What is Parole?
Parole describes the process used to assess offenders who are serving over two years imprisonment to:
Understand their risk on release;
Assess whether they can be released if they are eligible; and
Work to reduce their risk of harm to people in the community if they are released.
How does Parole work?
- Offenders appear before the Board at regular times during their sentence.
- The process aims to manage an offender’s sentence, and help them address their offending to make a positive transition from prison to community. This can include courses and programmes, as well as counselling.
- In some cases, treatment programmes may not be available in prison for a minimum security offender but the Board is able to make such programmes as a recommendation and some progress through some means a requirement of Parole.
How does Parole contribute to community safety?
- Parole allows management of an offender’s sentence, to help them understand and address their offending and transition from prison to community. This can include courses and programmes, as well as counselling.
- Everyone released on parole is given standard release conditions (as are all offenders who are released at the end of their sentences). These cover issues such as:
- reporting to a probation officer with 72 hours.
- maintaining contact with their probation officer.
- living at an address agreed by their probation officer.
- not moving address unless given consent by their probation officer.
- engaging in employment approved by their probation officer.
- not associating with anybody the probation officer or Parole conditions prohibit.
- taking part in rehabilitative and reintegration assessment if directed by the probation officer.
- See Conditions.
Does the Board determine the release of all offenders serving terms of imprisonment?
No. The Parole Board only assesses offenders serving over 24 months with the aim to guide them into taking responsibility for their offending and manage themselves and their environment to not present an undue risk to the community.
If an offender is serving a short-term sentence of two years or less, under the Parole Act 2002 they must be released after serving half of their sentence. They are not seen by the Board but may be subject to release conditions imposed by the court that sentenced them.\
Offenders sentenced under the Parole Act 2002 to a determinate prison term of more than two years (2 years and one day or longer), must be released when they reach their Statutory Release Date (the end of their sentence) - if they have not been granted parole before this date. They become eligible for parole after serving one third of their sentence. If they have reached their Statutory Release Date, the Board's only role is to set conditions for release.
Does anybody serve the full term they are sentenced to?
- Under the Parole Act 2002, offenders serving long-term determinate sentences (more than two years) become eligible to be considered for parole after one third of their sentences but they can serve the full term if not paroled.
- Offenders who have been convicted of a qualifying sexual or violent offence and who are deemed to pose a significant and ongoing risk to the safety of the community can receive preventative detention and may serve longer sentences than their orginal sentence.
So do offenders apply for Parole?
- Offenders do not normally apply for parole, they become eligible for it, on their Parole Eligibility Date (PED). See Parole Eligibility.
- A very small number do apply for an early hearing after they have passed their Parole Eligibility Date (PED), and if they believe they have had a significant change in their circumstances or their conditions and have progressed in their addressing of their offending and their transition from prison to community .
What is a Parole Eligibility Date?
- Offenders sentenced to more than 2 years imprisonment under the 2002 legislation are eligible for parole after serving a third of their sentence, unless they were given a longer minimum non-parole period by the sentencing court.
- Offenders sentenced to preventive detention (no specified sentence length) become eligible for parole after serving a minimum period of imprisonment, which is at least five years.
- Offenders sentenced to life imprisonment normally become eligible for parole after serving a minimum of 10 years imprisonment.
- Offenders serving less than 2 years imprisonment under the 2002 legislation do not have PEDs (they are released when they have served half their sentences).
Can the Board impose other conditions?
- Yes. A range of special conditions can be imposed at the Board’s discretion, covering areas such as:
- borader regional geographical prohibitions or specifications for the offender
- criminogenic programmes (focussing on issues such as propensity for violence, motivation for offending)
- psychological counselling
- alcohol and drug assessment
- anger management .
What about offenders sent to prison under the previous legislation (the Criminal Justice Act 1985)?
- Offenders serving an indeterminate sentence become eligible for parole after serving 10 years.
- Offenders with a minimum non-parole period, become eligible after serving that minimum period.
- Offenders given more than a 12-month sentence, but not classified as” Serious Violent Offenders”, become eligible after serving one-third of their sentences.
- Offenders classified as “Serious Violent Offenders”, and sentenced to a determinate sentence, must be released after serving two thirds of their sentences.
What is the Victim Notification Register?
- Victims of certain serious crimes can apply to the Police for inclusion on the Victim Notification system. This is administered by the Department of Corrections, but the Board is responsible for notifying registered victims of Board hearings and decisions.
- Under the Victims’ Rights Act 2002, victims of the following offences may apply to be on the Victim Notification system.
- sexual violation or other serious assault
- an offence resulting in serious injury
- an offence rendering the victim incapable
- an offence resulting in the death of an immediate family member
- any offence leading the victim to having ongoing fears for their physical safety or security, or for the physical safety or security of one or more members of their immediate family.
How do victims know there is going to be a hearing?
- Victims on the Victim Notification Register will be informed of the date of hearings and can make oral or written submissions. This is the responsibility of the Board.
Can victims make submissions to the Board before a hearing?
- Yes. When registered victims are notified of an upcoming hearing, they will be invited to make a submission. This can be a written submission, or they can request a meeting with the Board members conducting the hearing. See Information for Victims.
Can offenders and victims attend hearings at the same time?
What if an offender released on parole doesn’t adhere to their Parole conditions?
- They can be recalled to continue serving their sentence in prison.
- It is also a criminal offence for an offender to breach their release conditions.
What if they commit an offence while on Parole?
- If it is an offence punishable by imprisonment, they can also be recalled to continue serving their original sentence in prison.
How long do offenders face the prospect of recall?
- For as long as they’re on parole.
- For offenders given indeterminate sentences (preventive detention or life), parole conditions last for life.
- For offenders given determinate (fixed-term) sentences under the Parole Act 2002 parole conditions can last up to a maximum of 6 months after their Statutory Release Date (the end of their sentence).