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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

    Changes to the parole system are enabling 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 now:
      • 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.
    • The SPA will soon be able to:
      • Revoke parole if the parolee’s conduct raises serious and immediate concerns about community safety, even if there has been no breach of their parole conditions. 
      • Allow suitable candidates a period of supervised reintegration home detention in the last six months of their non-parole period. 
    • Supervision will be a mandatory condition for all parolees as the evidence shows supervision is the best method of reducing reoffending.
    • Community Corrections Officers will have clearer authority to better manage an offender's behaviour by immediately responding to less serious breaches of parole. Serious breaches will continue to be reported to the SPA. 

    Related information

    Rationale

    By improving the way decisions are made about releasing offenders on parole and how they are supervised and managed to transition back to law abiding lives, 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:

    • details of the offender's behaviour and participation in rehabilitation programs while in prison, as an indication of their potential to return to lawful behaviour
    • the offender's attitude towards their crime and its impact on victims, as an indication of whether they have taken responsibility for their actions
    • the ongoing impact of the offender's crimes on victims and their families
    • 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 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 now 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 within the existing 12 month administrative cap. For example, an offender whose parole was revoked due to an alcohol or drugs relapse will be able to be reconsidered for parole once their addiction is back under control.

    Supervision

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

    Under the reforms, supervision will be a mandatory condition. Evidence shows that combined with interventions, supervision is the best way to reduce reoffending. New guidelines, based on international best practice, have been implemented to improve supervision. 

    During supervision, officers use cognitive and behavioural interventions to address the risk that the offender will return to crime. 

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

    More than 200 new officers are being recruited to boost capacity to reduce reoffending.

    Reintegration Home Detention Scheme

    There will be new options for the SPA to transition a small number of 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, drugs tested, and participate in rehabilitation programs, employment or community service.

    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. 

    A smarter way of managing parole breaches

    A clearer legal framework will be introduced to better manage parole breaches.

    Community Corrections will have clearer authority to impose sanctions for lower level parole breaches, such as reporting late or missing a program session. Penalties will include options such as curfews, increased reporting and drug and alcohol testing.

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

    New safeguards will also give the SPA power to revoke an offender's parole, regardless of whether a breach has been committed, if there is evidence of a serious and immediate risk to victims or community safety. 

    Juvenile parole framework

    There will be a new, separate legislative framework for juvenile parole. The safety of the community and the successful rehabilitation and reintegration of juvenile offenders will be the priority considerations when making parole decisions. 

    Contact us

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

    For media enquiries please contact Media and Communications.