LCQ12: Review on long-term and indeterminate sentences
The Long-term Prison Sentences Review Ordinance (Cap 524) provides that long-term and indeterminate prison sentences must be referred to the Long-term Prison Sentences Review Board for review in accordance with specified timetables. Where the Board considers it appropriate to defer making a recommendation for a determinate sentence for a prisoner serving an indeterminate sentence, it may order the release of the prisoner conditionally under supervision. Moreover, the Board may order a prisoner whose indeterminate sentence has been converted by the Chief Executive to a determinate one to be released early under supervision. According to the last two reports of the Board, which cover the period from June 1997 to June 2004, only two cases of conditional releases under supervision were effected throughout the whole period. Some family members of prisoners have expressed concern about the infrequent grant of the aforesaid two kinds of release of prisoners. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of an annual breakdown of the respective numbers of cases since July 2004 in which the Board ordered prisoners to be (i) conditionally released under supervision and (ii) released early under supervision;
(2) whether the Correctional Services Department makes recommendations on the aforesaid two kinds of release of prisoners to the Board; if so, of the respective numbers of recommendations made each year since July 2004; and
(3) when the next Board report will be issued?
The Long-term Prison Sentences Review Board (the Board) is an independent statutory body established pursuant to the Long-term Prison Sentences Review Ordinance (Cap 524) (the Ordinance). Its main functions include reviewing the indeterminate sentences or long-term prison sentences of 10 years or more of persons in custody (PICs). Under section 6 of the Ordinance, the Board shall consist of eight to 11 members appointed by the Chief Executive (CE). The President and Deputy President must be judges or former judges of the Court of First Instance. Other members include persons with expertise and experience in various disciplines such as psychiatry, psychology, social work, law, education, commerce or industry, etc.
Under section 11 of the Ordinance, the Commissioner of Correctional Services must refer cases of PICs serving the aforementioned sentences to the Board for sentence review in accordance with the stipulated review schedules. For example, the sentence of a PIC serving a mandatory life sentence or a long-term prison sentence is to be referred to the Board for review as soon as practicable after the fifth anniversary of the date of the start of the sentence, then every two years thereafter.
The Board would review each case on its own merits and consider all the relevant factors, including the nature of the offence committed by the PIC, the length of the sentence already served, whether the PIC has repented his wrongdoing, and the possible impact on public safety, etc.
Our reply to the different parts of the question is as follows:
(1) Pursuant to section 15(1)(b) of the Ordinance, the Board may, when reviewing the sentence of a PIC, make a conditional release order to direct a PIC serving an indeterminate sentence, such as a life sentence, to be conditionally released under supervision if the Board wishes to defer making a recommendation to the CE for converting the sentence to a determinate one. From 2004 to 2016, 10 PICs were ordered by the Board to be conditionally released under supervision.
Pursuant to section 15(1)(c) of the Ordinance, the Board may make a post-release supervision order to direct the early release of a PIC under supervision if his indeterminate sentence has been converted by the CE to a determinate one. From 2004 to 2016, 102 PICs were ordered by the Board to be put under supervision after release.
The annual breakdown of the above figures is at Annex.
(2) On each sentence to be reviewed by the Board, the Correctional Services Department (CSD) would provide the Board with a report on the PIC covering such matters as the length of the sentence already served, the PIC's conduct in prison, remorse shown for the offence and CSD's recommendations, if any, such as whether an indeterminate sentence should be converted to a determinate one. After considering CSD's recommendations and other relevant factors, if the Board recommends an indeterminate sentence to be converted to a determinate sentence and the CE accepts the recommendation, the Board will make a post-release supervision order. The CSD does not make recommendations for conditional release under supervision. The Board does not keep statistics on the number of recommendations made by the CSD.
(3) Information on the Board, including its functions, duties, membership, sentence review schedules and procedures, principles which the Board must have primary regard to, factors to be considered by the Board in the sentence reviews, caseload and statistics, is available on its webpage. As such information is already available to the public, the Board does not publish regular reports separately.
Ends/Wednesday, November 1, 2017
Issued at HKT 12:15
Issued at HKT 12:15