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Mar 19, 2019

Prisoner’s Lawsuit Against Parole Board is Heard

From the Magistrate Court to the Supreme Court where inmate, Hillaire Sears is suing the Parole Board for breaching his constitutional rights. On December twelfth, 2002, Sears who was twenty-five years old at the time was convicted of the crime of manslaughter after he fatally shot Rodwell Neal at his home on Kraal Road on March eighteenth, 2001. Sears was released on parole after serving ten years but his parole was revoked after he violated one of its conditions. Sears tested positive for cannabis.  But his attorney, Leslie Mendez, says that the Parole Board did not follow procedures, before handing down the decision. Mendez says that the Board violated her client’s right as Sears was not given the opportunity to have his case heard. Sears remains at the Belize Central Prison and this morning Mendez presented her arguments before Supreme Court Justice Michelle Arana.

 

Leslie Mendez, Attorney for Claimant

Leslie Mendez

“The constitutional claim really challenges one certain action of prison guards while detaining him at the prison while he was working at the prison on parole. So they detained him without an official decision being made to revoke his parole. This happened for fifty-five days and then they revoked his parole. The other part of the claim is also challenging, constitutionally, the decision to revoke his parole. Basically what we are saying is that procedural fairness mandated that before you revoke you are supposed to give him an opportunity to be heard before revoking his parole and this was never done. We also say that the cases, the jurisprudence show that when you are revoking the parole, or you are granting parole the main consideration is whether or not he poses a threat to public safety. This was not done. What happened was that there was a mechanical approach to the breach of the condition of the parole which says ‘you breached the condition of the parole, your parole is revoked.’ The cases say that procedural fairness does not set out and does not legitimize such an approach.”

 

Reporter

“What term of the parole did he violate?

 

Leslie Mendez

“I believe that it was a condition that he no use drugs and in this case, there was a test that showed, he tested positive for cannabis. And so immediately after that test came there was the decision to revoke his parole. Our position is that even if there was a breach of a condition, the parole board has been heard. It does not only has to be heard but the question is, does he pose a risk to public safety because under the parole regime, law, the act, says that there are other options available to the parole board which is imposing other conditions to address whatever risk is posed or the particular breach of the condition. Further conditions could have been imposed as opposed to revoking his parole.”

 

Justice Arana reserved her decision to a later date. The parole board was represented by the Solicitor General’s office. Sears is also asking to be released forthwith and damages.

 


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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