State Parole Authority

Serious Offenders and Parole Refusals

The decision making process for considering parole for a serious offender is the same as non-serious offenders, however, the Authority also require the advice of the Serious Offenders Review Council (SORC) before making any decisions.

Section 135(5) of the Act states, except in exceptional circumstances, the parole authority must not make a parole order for a serious offender unless the review council (SORC) advises that it is appropriate for the offender to be considered for release on parole.

In the event that SORC advise that release to parole is not appropriate and the Parole Authority have also determined that release to parole is not appropriate, the Authority form an intention to refuse parole. As with all decisions the reasons for intending to refuse parole must be recorded.

Again, similarly to a non-serious offender being refused parole, after determining an intention to refuse parole, the Authority determine whether the offender should automatically be granted a public review hearing, or whether the offender is required to convince the Authority, by way of an application, that a review hearing should be held.

When an intention is made to refuse an offender parole, they are provided with the documents the Authority relied upon in making their decision. They also receive information that outlines why the Authority formed an intention against release to parole, with reference to the legislation outlining the general duty of the Parole Authority.

If the Authority has determined that an offender needs to apply for a review hearing, a document is sent to the offender explaining this information. The offender is then asked to complete the application and provide reasons as to why a review hearing is appropriate, alternatively, acknowledging that they are not seeking a review hearing and understand their parole will be refused. This completed form is then returned back to the Authority for consideration in a private meeting.

In the event that an offender does not seek a review hearing or a review hearing is not granted, and more than 12 months remains on the sentence, an offender can apply for release to parole on their anniversary date, sometimes called an annual review date. 
In circumstances where the Serious Offenders Review Council have provided advice against releasing the offender, an application for a review hearing needs to demonstrate that exceptional circumstances exist to facilitate consideration of the offender’s release.
In rare cases, the Authority holds review hearings for offenders where an intention to refuse parole decision has been made.
As with intention to grant hearings, both the State and registered victims are notified of the hearing and can provide the Authority with submissions regarding the release to parole of the offender.

After considering all submissions, the Authority can maintain their view that parole should be refused and the intention to refuse parole becomes a parole refusal, with the associated reasons amended or added to.

Alternatively, if the Authority required further information the matter would be stood over, and, if the Authority believed that release to parole was appropriate, an order granting parole would be made with the appropriate conditions and reasons highlighted, according to the legislation.