Parole is the supervised and supported reintegration of offenders in the community prior to their total sentence expiring, while also providing a continuing measure of protection to the community.
Parole does not mean that offenders are free, as an offender is still considered to be subject to their sentence. Release to parole is not leniency or a reward for good behaviour, but an extension of the sentence that provides the opportunity to assist and monitor an offender’s adaption to a normal, lawful community life.
Parole serves the public interest by ensuring offenders are supervised and supported during reintegration, and reduces the likelihood of recidivism. It provides a more effective way of protecting the public than would a more sudden release of an offender at sentence expiry, without assistance and supervision.
As a bridge between custody and liberty in the community, parole is a form of conditional release that involves a thorough review of information and assessment of risk. Parolees must abide by the conditions of their release. If the conditions of parole are not met, parole may be revoked and the offender returned to custody.
Community Corrections are responsible for the supervision of parolees in New South Wales.
A breach of parole occurs when an offender breaks any of the conditions of their parole order, whether issued by the court or by the State Parole Authority. All breaches of parole are considered by the State Parole Authority.
The Authority is usually notified of breaches of parole through reports prepared by Community Corrections. The report outlines the breach of parole conditions, the parolee’s response to supervision and a recommendation as to the type of action Community Corrections believe is appropriate for the Parole Authority to take.
Breaches may include failing to report within a specified time frame, continued drug use, leaving the State without permission, committing further offences or failing to comply with specific conditions or directions of the Officer.
The Authority can make a limited number of decisions in response to a breach of parole. Some of these are legislated and some are utilised by the Authority in order to provide some “middle ground” between no action and returning an offender to custody.
The options available to the Authority are: