A brief guide for offenders on what happens before, during and after a hearing with the New Zealand Parole Board.
Hearings are conducted in the manner of an enquiry.
There is no set length of time for a hearing. Sometimes they can be quite short, but generally they are about half an hour. The length depends on what needs to be explored and who is present. Hearings are held either in the prison, or by video link, with the offender, Corrections staff, supporters and lawyer (with prior Board permission). Victims do not attend offender hearings.
Hearings can also be unattended. This is where the offender is not present, but a hearing is still conducted.
An offender is able to waive their right to attend their hearing but must do this in writing. Even if the offender waives their appearance, the hearing itself will continue as unattended. The offender can still make a written submission.
The Board decides who will attend hearings and who will speak. The Board does allow media representatives to attend some hearings and report on proceedings.
It is important to note, that when the Board is deliberating only the members and the Board's administrator are present in the hearing room. All other persons, including the offender, must leave.
Anyone can make a written submission to the Board about an offender.
Anyone who wishes to make a submission about a specific offender, supportive or not, can at any time.
A written submission should be brief, written on one side of the paper only, and written or typed clearly.
Involvement of supporters
Offenders are generally entitled to have up to three supporters at a hearing. This can include family, friends or a lawyer. Supporters have to be over 16. Permission is needed in advance from the Board.
Even if the Board allows an offender to have supporters at the hearing, the prison manager must also approve entry to the prison.
The Board may ask supporters questions during the hearing.
If an offender needs to have an interpreter at the hearing they need to advise their Case Officer in advance so one can be arranged.
In most cases if an offender wants to be represented by their lawyer at a hearing they need to write to the Board asking for permission. The letter needs to say why they think their lawyer should be there.
At some hearings the offender is entitled to legal representation without a request having to be made (although the offender must still advise the Board their lawyer is attending).
These cases include:
The offender will need to check with their lawyer to find out whether representation at the hearing may be covered by legal aid. It is the offender's responsibility to ensure their lawyer knows the date, time and place of their hearing. This cost is not met by the Board.