Parole – How Does It Work?
The article Parole – How Does It Work? is written by Kristina Kothrakis, Partner, Accredited Criminal Law Specialist, Doogue + George Defence Lawyers.
Kristina is a solicitor advocate with an exceptional practice in the appellant jurisdiction. She has won numerous conviction and sentence appeals both in the County Courts and Court of Appeals.
Apart from her law degree, Kristina also has a Bachelor of Science with a major in Psychology (and a minor in Chemistry). This has proven notably useful when dealing with clients who suffer from mental health issues. Kristina is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Criminal Law Section of LIV and was a Recommended Lawyer in the Doyles Guide 2020.
Parole is a word that conjures up visions of freedom, hope for others and dread for more than a few.
Parole is that part of a convicted person’s prison sentence that allows the prisoner to serve part of their sentence in the community.
It is, in fact, a conditional release from prison, under certain conditions and supervision.
The concept of parole is a mechanism whereby a prisoner who has complied with rehabilitation programs throughout their incarceration is permitted to leave prison early with stringent, if not onerous, conditions governed by a government authority: the Adult Parole Board of Victoria.
One of the primary aims of parole is to increase the safety of the community by observing how the prisoner reintegrates back into society; for the parolee is still regarded as undergoing a sentence of imprisonment, until the expiry of the maximum sentence given by the Court and they are released from parole.
Parole is not granted automatically, and a prisoner must make application to be considered for release on parole.
Once a prisoner applies for parole, their Corrections Victoria prison officer case manager, the prison’s Assessment Transition Coordinator and the Case Management Review Committee, prepare a report for the Adult Parole Board in relation to all aspects of the prisoner’s incarceration, including participation in rehabilitation programs. In addition, the prisoner’s parole officer prepares what is known as a Parole Suitability Assessment, which includes a visit from the parole officer to the prisoner’s designated living abode, recommending what appropriate conditions the ‘Parole Order’ should contain. Other information may be obtained from Victoria Police and, in some instances, from victims of the prisoner’s crime.
Once a prisoner is granted parole, they will come under the supervision of a Corrections Victoria parole officer who has the authority to visit the parolee at home, instruct them to undergo a drug or alcohol test, and direct them to undertake community work.
Regular attendance at the parole office is required and reports are prepared on the progress, or otherwise, of the parolee.
Should the behaviour of the parolee be considered to be in non-compliance of the parole conditions, the Board has the authority to issue a warrant for Victoria Police to arrest the parolee and return them to prison.
Functions of the Adult Parole Board of Victoria can be viewed in the Corrections Act 1986. Section 73A of the Act specifies that the safety and protection of the community must be the Board’s specific aim.
Points of Interest
Victoria Police has involvement in assisting the Board in its decision on a parole application by a prisoner.
The majority of parolees do not reoffend during the period of parole.
History of Parole in Victoria
The Indeterminate Sentencing Act 1907 saw the formation of the first Parole Board in Victoria, known as the ‘Indeterminate Sentencing Board’ and only evolved to a form of the current system in 1957.
The Penal Reform Act 1956 established the Victorian Adult Parole Board, sitting for the first time at the old Treasury Building in Spring Street, Melbourne in July 1957.
The Adult Parole Board of Victoria must, by law, include 10 core conditions on every parole order. Other conditions can be added as the Board sees fit.
The 10 conditions are:
- You must not break any law.
- You must report to the Community Corrections Centre specified in this order within two clear working days after this order comes into force.
- You must notify a Community Corrections Officer of any change of address at least two clear working days before the change of address.
- You must notify a Community Corrections Officer of any change of employment at least two clear working days before the change of employment.
- You are under the supervision of a Community Corrections Order.
- You must report to and receive visits from a Community Corrections Officer as and when directed by a Community Corrections Officer.
- You must be available for an interview by a Community Corrections Officer, the Regional Manager or the Adult Parole Board at the time and place as directed by the Community Corrections Officer or the Regional Manager or Adult Parole Board.
- You must attend in person at a Community Corrections Centre as directed in writing by a Community Corrections Officer.
- You must not leave Victoria except with the written permission, granted either generally or in a particular case of the Regional Manager/Adult parole Board.
- You must comply with any direction given by a Community Corrections Officer or the Regional Manager or the Adult Parole Board that is necessary for a Community Corrections Officer or the Regional Manager or the Adult Parole Board to give to ensure you comply with this order.
Other discretionary conditions as the Board sees fit:
- Alcohol abstinence
- Drug testing
- Residential restrictions
- Geographical restriction prohibiting entry into specified areas
- Victim contact restrictions
- Participation in rehabilitation programs
- Community Work
- Electronic monitoring – both geographical and alcohol consumption
The first three months of a prisoner’s parole is called the ‘intensive parole period’, where the parolee is more closely monitored and supervised by Corrections Victoria Community Correctional Services (CCS).
Should a parolee breach their conditions serious enough to warrant a return to prison, none of the time spent on parole, even if it is several years, counts towards their full sentence; unless the Adult Parole Board directs otherwise.
It is interesting, if not concerning, to know that the Adult Parole Board of Victoria is not subject to the rules of ‘Natural Justice’.
The Board’s determinations have no appeal processes, nor avenues of review that a parolee can seek redress from, apart from requesting the Board to review its own decision.
Interstate Transfer of Parole
Parole, under certain circumstances, may be transferred to another State if sanctioned by the Victorian Minister for Corrections.
Under the Children, Youth and families Act 2005, the Adult Parole Board of Victoria has the jurisdiction to transfer inmates under 21 years of age who have been sentenced to prison, to a secure Youth Justice Facility.
Section 442 of the Act saw the establishment of the Youth Parole Board, with the supervision, when on parole, conducted by ‘Parole Workers’, at Regional Youth Justice Centres.