The Board considers the cases of offenders who are:
The Board’s work concerns offenders serving long-term sentences of imprisonment. Long-term sentences are those where the offender:
The Parole Act 2002 came into force on 30 June 2002.
Offenders sentenced to life imprisonment or to preventive detention are considered to be serving long-term sentences.
Offenders serving a short-term sentence of imprisonment are not seen by the Board. These offenders are required by law to be released after serving half their sentence.
On 1 October 2007 there was a change in the law regarding home detention. Offenders who were sentenced to a short-term sentence before 1 October 2007, and who were given leave to apply for home detention by the Judge that sentenced them, could continue to make an application to the Board to be considered for home detention.
However offenders sentenced on or after 1 October 2007 are not able to apply to the Board for home detention. Home detention is now a separate sentencing option for the courts and not a consideration for the Board.
More information about the law changes is available in the ‘Law changes on 1 October 2007’ area of this website.
The Parole Act 2002 sets out when an offender must be seen by the Board and what processes the Board must follow in conducting hearings. Under the Parole Act:
Eligibility for parole is no guarantee of release – it simply means an offender is entitled to appear before the Board. Under the Parole Act 2002 offenders can be kept in prison to serve their entire sentences, or until the Board is satisfied they no longer pose an undue risk to the safety of the community.
Offenders who were sentenced under the Criminal Justice Act 1985 are still subject to that legislation. (Note that under this Act a long-term sentence is 1 year or more).
Parole is when an offender is released from prison to serve the remainder of their sentence in the community on conditions, supervised by the Department of Corrections' Community Probation and Psychological Service. The conditions of release are detailed elsewhere on this website.
The Board may not release an offender on parole unless it is satisfied that the offender does not pose an undue risk to the safety of the community. There is more about risk assessment in the ‘Functions and Guiding Principles’ area of this website.
An offender does not "apply" for parole but becomes eligible to be considered for release on parole after they have served an amount of time (specified by law) in prison. The Board is required by law to consider an offender for parole at least once in every 12 months after they become eligible. The offender may be seen sooner than the 12 month period if:
If granted parole, an offender will be released on standard and special conditions and may be recalled to prison if these conditions are not followed.
Parole (early referral) - offenders may apply to the Chairperson of the Board for an early referral for a hearing before they would normally become eligible. Under section 25 of the Parole Act 2002, they must cite "exceptional circumstances" with the Chairperson having the discretion to refer the matter to a Board to consider.
Postponement Orders can be made when the Board considers an offender will not be suitable for release on parole at the next scheduled hearing. Their next parole hearing can be postponed for up to three years, depending on the type of sentence they are serving.
Post-release progress hearings can be held if the Board thinks it will be necessary to monitor how well the offender is complying with their release conditions. There is more about this in the ‘Release and recall’ area of this website.
Release at Statutory Release Date - If the Board is hearing a case for the release of an offender on the date at which they must (by law) be released then the Board's only role is to set their conditions of release.
Compassionate Release - On referral from the Chairperson, the Board considers applications for compassionate release from offenders who are either seriously ill and unlikely to recover, or who have recently given birth to a child. If granted compassionate release, an offender will be subject to release conditions and may be recalled to prison if these conditions are not followed.
Variation and Discharge applications occur when an offender or a probation officer applies to the Board for the conditions of the offender’s release to be changed. These applications include any applications received for the imposition of special conditions for Extended Supervision Orders.
Recalls - The Board considers applications for the recall of offenders (who have already been released) to continue serving their sentences in prison. This can happen when an offender fails to comply with the conditions of their release and on a number of other grounds. An application for recall can be made by the offender’s Probation Officer, the Chief Executive of the Department of Corrections (for offenders sentenced to life imprisonment or preventative detainees) or by the Commissioner of Police.
Review of Board Decisions occurs when an offender applies to have the decision made at their Board hearing reviewed. This application must be made in writing within 28 days of the decision.
The grounds for a review are that the Board:
Extended Supervision Orders – Setting of Conditions. The Department of Corrections is able to apply to court for intensive supervision of eligible offenders convicted of certain sexual offences, for up to 10 years after they have been released from prison. If an order is granted by the court, the Department may then apply to the Board for special conditions to be imposed. These can include:
Release at Final Release Date – is applicable to offenders sentenced before 30 June 2002. The Board must release these offenders at their Final Release Date and impose conditions on their release, unless an order under s107 (see below) of the Parole Act 2002 has been applied for or made.
Section 107 Orders can be made when the Department of Corrections applies to the Board to have an offender, sentenced before 30 June 2002, kept in prison beyond their Final Release Date (two-thirds of their sentence). The Board must be satisfied that the offender will commit a specified offence between the final release date (see above) and the applicable release date (the date on which the offender can no longer be kept in prison).
Section 107 Reviews
If the Board makes an order under s107 of the Parole Act 2002 it must be reviewed at least once every 6 months.