What is parole?
Any sentences of imprisonment in the ACT with a portion of full-time custody and a minimum term of 12 months must have what is called a non-parole period. The rest of the sentence may be served under parole, so long as it is granted. If a parole application in the ACT is successful, a sentenced individual can serve the end of their sentence in the community (outside of gaol), under supervision.
What is the parole application process?
The parole application process is governed by the Crimes (Sentence Administration) Act 2005 and follows the steps below:
- Submission: The offender must submit a parole application, in writing, to the Sentence Administration Board within 6 months of the end of their non-parole period.
NB: Individuals with exceptional circumstances can apply, in writing, before the 6-month window.
- The inquiry stage: The Board conducts an inquiry into the parole application and will call for reports on the offender from the Corrective Services and invite relevant parties to provide submissions. Relevant material that could be submitted includes reports from a case manager, a letter of acceptance into the NDIS or psychological and drug and alcohol assessments. Submissions may also be provided at this stage by the victims of the offender.
NB: If parole is not able to be granted during the inquiry stage, the Board will organise a hearing into the offender’s application.
- The notice of hearing: the Board may notify the offender, through a Notice of Hearing, about any issues that are concerning them in making their decision. This occurs if the Board does not believe the relevant documents provided in the inquiry stage justify paroling the offender.The offender is then allowed to notify the Board if they want to make a submission about parole or if they wish to appear at the hearing. If this is not done within the given time frame, the board will then refuse the offender’s parole. An offender can make further submissions at the hearing stage.
- The decision: the Board then makes a decision on whether to parole the offender or not. The offender must then consent to the parole conditions before they can be released.
What are potential issues that the board may identify in a Notice of Hearing?
Potential issues may be identified in a Notice of Hearing that prevent the offender from being granted parole. These issues may include:
- An inability by the offender to address offending behavior whilst in custody. This may be identified by noncompliance or incompletion with offence-specific programs.
- Psychological or psychiatric treatment plans are inadequate.
- Testing positive to drug tests whilst in custody.
- Prior history of non-compliance with parole conditions.
- Risks of reoffending are not manageable.
If you are granted parole, what are the conditions?
Parole conditions are unique to every offender and are dependent on numerous factors including the offence, the offender’s ability to rehabilitate in custody and their risk of reoffending. However, there are some general conditions that must be met by all paroled offenders:
- Reporting to the parole officer and notifying them with significant changes such as employment and residency.
- Seeking permission to travel interstate or overseas.
- Obtaining approval for changes to employment and residency.
- Not committing any further criminal offences.
Often, if these conditions are breached, parole may be revoked. When the offender is notified about their parole being revoked, they are given 14 days to provide a written submission outlining why revocation is not necessary. If parole is revoked, a further term of imprisonment may be imposed by the magistrate.