Corrections “could have been clearer” to Parole Board in high-risk cases

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Mar 28, 2023 |

Juliana Bonilla-Herrera

A review of advice provided by Corrections staff to the Parole Board leading up to the murder of Juliana Bonilla-Herrera has found it “could have been clearer.”

Convicted rapist Joseph James Brider attacked Bonilla-Herrera as she slept in her bed in Addington in January 2022, just nine weeks after he was paroled from prison.

He was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum non-parole period of 23 years and preventive detention at the High Court in Christchurch.

Brider was living next door to Bonilla-Herrera when he broke into her flat and subjected her to a prolonged and violent attack, repeatedly stabbing and beating her as she begged for her life.

The findings of an independent review into advice provided by Corrections to the Parole Board regarding an accommodation placement for Joseph Brider was released today.

Corrections Chief Executive Jeremy Lightfoot said ‘the review found that Corrections did not provide incorrect information to the Parole Board ahead of Mr Brider’s final parole hearing, and that Corrections was entitled to form the view, based on the information our staff had, that there was no guarantee of a bed being available for Mr Brider on his release date (with Provider A).

I remain confident that my staff were focused on securing an appropriate placement for him in advance of his parole date and worked within available guidance to do so.”

He said “information provided by Corrections to the Parole Board for the October 2021 hearing outlined that we had pursued an alternative release address for Mr Brider with another support service (Provider B) for a number of reasons. These included that there was no guaranteed bed at Provider A, concerns around Mr Brider’s ability to engage with Provider A’s long term intensive reintegration programme due to the short period of time he would be on parole, and to continue his engagement with Provider B in the community.

However, the review also found that the Parole Board would have benefited from being explicitly advised that we had cancelled the referral to Provider A due to the uncertainty around whether or not a bed would be available in time for release.  

“I take this finding seriously and am fully committed to ensuring the Parole Board has all the information it needs to make an informed decision in cases involving high-risk offenders.”

He said “the Parole Board Chair and I agree that Corrections’ current guidance to our frontline staff could be clearer on what information is shared with the Parole Board in high-risk cases, to ensure different release proposals can be fully explored before deciding to grant someone parole. The Chair of the Parole Board and I have agreed to work together on strengthening our information-sharing processes.”

Lightfoot said “as part of this, we will be issuing updated guidance to frontline staff on what information to include in Parole Assessment Reports. This will include guidance on when staff should include additional information about any changes to a release proposal that is different to the proposal put forward in a previous hearing.”

“I have also accepted the review’s recommendation that where a referral to a provider has gone through our internal panels, any proposals to withdraw such referrals must go back through the same panel to ensure additional oversight into this decision-making.”

 “The review also recommended working with our accommodation service providers to improve the processes for confirming whether or not a bed is available for people released from prison, and the timeframe for this confirmation. I have accepted this recommendation we will be working with our providers on how we can achieve this.”

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

Have you got a news tip? Get in touch here

got a news tip?