As a Result of Public Defender's Recommendation, Prisoners will no Longer Encounter Delays in Appealing against Negative Parole Decisions

The Ministry of Justice has implemented the Public Defender’s recommendation and changed the administrative practice of penitentiary establishments, which had been greatly complicating the revision of parole decisions.

As a result of considering individual applications and conducting proactive monitoring, the Public Defender's Office learned that if the convict appealed against the decision of the local board to court, the penitentiary system was no longer able to consider the release of the prisoner on parole or mitigation of his/her punishment. The reason for the above was the fact that personal files of such prisoners would be sent to court and the penitentiary system could no longer reconsider their cases in accordance with the rules prescribed by law.

The convicts had to choose between two rights guaranteed by law - (1) to appeal against the negative decision of the board relating to parole or mitigation of punishment, or (2) to use the board’s repeated and periodic review mechanism within the timeframe set by law.

The Public Defender offered several alternatives to the Minister of Justice of Georgia to solve the problem and recommended to take the kind of measures that would provide an effective opportunity to appeal against a parole decision to court and would not impede the effective implementation of legal mitigation mechanisms.

It is welcome that the Ministry of Justice implemented the recommendation, took relevant measures to eliminate the illegal practice and gave specific instructions to all penitentiary establishments. The Public Defender’s Office will monitor the implementation of the changed rules in practice.

We would also like to remind the public that the Public Defender's Office has been monitoring the effectiveness of parole and other mitigation mechanisms for years. The Office has identified a number of problems in the work of local boards and the regulatory framework. The decisions of the boards are, unfortunately, unsubstantiated and inconsistent, their motive to reconsider a case at an oral hearing is not foreseeable, and there are no clear criteria provided by the relevant provision, which are used as a precondition for the release of prisoners.

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