14 Mar 2012

American Samoa parole hearings delay claimed

7:03 pm on 14 March 2012

A prisoner in American Samoa is claiming the parole board has not met for about nine months, leaving inmates waiting longer for their applications to be considered.

The Samoa News reports that it received a letter from inmate Michael Agasiva stating the last parole hearing was in June last year.

Leilani Momoisea has more,

"Under the local statute, prisoners who have served a minimum term of their sentence are eligible to apply for parole, and if denied, may reapply six months after the board's denial. However, inmate Agasiva told Samoa News that there are currently only three parole board members, and two of them have been undergoing medical check-ups off-island. He says this means there are not enough people on the board to hold parole hearings. Criminal defence lawyer Sharron Rancourt says a client of hers has been eligible for parole for about five months and is still waiting for his parole hearing."

She says there is no guarantee that the parole board will grant parole, but it's very important for the inmates to have the opportunity afforded them in their local statutes. Sharron Rancourt says she has not received notice of any pending or upcoming hearing dates.