Theft: Shannon Trott, 30, appeared at court yesterday for stealing a purse shortly after being freed from prison. Magistrate Warner said he was released without proper support. *Photo by Kageaki Smith

Theft: Shannon Trott, 30, appeared at court yesterday for stealing a purse shortly after being freed from prison. Magistrate Warner said he was released without proper support. *Photo by Kageaki Smith

A senior magistrate has hit out at the parole board for releasing criminals too early.

Archibald Warner said the body was setting prisoners free with little thought for what support they need on the outside.

He claimed its actions were defeating the aims of the criminal justice system.

The outburst came at Magistrates’ Court yesterday as a man admitted stealing a purse from an SPCA volunteer.

Shannon Trott, 30, committed the crime shortly after he was released from prison for a similar offence.

Mr. Warner said: “The parole board is doing this time and time again. It does not make sense.

“It defeats the whole purpose of the criminal justice system.

“Either they don’t know what they are doing or they are being negligent.”

Referring to the Trott case — in which the defendant told the court he needed treatment and support — Mr. Warner said the court could only do so much.

He added: “It is not only what he is saying now but also his history.

“He was on a programme designed to treat him and he clearly failed that programme.

“He was sent to prison for a period and the parole board released him without considering what other interventions must be taken.

“It is so obviously stupid and it is happening again and again.

“The parole board releases people and then they go out and commit even more serious offences.

“They should have had a report to say what intervention would be necessary on releasing him back into the community. These courts can only do so much.

“If the other parts of the system refuse to play their part there is nothing else I can do.” Sheelagh Cooper, head of the Coalition for the Protection of Children, told the Bermuda Sun she believed there were inadequate treatment programmes for prisoners at Westgate.

Mrs. Cooper, a former parole board member, said the body faces a tough task in assessing if prisoners are ready to be released back into the community.

She added: “I don’t believe the right treatment programmes exist for prisoners to take advantage of.

Chance

“If there is no treatment programme in the prison and people are not getting the help they need they cannot be let out.

“Obviously the parole board has decided to give them a chance in the community without the proper programmes in place.”

The Bermuda Sun tried to contact Dame Jennifer Smith, chair of the parole board, and left a number of messages but we had not received a reply by the time we went to press.