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Parole reform: Photo of a man with a clipboard knocking on a house door.Parole reform

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    Summary of reform

    The parole system has changed to enable smarter management of parolees to help protect the community.  

    Key changes

    • Community safety is the State Parole Authority’s (SPA) paramount consideration when making parole decisions. The SPA can:
      • Refuse parole if an offender convicted of murder or manslaughter has failed to tell investigators the location of their victim’s remains ('no body, no parole’).
      • Refuse parole for terrorism-related offenders unless it is satisfied that the offender will not engage in, incite or assist others to engage in, terrorist acts or violent extremism. 
      • Reconsider parole for some offenders, to ensure a period of structured supervision on release from prison.
      • Revoke parole if the parolee’s behaviour raises serious and immediate concerns for the safety of the community - even if there has been no breach of their parole conditions. 
    • Supervision is a mandatory condition for all parolees as the evidence shows supervision is the best method of reducing reoffending.
    • Community Corrections Officers have clearer authority to better manage an offender's behaviour by responding to less serious breaches of parole. Serious breaches will continue to be reported to the SPA. 
    • The SPA will soon be able to allow suitable candidates a period of supervised reintegration home detention in the last six months of their non-parole period. 

    Related information

    Rationale

    By improving the way decisions are made about releasing offenders on parole and how they are managed to successfully reintegrate into the community, we will make communities safer and reduce reoffending. 

    This reform builds on recommendations of the NSW Law Reform Commission Parole Report and will help deliver tough and smart justice for safer communities.

    Expected benefits

    The parole reform is expected to:

    • keep registered victims better informed and give them a stronger voice in the parole decision making process
    • reduce reoffending by ensuring all parolees are supervised
    • increase the capacity of the SPA to focus on serious breaches of parole, with Community Corrections empowered to manage less serious breaches.

    How the scheme works in practice

    Community safety is the paramount consideration when making parole decisions

    The SPA can only release an offender on parole if it is satisfied that it is in the interests of community safety. In making this decision consideration is given to the following principal matters:

    • the risk to the safety of members of the community of releasing the offender on parole
    • whether the release of the offender on parole is likely to address the risk of the offender re-offending
    • the risk to community safety of releasing the offender at the end of the sentence without a period of supervised parole, or at a later date with a shorter period of supervised parole.

    In weighing up any benefits and risks, the SPA considers factors such as:

    • the nature and circumstances of the offence committed by the offender
    • the offender's criminal history
    • the likely effect on the victim or the victim's family of an offender being released on parole 
    • the offender's attitude towards their crime and its impact on victims 
    • the offender's behaviour and participation in rehabilitation programs while in prison
    • in the case of murder or manslaughter, whether the offender has cooperated with investigators and disclosed the location of their victim's remains, helping to bring closure to a victim's family 
    • for terrorism-related offenders, whether it is satisfied that the offender will not engage in, incite or assist others to engage in, terrorist acts or violent extremism. 

    A stronger voice for victims 

    Registered victims are being notified by the Corrective Services Victims Register when there are important changes to relevant offender’s circumstances in custody, including when an offender is being consider for parole. All registered victims have the right to make a statement to be considered during the SPA decision making process.

    Flexibility to reconsider parole

    More offenders are being placed under supervision as the SPA has more flexibility to reconsider parole for some offenders. For example, an offender whose parole was revoked due to an alcohol or drugs relapse can be reconsidered for parole once their addiction is back under control.

    Supervision

    Supervision is a mandatory condition of parole. 

    Supervision requires an offender to regularly report to and follow reasonable directions from their Community Corrections Officer.

    Evidence shows that supervision is the best way to reduce reoffending. We have enhanced our management practices based on international best practice to improve supervision. 

    During supervision, officers use cognitive and behavioural interventions to challenge an offender's thinking and behaviour and reduce the risk of them returning to crime. 

    Community Corrections Officers are fully trained and well equipped to manage parolees. They also monitor an offender’s compliance with parole conditions, such as curfews, alcohol and drug testing, ongoing participation in rehabilitation programs or restrictions on where a parolee can go.

    A smarter way of managing parole breaches

    A clearer legal framework has been introduced to better manage parole breaches.

    Community Corrections have clearer authority to impose penalties for less serious parole breaches, such as reporting late or missing a program session. Penalties are targeted at addressing the cause of the breach and can include imposing curfews, or directing an offender to submit to increased reporting or drug and alcohol testing.

    Issues of repeated non-compliance are escalated to the SPA, which can impose more severe sanctions, such as up to 30 days home detention, electronic monitoring or a return to custody.

    A new safeguard also gives the SPA power to revoke parole, if the parolee's behaviour raises serious and immediate concerns for the safety of the community - even if there has been no breach of their parole conditions.

    Reintegration Home Detention Scheme - coming mid-2018

    The final anticipated change to the parole system will be the introduction of a Reintegration Home Detention Scheme. The scheme will give the SPA the option to transition a small number of eligible and suitable offenders to electronically monitored home detention, in the last six months of their non-parole period. This will provide a structured step-down between prison and parole for these offenders. 

    The strict conditions of home detention will require an offender to: remain at home, be electronically monitored, submit to alcohol and drugs testing, and participate in rehabilitation programs, employment or community service if directed.

    Corrective Services NSW will refer offenders to the SPA for consideration in the scheme and the SPA will apply the community safety test when assessing an offender's suitability.

    The scheme will not be available to serious offenders including those serving life sentences, high risk sex or violent offenders, terrorism offenders, child sexual offenders or domestic violence offenders.

    It is anticipated that the scheme will be introduced in mid-2018.

    Juvenile parole framework

    To complement these changes to the adult parole system, a new separate legislative framework for juvenile parole has been introduced. The safety of the community and the successful rehabilitation and reintegration of juvenile offenders are the priority considerations when making juvenile parole decisions. 

    Contact us

    For general enquiries please contact sentencingandparole@justice.nsw.gov.au

    For media enquiries please contact Media and Communications.