415 inmates had applied for the Parole Programme in 2014, out of which 340 inmates passed the eligibility criteria. In 2014, the case of one inmate was submitted to the Parole Board and hence released to the community under the Programme.

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The parole system was further strengthened and carried out more swiftly in 2015, with several efforts carried out to provide parole opportunity for inmates with good behaviour or conduct already serving their sentences and meet the eligibility criteria. Thus, in 2015, the Parole Board met 48 times to review the 129 cases submitted to the Board. After reviewing the cases, 77 inmates were approved for the parole and released back to the community under the Parole Programme. The Board had rejected 55 cases while the case of one inmate was left undecided due to various issues. Out of the 77 parolees, 22 parolees were returned to prison for violation of their parole and five parolees were freed after successfully completing the Parole Programme. Four additional parolees were freed after receiving the President’s pardon, while one parolee had passed away during the programme. Under the Parole Programme, a total of 47 parolees had been successfully released back to the community since 2015.

Maldives Police Service, Prosecutor General’s Office and Parole Office of Maldives Correctional Service have been jointly working in diligence to make the Parole Programme a success. In that regard, work is in progress to release 300 inmates back into the community under the Parole Programme.

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