Parole orders are used to prevent a defendant from reoffending in the community and to protect the safety of the community. A parole order allows a defendant to be supervised in the community for the duration of the order by the Department of Corrective Services who can impose conditions on where and how they live.
When a person has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment in Queensland that is not wholly or partly suspended, the court will fix either a parole release date or a parole eligibility. These are the two types of parole orders – court-ordered parole and board-ordered parole.
If the court fixes a parole release date at sentence, that allows for the fixed date of release for that defendant from custody. They will then be supervised in the community for the remainder of their sentence. A parole release date can be fixed as at the day of sentence, allowing a defendant to serve their entire sentence in the community, although subject to the supervision of parole.
A parole release date will be set by a court if the sentence imposed is three years or less, is not imposed for a sexual offence and the defendant is not otherwise subject to parole.
The defendant will be released from custody on that date unless they are otherwise charged with an offence or their parole order is otherwise suspended. They are required to report to their supervising officer within 24 hours of their release and will be required to comply with all conditions of their order.
If a defendant is sentenced for a sexual offence, an offence committed while already subject to parole, or to a period of imprisonment of more than 3 years, the court can only fix a parole eligibility date at sentence.
This is not a set date for release and it is up to the parole board as to when the defendant is released from custody once that date is reached.
The defendant will need to apply for parole while still in custody. They can make the application 6 months before their parole eligibility date. It is generally of assistance if they can produce a plan for their release, including offers of employment, confirmation of accommodation (this will be checked) and support letters.
The parole board will then decide when to grant parole, and what conditions they will impose upon that person when they are released.
If the court does not set a fixed parole eligible date, the defendant can apply to the Parole Board after serving half of their sentence. However, if they are serving a life sentence or a sentence where a serious violent offence declaration was made, they must serve 80% of their sentence before they are eligible for release on board ordered parole.
The Parole Board will review parole applications within 180 days. If the Board needs further information, it can take up to 210 days to consider the application.
What will the Parole Board consider?
When granting parole to offenders, the most important consideration is the safety of the community. When reviewing an application for parole, the Parole Board will consider a number of factors, including:
- Any previous criminal history
- Likelihood of re-offending
- Whether there has been a conviction for a serious sexual offence or serious violent offence
- Recommendations for parole, parole eligibility date or any other comment that were made by sentencing court
- Offender’s behaviour whilst they have been in prison
- Any medical, psychological or other risk assessment reports
- Any submissions made to the Board by a victim
- Offender’s previous compliance and cooperation with any other community based release, community service, work programs or resettlement leave program
- If there are any support and services that may help to reduce any risk to the community
- Any recommended rehabilitation programs or interventions
Conditions of Parole in Queensland
An offender that has been granted parole, must comply with all conditions outlined in their parole order. The mandatory conditions that attach to every parole order are:
- Must report as directed to their supervising office
- Carry out the lawful instructions issued by their supervising officer
- Give a test sample if required
- Notify of any change of address or employment details
- Not to commit an offence
The Board can also add conditions they reasonably consider necessary to reduce any risk of reoffending and protect the community.
What if I Breach my Parole?
If you breach a condition of your order, your Parole Officer have the power to amend your order either by changing, adding or removing conditions. Otherwise, they may also suspend your parole order. In this case, a warrant will issue for your arrest and you will be returned to custody.
Your parole order can also be suspended if you are considered to pose a serious risk or harm to someone else, a unacceptable risk of committing an offence, are preparing to leave the State or have been charged with committing further offence/s.
The decision to suspend your parole order will be considered by the Board and if confirmed, you will received an information notice that will include confirmation your order has been suspended, the reasons for the suspension and ask that you show cause.
You will then need to respond to the show cause notice and the Board will decide if and when they will grant you parole and what conditions will be imposed to that order.
If you have breached your parole by committing a further offence, it is likely the Board will not determine the show cause application until after your court maters are finalised. If you are sentenced to a further period of imprisonment for offences committed while on parole, your parole order will be automatically cancelled and you will need to re-apply for parole on all matters.
This post contains general advice only and is not intended as legal advice.