Prisoners in Queensland who are released on parole serve out the remainder of the sentence in the community under a range of conditions.
Queensland Corrective Services supervise the observance of these conditions, breach of which may result in the conditions being changed, or parole being suspended or cancelled and the parolee returned to prison.
This post will concentrate on the process of applying for parole. If you are serving a sentence and need prompt advice on how best to present your case, speak to criminal lawyers with years of proven experience in advocacy on parole matters, Hannay Lawyers.
What is the parole application process?
There are two types of parole in Queensland – court-ordered parole order and parole ordered by the Parole Board of Queensland.
A court-ordered parole order sets a fixed date for release to parole, determined at the time of sentence by the sentencing court.
A board-ordered parole order applies to those prisoners who are given a parole eligibility date when they are imprisoned. The Parole Board Queensland then determines if and when the prisoner is released on parole once that date is reached.
The difference as to whether an offender receives a set release date or an eligibility date from the court depends upon the type of offence and the length of the term of imprisonment imposed.
The granting of parole by the Parole Board of Queensland is made in line with legislation, common law principles and guidelines issued by the Minister for Police and Corrective Services.
If the court doesn’t provide a parole eligibility date, a prisoner may apply to the Parole Board after serving half of their sentence unless they are serving a life or indefinite sentence, or have been the subject of a ‘serious violent offence declaration’.
Those convicted of a serious violent offence may only apply for parole once they’ve served 80 per cent of their sentence, or 15 years in prison (whichever is less), unless a later parole eligibility date was set by the court.
Those sentenced to life must serve 15 years in prison before being eligible to apply for parole.
After receiving a parole application, the Parole Board must decide the application within 150 days (if it requires more information) or otherwise, 120 days.
There is also the facility to apply to the board in exceptional circumstances such as illness or certain compassionate grounds.
What factors are considered in assessing a parole application?
Some – but not all – of the factors the Parole Board takes into consideration include:
- the prisoner’s criminal history and pattern of offending;
- whether there are factors that increase the risk the prisoner presents to the community;
- whether the prisoner has been convicted of a serious sexual offence or serious violent offence;
- the remarks of the sentencing judge and whether any parole recommendation was made;
- expert medical, psychological or psychiatric risk assessment reports relating to the prisoner; and
- the prisoner’s behaviour while imprisoned.
The Board also considers what the prisoner will face once released into community. What support and other services will they have access to? Where will they live? Has the prisoner undertaken rehabilitation programs while in prison and were they completed?
If the Board refuses to grant a parole application it must give the prisoner written reasons for the refusal and decide a period of time within which a further application for parole (other than an exceptional circumstances parole order) must not be made without the Board’s consent.
No body no parole laws
It’s important to note that if a prisoner is imprisoned for a homicide offence and the body or remains, or part of the body or remains of the victim of the offence have not been located, the Parole Board must refuse to grant the application unless the Board is satisfied the prisoner has satisfactorily cooperated in the investigation of the offence to identify the victim’s location.
The importance of good representation
Section 189 of the Corrective Services Act 2006 provides that ‘a prisoner’s agent may, with the parole board’s leave, appear before the board to make representations in support of the prisoner’s application for a parole order that may be heard and decided by the board’.
This means that if you are in the position of making an application for parole, you should avail yourself of expert legal representation. Hannay Lawyers are award-winning criminal lawyers who’ve represented many people as they seek a parole order, so contact us Criminal Lawyer Gold Coast today for an initial discussion.