Parole is the release of an offender from custody to serve the balance of their sentence in the community.
The purpose of parole is to supervise and support the reintegration of offenders before the end of their total sentence while providing a continuing measure of protection to the community.
Parole does not mean that offenders are free without supervision. Whilst on parole, the offender is still considered to be under a sentence. Parole is not leniency or a reward for good behaviour, but an extension of the sentence that provides the opportunity to assist and monitor adaptation to a normal, lawful community life.
As a bridge between custody and liberty, 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.
Parole serves the public interest by ensuring offenders are supervised and supported during reintegration, and through reducing the likelihood of recidivism. It provides a more effective way of protecting the public than would a more sudden release of offenders at sentence expiry, without assistance and supervision.
Legislation prescribed that the Parole Authority schedule consideration of an offender's release to parole approximately sixty days prior to their earliest possible release date (otherwise known as their parole eligibility date). Prior to considering an offender's release to parole, the following documents are always made available to the Authority members to assist with their deliberations:
1. Information regarding the offender's custodial behaviour
2. Criminal record
3. Judges Sentencing Remarks
4. Pre Release Report prepared by Community Corrections
Other documents that may be provided include:
5. Submissions from the offender, their family members or legal representative
6. Submissions from the victim/s or family
7. Reports from professionals, such as psychologists or psychiatrists
When considering granting parole to an offender, the Authority must have regard to the legislation which includes things such as:
a) The need to protect the safety of the community,
b) The need to maintain public confidence in the administration of justice,
c) The impact the offender's release may have on the victim/s of crimes,
d) Any relevant comments made by the sentencing court,
e) The offender's circumstances
A broad range of material is taken into account to determine if the offender can be appropriately managed in the community and released to parole.