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Law Commission launches review of parole and jail terms

The newly-established Law Commission has been tasked with reviewing Gibraltar’s criminal sentencing laws following recent controversy over whether convicted criminals serve sufficient time in jail.

At present, people jailed after conviction are eligible for parole after serving a third of their sentence, a throwback to a time when prisoners served time in poor conditions in Moorish Castle prison.

The Law Commission met for the first time recently and Justice Minister Neil Costa said its first project would be a wide-ranging review of parole and the maximum sentences for certain types of serious offences.

He wants the Commission to assess whether sentences and parole eligibility should be changes or guidelines issued so as to take note of differences between practices in the UK and Gibraltar.

In the UK, for example, prisoners must service at least half their sentence before they are eligible for parole.

“I have been very keen to get the work of the Commission started, especially, as the areas that the Commission is tasked to look into are matters in which I have a particular interest and which I know the public in Gibraltar are also keen should be properly and fully considered,” Mr Costa said after chairing the first meeting.

“I am especially pleased at the high calibre of the persons who have agreed to join the Attorney General and myself as members.”
I am certain that the Commission experts will provide sound advice to HM Government of Gibraltar so that future policy and legislation in relevant areas may be formulated in the national interest.”

The Law Commission is a statutory body created by the Government of Gibraltar to receive and consider proposals for the reform of the law, undertake the examination of particular branches of the law, formulate proposals for reform and generally provide information and advice to the Government on the reform or amendment of the law.

Mr Costa and Attorney General Michael Llamas, QC, sit on the Commission as ex officio members, together with a panel of experts in different fields such as education, the environment, financial services and the law.

These experts are Supreme Court Puisne Judge Karen Rammagge Prescott, Stipendiary Magistrate Charles Pitto, John Restano, QC, Mark Isola, QC, Dr Joey Britto, Dr Liesel Torres and Lawrence Podesta.

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