Release on parole in South Australia is only possible if a non-parole period was set when a person was sentenced by the court. If they are sentenced to jail for one year or more the court must set a minimum time for them to stay in custody before being released on parole, unless the court considers there is good reason not to. The prisoner is then eligible for release on parole at the end of that time.
Parole is designed to:
- allow for the early release of prisoners from jail
- help prisoners to move back to life in the community with the supervision and advice of parole officers
- help prisoners to move away from a life of crime.
A person who commits an offence while on parole risks being sent back to jail to serve the balance of their sentence.
Only prisoners who accept the conditions of parole set by the Parole Board will be released on parole. In some instances, an application for parole must be made to the Parole Board.
A prisoner is entitled to have legal representation when appearing before the Parole Board. However, a prisoner serving a sentence of less than 5 years is usually entitled to be released on parole automatically at the end of their non-parole period unless the offences:
- were committed while on parole
- were serious firearms offences
- were sexual offences
- were personal violence offences
- were offences involving arson
- were a breach of parole conditions.
Conditions of parole in South Australia are set by the Parole Board. A prisoner must accept these conditions before being released on parole. Everyone released on parole must:
- not commit any offence
- not be in possession of an offensive weapon unless permitted by the Parole Board
- be supervised by a community corrections officer and must obey the officer’s reasonable directions.
For a period of up to 1 year following release on parole, the prisoner may be subject to conditions that they live at a particular place and undertake particular activities and programs. Other conditions may also be imposed, including monitoring by an electronic device.
An application can be made to the Parole Board to vary the conditions of parole. Prisoners who were sentenced to life imprisonment and are released on parole must also:
- not possess any firearm or part of a firearm or any ammunition
- submit to gunshot residue testing as required by their community corrections officer.
If any of these conditions are breached it will lead to the automatic cancellation of parole.
Breach of parole in South Australia has significant consequences for the prisoner.
- The Board may cancel parole for a breach of any parole conditions and order that the person serve the balance of their sentence (as at the date of the breach). They can do this even if when the breach was proved, the parole period had already finished.
- The Board may also impose a condition that the person perform between 40 and 200 hours community service.
- A person will automatically serve the balance of their sentence if while on parole they commit an offence that results in a further jail sentence, or if they breach any of the conditions regarding the possession of firearms or ammunition and gunshot residue testing.
- If a person is returned to prison automatically and has a year or more of a sentence to serve, application can be made to have a new non-parole period fixed by the court.
- If sentenced to a period of imprisonment for an offence committed while on parole they must also serve the unexpired balance of parole before serving the sentence for the further offending.
The Department for Correctional Services can release prisoners on home detention. Generally, a prisoner is eligible for release after serving one half of their non-parole period but only if it is less than one year before the end of their non-parole period.
Not all who are serving sentences of imprisonment are eligible for release on home detention. In addition, a prisoner released on home detention is subject to a number of conditions including:
- that they be of good behaviour
- that they not possess a firearm or any part of a firearm or any ammunition
- that they obey the directions of the home detention officer, including submitting to gunshot residue testing.
Any breach of these conditions may lead to the home detention being revoked. A breach by committing further offences during the period of the home detention may result in the prisoner having to serve the balance of the non-parole period in jail.
This article reflects the state of the law as at 23 November 2015. It is intended to be of a general nature only and does not constitute legal advice. If you require legal assistance, please telephone 1300 636 846 or request a consultation at gotocourt.com.au.