Notorious jailhouse lawyer Arthur Taylor is set to be released from prison after serving 15 years of his current sentence.
The parole board made the decision to grant parole at a hearing on Thursday afternoon. It was the 20th time Taylor has been considered for release.
Taylor will be released to a Dunedin address in mid-February.
It comes at a time when those close to the system say the Parole Board’s attitude is changing, and new initiatives are seeing more eligible people released from prison – part of a push by Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis to find inefficiencies in the system.
Taylor, 62, is currently serving more than 17 years for various crimes relating to explosives, firearms, kidnapping and conspiracy to supply methamphetamine.
In past decisions, the board has cited a lack of remorse and manipulative tendencies, as reasons to keep him behind bars.
In February last year Taylor went before the board where he argued he was ready for release. But two psychologists said he was at risk of re-offending.
According to media reports, one said he “characteristically demonstrates psychopathic personality traits such as superficial, glib, deceitful, lacking remorse and/or does not accept responsibility”.
However, Hazel Heal – an advocate for Taylor – said the reports were outdated, and the two psychological evaluations presented for this hearing were very different.
Taylor has often been a thorn in the Department of Corrections’ side, launching a raft of legal battles against it and other Government agencies.
Recently one of his cases set a precedent when the Supreme Court ruled that stopping prisoners from voting – as per current legislation – was inconsistent with the Bill of Rights. The court upheld the declaration of inconsistency first made by the High Court – a New Zealand first.
Taylor’s current sentence was due to end in June 2022, and his next parole hearing was originally scheduled for August.
However, he made a successful application to be seen prior to his next scheduled appearance.
In December, new Parole Board chair Ron Young granted Taylor an early hearing under this section of the Act, saying Taylor had completed all available rehabilitation programmes available to him in prison, and suitable reintegration programmes were only available in the community.
Heal said Taylor had satisfied all the requirements and proved he was “a law-upholder, not a law-breaker”.
As well as having satisfactory psychological reports, he would also do part-time legal services work for John Tamihere’s Waipareira Trust, and had a suitable address.
“I’m relieved for Arthur and I’m grateful to the Parole Board for considering the evidence,” she said.
“People see that Arthur retired from crime a long time ago.”
She said his work representing “the powerless”, in their fights against “the powerful” was pro-social, and proved he was not a risk to society.
A full written decision outlining the board’s reasons for Taylor’s release will be available within the next two weeks.