Parole board still has questions to answer
How was Burton released from segregation straight out into the public? How can a man who has been deep within prison culture really succeed on the outside? Why wasn’t there a process to de-institutionalize this guy? Are we really surprised that this tragedy occurred? The Parole board still has some answers to give the public, especially those victimised by Burton.
Burton 'not stable' before parole
A former worker at Rimutaka Prison has revealed Burton was regarded as unstable and potentially violent a month before he was granted parole. Andy Coward, who has a PhD in cognitive psychology, was working in the segregation unit at Rimutaka Prison when Burton was transferred there about May last year. The parole board decided to release Burton in March pending a psychological assessment. He was granted parole in June and released on July 10. Dr Coward has worked in prison systems for 20 years across four continents and dealt with Burton for a fortnight. "If he [Burton] was suitable for parole, surely he would have been in a lower risk unit. You don't put him in a high security unit if he's going to be released. That doesn't make any sense whatsoever," Dr Coward said. "I couldn't believe they let him out. He clearly wasn't stable." Dr Coward said he had no issues with Burton and "consequently never saw the worst of him". "I never saw him strike anyone, but I saw him lose his temper a few times. He certainly had a potential for violence."
The Corrections Department would not comment on why Burton was transferred nor whether he remained there until his release. The department has generally refused to comment on Burton until its internal review of the case is completed. President of the Howard League for Penal Reform Peter Williams, QC, questioned whether an inmate in the segregation unit would be ready for release. "I would have thought he'd go through a period of lessened security in prison and that would continue - though it's not always practical - outside the prison so the adjustment to society is not abrupt, but gradual," Mr Williams said. "If a person is regarded as being so difficult that he needs to be segregated in prison, one would think it would be unlikely that he would immediately adjust."
Of course Burton’s offending will force focus on another little treasure, Bailey Junior Kurariki. I remember arguing at the time of his conviction that he should never have been put inside a prison and that he was guilty of a trial by media. 12 year olds shouldn’t be put in prison, he will become a little monster from his experiences inside and all those who cried for his incarceration will immediately jump on his next crime with as much passion, refusing to see how putting him inside in the first place will connect with his offending behaviour now. I bet most people aren’t even aware that Kurariki never even hit Michael Choy.
Child killer's parole hearing not going ahead today
The parole hearing for New Zealand's youngest killer is not going ahead today. Bailey Junior Kurariki, who was 12 when he and five other young people killed south Auckland pizza delivery man Michael Choy in September 2001, was expected to come before the parole board today. But parole board spokeswoman Sonja de Friez said the board would not be hearing Kurariki's application for release just yet.