Arthur William TAYLOR - 24/01/2019
Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002
Arthur William TAYLOR
Hearing: 24 January 2019
at Waikeria Prison by AVL from Auckland South Corrections Facility
Members of the Board:
- Judge L Bidois (Panel Convenor)
- Sir Ron Young (Chairperson)
- Dr S Davis
- Mr G Crowley
- Ms S Earl
DECISION OF THE BOARD
- Arthur William Taylor is for reconsideration of parole. He is serving 17½ years on a composite sentence for a raft of offending. His sentence commencement date was 28 September 2006, his parole eligibility date was 15 May 2012 and his sentence release date is 12 June 2022.
- Mr Taylor is today represented by counsel Ms Earl and is supported by [withheld].
- Mr Taylor seeks a grant of parole to the Dunedin address of [withheld]. That address has been assessed as suitable. It is in a semi-rural location. The occupants have been assessed as suitable. There was an intention by [withheld] to be present today but in her absence there is a letter on file confirming support from [withheld] for Mr Taylor.
- In December 2018, Mr Taylor successfully applied under section 26 to bring forward his scheduled parole hearing from August 2019 to an earlier date on the basis that all rehabilitative programmes had been completed, and reintegrative programmes that had previously been identified were not available to him in the prison but were available in the community.
- At previous Board hearings, Mr Taylor’s risk of reoffending had been analysed in some depth and at some length. There are departmental psychological report assessments that Mr Taylor continues to pose a high risk of general offending. There are other psychological reports that assess a lower risk, recognising completion of rehabilitative programmes and he having a strong release plan. The last Board favoured further events-focused prison-based psychological treatment as part and parcel of a slow and careful transition to release, together with reintegrative work.
- Mr Taylor has completed further individual psychological treatment between July and September 2018. The psychologist recommended further psychological input that coincides with his release from prison and engagement in reintegration.
- There had been five misconducts relating to rules and lawfulness of prison authorities’ conduct but a recent transfer to Waikeria Prison has seen significant change in behaviour and attitude, which Mr Taylor puts down to different and more receptive personnel at Waikeria Prison as opposed to other prisons.
- The Board spent some time engaging with Mr Taylor about his release proposal and future plans. The Board’s initial concern with his placement was that he had never met [withheld]. Mr Taylor outlined his relationship with these persons. [withheld] has or will shortly graduate as a lawyer. Mr Taylor advised that he speaks regularly with [withheld] and he has formed a close relationship with them. They are all interested in social justice.
- He is confident that he will transition back into the community without any issue. There is a separate sleep out where he will be housed and given the professional status of his sponsors there will be intellectual stimulation. Mr Taylor and [withheld] obviously share a common interest in the law. The advantages in the placement seen by the Board is that it is quiet and semi-rural which will give Mr Taylor the opportunity to wind down in a non-pressured situation, away from the pressures of urban living and out of the considerable public eye.
- Mr Taylor has a network of persons whom he can contact if he needs support or advice at any time. There is written confirmation of university courses being provided to Mr Taylor both in Dunedin and Auckland. The Dunedin placement requires weekly attendance, the Auckland placement being able to be carried out online.
- The future intention of Mr Taylor is to transfer to Auckland in six to eight months subject to his university study at Dunedin. Mr Taylor anticipates an offer of employment from [withheld]. The Board questioned Mr Taylor about what his living arrangements might look like if he moved to Auckland. Mr Taylor advised that he had spoken to [withheld] who resides in Auckland and that there is an intention to jointly acquire accommodation.
- The Board recognises that there is some uncertainty about relocation and future address but is comforted by the fact that Mr Taylor, if granted parole, would not be able to move without the consent of his probation officer. Any such relocation would have to be to approved accommodation.
- Mr Taylor acknowledges and recognises the need for compliance with such conditions as obtaining consent. Mr Taylor foresees no difficulty in complying with such a condition or any other conditions that the Board may impose.
- The Board spoke to Mr Taylor about alternative scenarios, for example, if the Dunedin placement fell through for some reason. Mr Taylor was able to articulate that he would in the first instance try and resolve any issue, he would immediately consult with his probation officer and his support network to address any issue that may arise relating to accommodation and in fact any other matter.
- The Board was able to take from those discussions that Mr Taylor had a good grasp and understanding of what his obligations and responsibilities would be on parole, and the need to comply.
- The Board spoke about Mr Taylor’s financial position, particularly where he needed to pay board whilst in Dunedin, and there will be a cost in relation to any relocation. Mr Taylor was able to advise the Board about sources of finance available to him which satisfied the Board that he would be able to meet such costs.
- The Board spoke to Mr Taylor about future prospects. Mr Taylor has an ambition to gain a law degree and to continue to work in the social justice arena, something that he has been able to do even as a prisoner for a number of years. Mr Taylor was excited about the future work opportunities of a para-legal kind for different organisations. He mentioned that he has a High Court civil trial that is to commence in February in Auckland and is confident that many opportunities will present to him. In keeping with this subject, again, Mr Taylor was able to recognise a need to engage with his probation officer about any form of employment that might be made available to him in the future.
- The Board recognised Mr Taylor’s future prospects and Mr Taylor’s enthusiasm for what lay ahead of him. The Board refrains from sharing a view on Mr Taylor’s optimism.
- There is a strong argument that his involvement in the legal world has raised his own personal understanding of the need to comply with lawful directions, including statutory directions such as complying with standard and special conditions set by the Board. It has also enhanced his understanding of the consequences of breaching such conditions and of course, reoffending.
- Mr Taylor understands that he has created for himself a high profile within the community and that will bring its own pressures, but he tells the Board that he is confident that he will be able to deal with this challenge and the ever present watchful eye of the community probation office.
- The Board recognises that Mr Taylor has been in prison for a long time, has completed all the rehabilitative programmes available to him and that no further constructive reintegration can be provided to him.
- He has approved accommodation to go to. He has a strong release plan, which includes support network, future employment prospects and a well-planned pathway forward.
- Mr Taylor asserts that he will live a law-abiding life from now on.
- The Board sees no value in trying to evaluate and assess all the psychological reports that have been done on Mr Taylor. It is fair to say that psychologists will agree to disagree about his risk.
- The Board takes the responsibility of assessing what he has completed whilst serving his sentence and what are his future prospects if released back into the community.
- The conclusion that the Board reaches is that Mr Taylor does not pose an undue risk to the safety of the community. Parole will be granted from [withheld] February 2019. There will be standard and special conditions to run through to sentence release date.
- The special conditions are as follows:
(1) Not to possess, use, or consume controlled drugs or psychoactive substances except controlled drugs prescribed for you by a health professional.
(2) To obtain the written approval of a Probation Officer before starting or changing your position and/or place of employment (including voluntary and unpaid work). To notify a Probation Officer if you leave your position of employment.
(3) To attend a psychological assessment and attend, participate in and complete any recommended treatment as directed by a Probation Officer.
(4) To undertake any other counselling, treatment or programme as may be directed by a Probation Officer.
(5) To reside at [withheld] or any other address approved in writing by a Probation Officer, and not move from that address unless you have the prior written approval of a Probation Officer.
(6) Not to have contact or otherwise associate, with any victim of your offending, directly or indirectly, unless you have the prior written approval of a Probation Officer.
(7) To comply with any direction made under section 29B(2)(b) of the Parole Act 2002 to attend a hearing at a time and place to be notified to you.
Judge L Bidois