Prisoners are “begging” to be released on parole so they receive support and treatment programmes in the community.

Many inmates would rather be supervised in the community until the end of their sentence than be freed after serving two-thirds of the full term, according to the Parole Board.

The Board considers more than 100 parole applications every year and makes monthly trips to Westgate.

Last year it received 112 parole applications from a prison population of 280 and sanctioned the release of 34 inmates.

The Board also dealt with 35 breaches of parole in 2009 and nine released prisoners were returned to jail.

Chair of the Parole Board, Dame Jennifer Smith, told the Sun parole was not an “easy way out”.

And she suggested the latest figures demonstrated a more stringent approach to the way paroled prisoners were supervised.

She added: “It’s important to note that the nine recalls in 2009 are from the entire parole population — it does not mean that nine of the 35 paroled in 2009 were recalled.

“I think a lot of people do not appreciate what parole actually involves. It is not an easy option.

“When we look at the applications we have to weight all the factors into consideration.

“We study all sorts of documentation including previous convictions, recommendations from the sentencing judge and whether the prisoner has taken advantage of treatment programmes in prison.

“Then we will also look at their post-release prospects like whether they have a job to go to, what accommodation they have and what kind of support structure they have around them.

“We impose conditions on those we release on parole — like attending treatment programmes or reporting to their supervising officer — and if they fail to abide by them they can be returned to prison.

“We check up on our cases by conducting regular reviews.

“I think we are doing a good job — we are not perfect but we do the best we can.”

Fellow board member William Francis said parole offered institutionalized prisoners the chance to get their lives back on track.

He told the Sun: “People who have been back and forth to prison — like those fighting drug addiction — many of them come begging to be helped and supervised in the community.

“When inmates are released on parole into the community they are supervised until the end of the sentence.

“The public do not realize the number of people we have sent back to prison for breaching the terms of their parole — for things which do not even amount to a criminal offence.

“For long term prisoners who are institutionalized parole offers them a chance to get help on the outside.

“It eases them back into the community rather than having them go cold turkey into an environment they have not been in for a long time.”

Prisoners are legally entitled to apply for parole after serving a third of their sentence.

Board members make monthly trips to Westgate and also visit other correctional facilities like Co-Ed, The Farm and the Transitional Living Centre.

The Board, which is made up of five members, has seen a significant rise in the number of applications it has received in recent years.

Mrs. Smith said: “We are constantly amazed that so many people want to take parole.

“It means that they are under supervision until the end of the full sentence.

“If you don’t take it you get out when you have served two thirds of your sentence and there is no supervision.

“It seems prisoners want to make a change and get some help. Some people make it and some people don’t.

“We have seen that an ageing prison population is looking at ways of changing their behaviour. They want to become positive members of society.

“Those who come and think they are going to pull the wool over our eyes only do damage to themselves.

“Sooner or later their subterfuge becomes apparent and they end up going back.

“Those who think parole is the easy way out do not apply now.”