Some Australians Concerned About New Head of Parole Board

Questions of conflict of interest and his involvement in a wrongful conviction while a prosecutor…..From news source:

A former Director of Public Prosecutions who helped jail thousands of criminals will now be responsible for deciding whether they are released on parole, raising concerns of a potential conflict of interest.

Robert Cock, who led the office of the DPP between 1999 and 2009, was yesterday appointed chair of the Parole Review Board, which determines whether eligible prisoners are released back into society.

The Australian Lawyers Alliance and the state opposition have raised concerns that the appointment creates a potential conflict of interest, with Mr Cock presiding over the parole decisions of criminals he helped to imprison.

Parole decisions are made by taking into account factors affecting the offender (such as difficulties in jail, health and action taken to reform), the view of crime victims and their families and the safety of the community.

Australian Lawyers Alliance national president Greg Barns said the position usually was given to senior Supreme Court judges and he was unaware of a recent former DPP ever taking on such a role in any Australian jurisdiction.

“It’s a surprising appointment,” Mr Barns said.

“Mr Cock had carriage of a large number of prosecutions and dealt with victims and their families and often appeared personally in cases and now he will have these very same [convicted criminals] coming up before him seeking parole.

“The Attorney-General has left the public with the perception that we’ve got a person who’s formally been DPP now residing over the liberty or otherwise of people he’s previously prosecuted.”

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