Thousands of community service hours wiped

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis should apologise to victims of crime after his Department chose to reduce community service sentences imposed by the Court on parolees during the Covid-19 lockdown, National’s Corrections spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

“During the lockdown Correction probation officers had two options under the Epidemic Preparedness Notice when dealing with parolees and their community service sentences.

“One was to extend the amount of time the parolee had to complete their community service, the other was to wipe off hours and reduce the sentence.

“Not a single hour of community service was delayed as a result of the pandemic, instead probation officers chose to simply wipe off 130,000 hours of community service.

“It was clear something had to happen as parolees were unable to complete community service hours during lockdown, but simply wiping those hours sends a terrible message to victims of crime. The parolees should have had their community service delayed rather than wiped. If you commit a crime you should face the consequences.

“More than 11,000 offenders were eligible to have their sentences reduced or delayed. It seems everyone in our team of 5 million played their part during lockdown, but for some it meant more freedom than less.

“Kelvin Davis needs to justify why it was necessary for offenders, who have been ordered to give back through community service, can simply receive a lighter sentence due to Covid-19. That’s not fair on their victims.”