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Old 19th January 2022, 10:46 AM   #1
theprestige
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General "Trials and Errors" Question: Parole

Should admission of guilt be a requirement for parole?

I can imagine why it's currently a requirement in some jurisdictions, but should it be?

Innocent people do get convicted. It seems perverse to force them to admit to a crime they did not commit, just to get the same privilege of early release that is accorded to people who actually did commit the crimes they're accused of.

Therefore, I think that admission of guilt should not be a requirement. Rather, consideration should be given to other factors, such as model behavior, efforts to better oneself and others, etc.

One possibility that vexes me is that prisoners may still perceive a real advantage in swaying the parole board's opinion, by admitting to guilt whether they are guilty or not.
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Old 19th January 2022, 01:36 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Should admission of guilt be a requirement for parole?
No

Forcing and admission of guilt from an innocent person magnifies the injustice.
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Old 20th January 2022, 08:35 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Should admission of guilt be a requirement for parole?

I can imagine why it's currently a requirement in some jurisdictions, but should it be?

Innocent people do get convicted. It seems perverse to force them to admit to a crime they did not commit, just to get the same privilege of early release that is accorded to people who actually did commit the crimes they're accused of.

Therefore, I think that admission of guilt should not be a requirement. Rather, consideration should be given to other factors, such as model behavior, efforts to better oneself and others, etc.

One possibility that vexes me is that prisoners may still perceive a real advantage in swaying the parole board's opinion, by admitting to guilt whether they are guilty or not.
In the UK it is not a requirement, but something the parole board can consider. The vast majority of people on parole have been convicted of relatively minor crimes. Parole is an incentive for them to behave well whilst in prison, and an incentive to co-operate with preventative services after leaving prison. Even if guilty people insist they are innocent parole has a useful function.
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Old 20th January 2022, 12:09 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Planigale View Post
In the UK it is not a requirement, but something the parole board can consider. The vast majority of people on parole have been convicted of relatively minor crimes. Parole is an incentive for them to behave well whilst in prison, and an incentive to co-operate with preventative services after leaving prison. Even if guilty people insist they are innocent parole has a useful function.
Not so here.

Scott Watson was jailed in 1999 for the murders of a young couple in the Marlborough Sounds; murders that he clearly did not commit. The Police fitted him up, pure and simple. Their case was a Swiss cheese of holes, they suppressed evidence and ignored witnesses. Too complicated to go into here but there is a thread here about his case

The point is he got life with 17 years non-parole. That was up in 2016, but now, five years later he has been denied parole four times because he maintains his innocence. He has stated that he would rather live the rest of his life in prison than admit to murders he did not commit.
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Old 20th January 2022, 12:57 PM   #5
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Mark Lundy and the admission of guilt

The case of Mark Lundy, also the subject of a thread here, is another one about which...there are substantial questions to be asked. IMO he should not have to admit guilt in order to be paroled.
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Old 20th January 2022, 01:03 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Planigale View Post
In the UK it is not a requirement, but something the parole board can consider.
I think this practice should be deprecated. Parole boards should not inquire into admission of guilt, and should not consider it when making parole determinations.
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Old 20th January 2022, 01:52 PM   #7
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This is a trickier question than it might seem. Lots of guilty people will insist on their innocence to the bitter end despite conclusive evidence. Clearly one of the factors that a parole board should look at is repentance, and without some admission of guilt, is there any real indication of remorse?

Society has to act as if a guilty sentence indicates real guilt. I get that puts the innocent in a pickle, not sure there is a good solution.
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Old 20th January 2022, 03:11 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
This is a trickier question than it might seem. Lots of guilty people will insist on their innocence to the bitter end despite conclusive evidence. Clearly one of the factors that a parole board should look at is repentance, and without some admission of guilt, is there any real indication of remorse?

Society has to act as if a guilty sentence indicates real guilt. I get that puts the innocent in a pickle, not sure there is a good solution.
This is a balanced take.

The problems here come way before this. One thing is that we are implying that parole is some sort of prize when in a lot of schemes it's more intended as the default. The idea being that the time to eligibility is the sentence and the remainder just there as a sort of backup for people who can't behave in jail or who don't toe the line during supervised release.

How the system crushes the innocent is a whole different thing and this is but a part...
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Old 20th January 2022, 03:26 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
This is a trickier question than it might seem. Lots of guilty people will insist on their innocence to the bitter end despite conclusive evidence. Clearly one of the factors that a parole board should look at is repentance, and without some admission of guilt, is there any real indication of remorse?
For me it's like the death penalty. I absolutely think it's the appropriate sentence for certain crimes. But because I don't have enough confidence in our criminal justice system to reliably convict the guilty and acquit the innocent, I think it's probably better if we take the death penalty off the table, at least for now.

Similarly, I think it's probably better if we take expressions of repentance off the table as a criteria for parole eligibility.

Do you agree that what you were convicted of is a crime and should be punished? Good.

Have you behaved as a model prisoner? Good.

Have you availed yourself of the opportunities provided, to better yourself and those around you? Whether it be educational opportunities, work-release programs, community service, mentoring, etc.? Good.
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Old 21st January 2022, 01:10 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
This is a trickier question than it might seem. Lots of guilty people will insist on their innocence to the bitter end despite conclusive evidence. Clearly one of the factors that a parole board should look at is repentance, and without some admission of guilt, is there any real indication of remorse?

Society has to act as if a guilty sentence indicates real guilt. I get that puts the innocent in a pickle, not sure there is a good solution.

Well, a good solution is a properly-functioning appeals system and a properly-accountable criminal justice system.

Now, of course theory and practice in this area are arguably still pretty far apart across many jurisdictions. But at least we're generally a lot closer to an effective appeals system than we were, say, 20-30 years ago.

And ultimately I have to agree with you when you point out that the default position for any parole authority to take has to be that whoever's before them for parole is both judicially and factually guilty of the crime for which they were convicted and sentenced. This is not without good reason either: the overwhelming majority of people convicted of a crime really did commit the crime. We should not, and cannot, set the system up to cater for the relatively minuscule proportion of convicts (for whom I feel genuine sorrow and bitter frustration at their Catch-22 situation) who were wrongly convicted and who haven't been able to successfully appeal.

Psychologists know that criminals really do pose a lower risk of post-release recidivism if they are able to confront their own offending behaviour, own that behaviour, and take active steps to avoid re-offending. In this respect, parole boards typically look for a lot more than just a simple "Yeah OK, I admit I did it". They want to see active and sincere engagement in behavioural modification programmes; they want to see someone who engages with the prison authorities and seeks to better themselves while incarcerated; they want to hear the person admit to genuine and sincere remorse over their offending; they want to hear something more along the lines of "Yes I did commit the crime(s), this is why I believe I committed the crime(s), this is why I now know it was wrong for me to have committed the crime(s), and these are the steps I have taken/am taking towards being a productive member of society and staying away from offending behaviours".

Of course, as with anything of this nature, it's eminently possible for prisoners to "fake it til they make it": to feign sincerity and acceptance as an intentional deception aimed at getting themselves released. But evidence shows that even allowing for this sort of deception, prisoners released on parole who exhibit the traits listed in the previous paragraph have significantly better post-release life chances than (say) prisoners who are granted automatic parole at a certain point in their sentence, and who have never confronted or owned their offending behaviour.
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Old 21st January 2022, 02:44 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
No

Forcing and admission of guilt from an innocent person magnifies the injustice.
The thing is that when someone has been convicted and lost his appeals, in the eyes of the law he is guilty. The parole board's job is not to re-assess his guilt, but to determine whether releasing him poses a threat to the community. Accepting responsibility is part of the rehabilitation process. Refusing it raises questions about what else he won't take responsibility for. Innocent people should never be convicted, and when it happens it should be easier for them to be set free. But I don't think that's the role of the parole board.

Paradoxically, when someone refuses parole when it's dangled in front of him, it might strengthen his argument that he's innocent.
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Old 21st January 2022, 07:57 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
This is a trickier question than it might seem. Lots of guilty people will insist on their innocence to the bitter end despite conclusive evidence. Clearly one of the factors that a parole board should look at is repentance, and without some admission of guilt, is there any real indication of remorse?

Society has to act as if a guilty sentence indicates real guilt. I get that puts the innocent in a pickle, not sure there is a good solution.
I agree with ThePrestige above but I agree with this as well. I was imagining "You were clearly captured on video with 20 different cameras killing you 96 year old grandmother. You were seen by 50 witnesses do you finally admit that you killed her?"

If the answer is no then I could see that being a problem.
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Old 21st January 2022, 09:00 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
The thing is that when someone has been convicted and lost his appeals, in the eyes of the law he is guilty. The parole board's job is not to re-assess his guilt, but to determine whether releasing him poses a threat to the community. Accepting responsibility is part of the rehabilitation process. Refusing it raises questions about what else he won't take responsibility for. Innocent people should never be convicted, and when it happens it should be easier for them to be set free. But I don't think that's the role of the parole board.

Paradoxically, when someone refuses parole when it's dangled in front of him, it might strengthen his argument that he's innocent.
I completely disagree with this view. Accepting responsibility for something that you know you did not do should never be a part of anything.

The key issue here (the only issue IMO) is that were have a very unjust situation where an actual murderer, who loses nothing by admitting what they know they did, can get parole, whereas an innocent person, who loses everything by admitting to something they have not done, cannot get parole.

This situation is deeply and manifestly unfair!
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Old 22nd January 2022, 08:12 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Should admission of guilt be a requirement for parole?

I can imagine why it's currently a requirement in some jurisdictions, but should it be?

Innocent people do get convicted. It seems perverse to force them to admit to a crime they did not commit, just to get the same privilege of early release that is accorded to people who actually did commit the crimes they're accused of.

Therefore, I think that admission of guilt should not be a requirement. Rather, consideration should be given to other factors, such as model behavior, efforts to better oneself and others, etc.

One possibility that vexes me is that prisoners may still perceive a real advantage in swaying the parole board's opinion, by admitting to guilt whether they are guilty or not.
I'm inclined to agree. Although I think that admission of guilt and cooperation in providing information is one factor a parole board could consider, I don't think it should be a requirement or that maintaining factual innocence (as opposed to trying to rationalize an offence) should be a disqualification. There are other predictors that can still be used for risk assessment, such as demonstration of ability to refrain from anti-social and to engage in pro-social behaviour.

I'm also somewhat skeptical about the weight placed on remorse and the ability to distinguish genuine and feigned remorse. I suspect that many of those doing risk assessment overestimate their ability to do this, in the same way that experienced investigators are overconfident in their ability to detect deception. I remember reading some time ago that prisoners scoring high on psychopathy were both more likely to be granted parole (because they were good at faking) and also more likely to re-offend. The statistical evidence using remorse to predict reoffending is somewhat equivocal.

Another interesting issue is what types of monitoring should be used for those on parole (or released on licence using UK terms). There is a debate over the ethical issues in using fake polygraph tests to assess compliance with licence conditions, although it might be OT for this thread.
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Old 23rd January 2022, 04:26 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Chris_Halkides View Post
The case of Mark Lundy, also the subject of a thread here, is another one about which...there are substantial questions to be asked. IMO he should not have to admit guilt in order to be paroled.
He has stated his only grim recourse is to never acquiesce.
Interestingly there is no logistical sequence where an admission of guilt could be assembled into a plausible confession.
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Old 23rd January 2022, 04:36 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Elaedith View Post
I'm inclined to agree. Although I think that admission of guilt and cooperation in providing information is one factor a parole board could consider, I don't think it should be a requirement or that maintaining factual innocence (as opposed to trying to rationalize an offence) should be a disqualification. There are other predictors that can still be used for risk assessment, such as demonstration of ability to refrain from anti-social and to engage in pro-social behaviour.


...snip...
That is the system in the UK, and we have regarding parole got it about right (which given the mess the entire justice systems are in is quite astonishing).
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Old 23rd January 2022, 06:47 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
Paradoxically, when someone refuses parole when it's dangled in front of him, it might strengthen his argument that he's innocent.
"So you admit to committing the crime, are truly sorry and promise to be a model citizen from now on? Liar! We happen to know that you didn't actually do it and are just trying to get out of prison by pretending to have remorse. No parole for you!"
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Old 29th January 2022, 07:24 AM   #18
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It was changed relatively recently in both England and Scotland I think. Stefan Kiszko, who didn't murder Lesley Moleseed, was jailed in his early twenties. This was in the days when sentences for murder were shorter, and he could have been out long before he was if he'd confessed. He said he would never confess to something he hadn't done. As a result he was in jail for about 16 years (before he was exonerated) when he could have been out in about 12. They deducted 16 years bed and board from the compensation he was given.

Now murder sentences tend to be more like 20 to 25 years, but the law - or possibly standard practice - has changed so that a confession isn't necessary to be released on licence if the other things like risk of reoffending and so on are satisfactory.

There has been a recent controversy as regards prisoners who have been convicted of murder but the body has never been found. A family in England was given assurances that were entirely misleading, essentially that the murderer's refusal to reveal what he did with the body would be "taken into consideration" at a parole hearing. Which is of course no assurance at all, although they hailed it as a great victory and believed he would not be released. Of course the parole board "took it into consideration" then decided that as the murderer had held out this far he was never going to reveal what he did with the woman's body so they might as well let him go as there was no point keeping him in jail.

This is going to come up again when David Gilroy comes up for parole as the two cases are extremely similar. He isn't telling either. I suppose on the whole it's better to let scum like Gilroy out if it prevents what happened to Kiszko from happening to someone else, like Luke Mitchell, but it still grates.
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