A critical analysis of Parole in the criminal Justice system of Zambia

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Nkunika, Tifwepo
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The University of Zambia
The idealistic correctional goal of protecting the community while rehabilitating the offender has served as a reason for conducting research into the parole system from the Zambian perspective. The aim of this research is to explore parole as a phenomenon and to describe the process involved in successfully reintegrating an offender into the community in Zambia. The research gives an overview of the body responsible for all matters incidental to parole in Zambia, the National Parole Board. The research further explores the meaning of parole by analysing among others the functions parole plays in the criminal justice system of Zambia. The research also analyses the efficacy of parole in the criminal justice system of Zambia. It is important to note that parole had always been there in Zambian legislation. But the old Prisons Act had seen no prisoner released on parole as it is known today. The Prisons Act was amended in 2004 to establish the National Parole Board, which would be responsible of handling matters incidental to parole. However, the National Parole Board does not have the final say as to which prisoner is granted parole. The Board only recommends to the Commissioner of Prisons. Parole is the early release of inmates from correctional institutions prior to the completion of the prison sentence under supervision in the community. Parole was introduced to serve a number of purposes such as help in the rehabilitation of offenders and provide a smooth transition of their re-entry into the community. It was also introduced with the hope it would help reduce prison population as Zambian prisons are overcrowded. However, parole has not served most of its intended purposes in criminal justice system of Zambia because there are many barriers affecting the smooth administration of parole. Society is not well aware of the benefits of parole. When a prisoner is released early, society feels that the criminal justice system has failed. This contempt of parolees by society encourages recidivism and thus defeats the whole purpose of parole. Also, the criteria for prisoner eligibility for parole is insufficient. A prisoner can only be eligible for parole in Zambia if they have six months left on their sentence. Six months is insufficient incentive for behavioural change. Furthermore, parole is flawed in Zambia because the National Parole Board only recommends to the commissioner of Prisons who should be granted parole. The Board is not the final decision maker. Furthermore, the National Parole Board is underfunded. This causes a negative impact in the manner in which parole hearings are conducted. In order to make parole effective in the criminal justice system of Zambia, the National Parole Board should have programmes to educate society on the importance of parole in the criminal justice system. In addition, parole period should be increased from the current six months because six months is not enough if parole is to serve its functions in Zambia. Furthermore, the National Parole Board should be decentralised and it should have the autonomy to make parole decisions. Funding to the National Parole Board should be increased to enable parole hearings to be conducted thoroughly.
Criminal justice, Administration of--Zambia , Criminal law--Zambia