Daniella BOWMEN - 23/02/2018
Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002
Daniella Kohuroa BOWMEN
Hearing: 8 February 2018
at Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility
Date of Reserved Decision: 23 February 2018
Members of the Board:
- Hon M A Frater – Panel Convenor
- Dr J Skipworth
- Mr A Hackney
Counsel: Ms S Earl
RESERVED DECISION OF THE BOARD
- Daniella Kohuroa Bowmen, aged 36, is serving a life sentence of imprisonment for murder. She committed this crime on 1 April 1999 and was sentenced on 16 February 2000.
- During the past 18 years she has spent only six months in the community.
- She was recalled in August 2014 and since then has been endeavouring to work towards re-release. That has been a rollercoaster ride. She has been very close to release on several occasions, only to behave in a way which causes her to regress. That last happened in April 2017 when she was stood down from her employment at [withheld] for an inappropriate relationship with a female colleague.
- Because, at the end of the hearing on 8 February last, we doubted that Ms Bowmen was being open and honest with us about another relationship, we reserved our decision pending the receipt of further information. It is now to hand.
- In preparation for the hearing, we noticed that although the Offender Details Report, dated 19 January, showed that Ms Bowmen was housed in self-care, other information on the file suggested that she may no longer be there, and, on questioning, she volunteered that she had moved back to the employment hub. As noted in our interim decision of 8 February, she told us that she had elected to move back to the employment hub because she felt targeted by certain officers in the self-care unit and treated differently from others there. She was asked specifically whether she was in a relationship and she denied that she was. It seems that that was not correct, or at least, not the full answer.
- A memorandum from a residential manager to the prison director states that: “Ms Bowmen was moved out of self-care unit to the employment hub due to her inappropriate behaviour with another prisoner.”
- In response, Ms Bowmen advised, through her counsel, that: “She voluntarily moved from the self-care unit back to the employment hub when staff indicated that they were not happy that she was moving between houses in self-care after forming a new relationship. She advises that she is no longer in that relationship because she realised that it could jeopardise her future.”
- We accept that Ms Bowmen volunteered to go from self-care, rather than be exited. We also accept that she has not been charged with a misconduct as a result.
- Inappropriate relationships have long been an issue for Ms Bowmen. The psychological report dated 20 December 2017 states that: “Ms Bowmen’s engagement in potentially destructive intimate relationships as a means of managing her emotions remains an overarching risk factor for her, regardless of the context she finds herself in.”
- It seems that, in the context of such a relationship, she supresses her otherwise good insight into her functioning. The psychologist warns that this could impact on her progress, including her response to supervision and engagement with supports. And this seems to be what has happened in this case. She did not think of the consequences of her actions. As she has done so many times before, she self-sabotaged. She realised too late that it was not a good thing to be getting into another relationship and, it would seem, only after she was warned by officers, took steps to extricate herself from it. And even then, she was not open and honest about it with the Board. This undermines our confidence in her ability to be honest with her supporters, including her probation officer and staff at [withheld] and undermines the otherwise good progress she has made.
- In the circumstances, there is no question of releasing her on parole. It is declined.
- Ms Bowmen’s next hearing will be in August 2018 and must be held before the end of that month, at the latest.
- We support Ms Bowmen’s continued participation in release to work at [withheld] and guided releases to her supporters, and particularly to [withheld], in the meantime. No promises are made as to the outcome of the next hearing.
- In conclusion, we note that it might not have been necessary to reserve this decision if the prison officer accompanying Ms Bowmen to the hearing had been cognisant of the whole situation and alerted the Board, at the outset, to the very recent developments, or had, at least, been able to answer our questions knowledgeably. It is not sufficient for the officer to advise that there have been no issues in the current unit, without explaining the reason for the change. Alternatively, we might have expected counsel to have apprised us of the situation, in her opening.
Hon M A Frater