Golden handshake deal … outgoing prisons boss Ron Woodham has ben appointed to the state’s parole board.THE outgoing prisons boss, Ron Woodham, has been appointed to the state’s parole board as part of a golden handshake deal with the O’Farrell government for him to step aside after a decade as the Corrective Services Commissioner.
The appointment of Mr Woodham to a three-year tenure on the board after more than four decades in the prisons system has angered civil libertarians who say he could not possibly bring the required objectivity to the role.
The president of the Council of Civil Liberties, Cameron Murphy, said Mr Woodham was a ”fair-minded person” but would be unable to avoid a ”perception of bias” in assessing prisoners’ suitability to walk free when he had been responsible for their incarceration and may have dealt with them personally.
Mr Woodham rejected that, saying yesterday, saying that any suggestion of partiality was ridiculous.
Mr Woodham’s appointment was not announced by the Attorney-General, Greg Smith, last week when he revealed South Australian prisons reformer Peter Severin as the new commissioner.
Instead, it was gazetted on Friday, in a short notice saying he would serve until June 2015.
The Premier, Barry O’Farrell, has personally overseen Mr Woodham’s departure, with his department boss Chris Eccles leading negotiations.
A government source said it was believed Mr Woodham would be given a second directorship with a government entity.
The Premier has been keen to smooth the way for Mr Woodham after broadcaster Ray Hadley blasted Mr Smith for his treatment of Mr Woodham and his alleged ”soft on crime” approach to bail and reducing the prison population.
Mr Hadley is a friend of Mr Woodham and has recently spent months filming a documentary inside Goulburn’s Supermax jail.
Mr Smith said the government was ”delighted” Mr Woodham had agreed to serve on the parole board.
”I believe his experience will be invaluable,” he said.
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