The roles and responsibilities of the Parole Board
Applications for release
The board makes orders for the release of prisoners serving a term of imprisonment of 12 months or more, but less than five years. These prisoners are released automatically to parole.
There are some prisoners that are excluded from receiving automatic parole and must apply to the Parole Board for release. This includes prisoners sentenced for sexual offences, violent offences or offences involving firearms or arson.
The board considers applications for release on parole from:
- Prisoners serving sentences of imprisonment of five years or more
- Prisoners sentenced to imprisonment for offences that are excluded from automatic parole
- Prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment.
Special provisions apply to these prisoners as follows:
- The ‘no body; no parole’ law: The Board must not release a life sentenced prisoner on parole unless the Board is satisfied that the prisoner has satisfactorily cooperated in the investigation of the offence
- In the event the Board makes a decision to release a life sentenced prisoner on parole, the following people can seek a review of the decision during a ‘review period’:
- The Attorney-General
- The Commissioner of Police
- The Commissioner for Victims' Rights
- If a review is not lodged, the prisoner is released on parole subject to the conditions determined by the Parole Board
- If an application for review of the Parole Board’s decision is lodged, the Parole Administrative Review Commissioner (PARC) undertakes the review; the PARC can affirm or vary the decision of the Parole Board, or the PARC can make a new decision, or send the matter back to the Parole Board with directions or recommendations.
The current PARC is retired Supreme Court Judge the Honourable David Bleby QC.
- If a life sentenced prisoner is released to parole they are on parole for the rest of their life
- The Parole Board can also assist with the preparation for the transition back into the community – they may impose a condition of parole that a life sentenced prisoner should reside at a low security prison for a period of time before release.
The paramount consideration of the board when determining an application for the release of a prisoner on parole must be the safety of the community.