Seventeen prisoners released on parole
Seventeen prisoners including two females make up the first group of offenders given parole this year.
The individuals were presented with parole certificates on Thursday at the old Land and Titles Court house, Mulinu’u.
The offenders had to complete a three-month programme with the Samoa Social Welfare Fesoasoani Trust (SSWEFT) and be on their best behaviour before they were eligible.
One the two women granted parole, Joyce Wilson, is extremely grateful.
She said she has learnt her lesson and encourages all members of the public to avoid the place at all cost.
“You all know what it was like at prison,” said Ms. Wilson.
“It was a hard life to live and I don’t ever want to go back there. People laughed at us and did not want to be associated with us so I ask you my brothers to change your ways and do not go back to prison.”
Ms. Wilson added there are far better things to spend their lives on like developing their families.
Another offender, Lavea Iulai Hawai,i echoed the same message.
“We all have committed different crimes which we had to pay for by going to Tafaigata,” said Lavea.
“It is a lesson for us all that prison does not discriminate. It does not matter whether you are a Member of Parliament or hold a high office position, prison is the place for you if you commit a crime.”
Co-Founder of SSWEFT, Tofilau Galuvaa Palolo, encouraged the offenders to seek God’s guidance in all that they do.
She reminded the offenders that everything that happened to them was because of the choices they made.
“It is your choice to do right or do wrong,” said Tofilau. “I encourage you if you want to stay away from prison you have to do right.”
SSWEFT Senior Counselor, Apolo Fata Salafai, said the seventeen prisoners committed various crimes.
She said under the programme, they were under strict supervision and the offenders had to apply for parole.
Their applications were then reviewed by the Parole Board before they were monitored for three months.
The offenders are released on bail with terms of conditions.
They are not allowed to be under the influence of alcohol, go to night clubs or go to public places that are crowded.
Under the Prison’s Parole Board Act 1979, offenders serving under one year sentence are released with no parole conditions.
All offenders serving one year or more apart from those sentenced to life imprisonment are eligible to apply for parole at one year or after the expiry of one half of the term of the sentence whichever period is longer.
Prisoners who have had a death sentence commuted to life imprisonment (eg: murder) must serve 10 years before being eligible for parole.
Inmates who are serving life imprisonment (eg: rape and manslaughter offence) must serve 8 years before being eligible for parole.