Contributed by AndrewRobson and current to 27 July 2018

Parole is the conditional release of prisoners who have already served part of their sentence. It means prisoners can serve the remainder of their sentence in the community under the supervision of a community corrections officer.

If the parole period is completed satisfactorily, the remainder of the sentence is cancelled.

Parole terms are regulated by the Sentence Administration Act 2003 (Part 3) and the Sentencing Act (Part 13 Division 3) and are administered by a Parole Board and not the Court. Section 89(4) of the Sentencing Act provides that a court may decide not to make a parole eligibility order if at least 1 of the 4 listed factors exists. Those factors are:
  • that the offence is serious;
  • that the offender has a significant criminal record;
  • that the offender failed to comply with the terms of a release order; or
  • any reason the court considers relevant.

Applications for parole

A prisoner eligible for parole may apply for parole once he or she has served 50% of their sentence (where the sentence is for 4 years or less) or, where the sentence is for more than 4 years, 2 years prior to the end of that sentence.

Applications for parole are made to the Parole Board. The Board is an administrative body, constituted under the Sentence Administration Act, which deals with the parole of prisoners, including release on parole, conditions of parole and revocation of parole orders.

In assessing a prisoner for parole release, the Board may look at the nature and circumstances of the offence, any risk the prisoner’s release may present to the community or a person, reports from the Department’s Offender Management Division outlining behaviour in prison, and the types of personal development programs undertaken by the prisoner.

Prisoners serving life imprisonment or strict custody are only eligible for parole with the approval of the Governor of Western Australia. Parole orders include several conditions such as instructing parolees when to report and stating that they must not leave the State or change address or employment without the permission of a community corrections officer. The Board can also order a parolee to undertake such things as counselling, and drug or alcohol treatment, or to stay away from the victim of their offence.

When applying for parole, a prisoner should include:
  • an explanation as to what led to your imprisonment;
  • information about family/friend support;
  • past education and work history;
  • any past drug or alcohol problems;
  • health and recreational activities;
  • reflection upon how the offending impacted upon the victim;
  • how they have tried to assess their behavior and make changes;
  • how their past contributed to the offending behavior;
  • how they will change when they leave prison;
  • their activities in prison, including educational, work and recreational;
  • information about their interactions with others in prison;
  • their immediate and long-term goals;
  • their main concerns when leaving prison;
  • how they will deal with past and future problems;
  • future employment, accommodation and education opportunities;
  • plans to continue treatment programs; and
  • references from others, such as prospective employers or a letter confirming accommodation.

Parole in short terms of imprisonment

If a prisoner, serving no more than 12 months’ imprisonment, has already served half of their term the Prisoners Review Board may grant the prisoner parole. To do so the term(s) of imprisonment must not be prescribed nor a term that a parole eligibility order has already been made for.

The Prisoners Review Board must look at:
  • the release considerations of the prisoner; and
  • any report made by the chief executive officer; and
  • any other information about the prisoner brought to its attention.

Post-sentence Supervision Orders

Prior to a prisoner’s release, the Parole Board must consider whether a post-sentence supervision order should be made. This order requires the offender to:
  • report to a community corrections centre within 72 hours after being released, or as otherwise directed;
  • notify a community corrections officer of any change of address or place of employment within 2 clear working days after the change; and
  • comply with the lawful orders or directions of any community corrections officer.
The order can also include other requirements, depending on what the Parole Board deems fit, these include:
  • a requirement relating to where the offender must live;
  • requirements relating to victim protection;
  • a requirement that the offender must wear any device for monitoring purposes;
  • a requirement that a device is installed at the offender’s place for monitoring purposes;
  • a requirement that the offender must not leave Western Australia;
  • requirements relating to the offender’s rehabilitation;
  • a requirement of the offender to perform a certain amount of community correction activities; and
  • a requirement that the offender must seek/engage in gainful employment or in vocational training.
An offender who contravenes an above order will be charged with an offence and liable to up to 3 years imprisonment.

Release from sentences of imprisonment for federal offences

If a sentence for a federal offence is over 3 years then the sentencing court will make an order specifying when the person will become eligible for parole (s19AB Crimes Act 1914 (Cth)). The decision whether to release a federal offender is made by the Commonwealth Attorney General or the delegate of the Attorney General.

If a sentence for a federal offence in 3 years or less then the sentencing court will make a recognizance release order which is the an order that a person be released from prison after a specified period of time on an undertaking to comply with the conditions of the order (s19AC Crimes Act 1914 (Cth)).

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