Parole in Victoria is the conditional release of an offender from custody to serve the rest of their prison sentence in the community. A person is only eligible to be considered for parole if the court sets a non-parole period as part of their sentence.
For sentences between 12 and 24 months the court does not have to, but may choose to, fix a non-parole period. For sentences over 24 months the court must set a non-parole period, unless the offence or the offender’s history mean that parole would not be appropriate.
The Parole Board decides whether an offender is released on parole. The purpose of parole in Victoria is to supervise and support the offender’s reintegration back into the community. This benefits the community by reducing the chances that offenders will commit further offences.
Offenders released on parole must obey all of the conditions of their parole order which are set by the Parole Board. Conditions may be varied, deleted or added at any time during the parole period.
To be eligible for parole in Victoria, the sentence the court imposed must include a non-parole period or ‘minimum term’. This period is the time that must be served in prison. At the end of the non-parole period the offender can be considered for parole. This date is called the earliest eligibility date.
The Parole Board does not have to grant parole on this date and may decide to put off release to a later date. Before the earliest eligibility date, community corrections will do a parole assessment report for the Parole Board to consider.
To be suitable for release on parole in Victoria offenders should:
- take part in programs that address their offending behaviour
- provide drug-free urine samples
- not be involved in prison incidents.
However, each case is considered on an individual basis.
To be released, offenders must have somewhere to live that the Parole Board considers suitable.
All sex offenders are expected to undertake a Sex Offender Program while in custody. Failure to take part in the program may mean parole is refused.
Every parole order contains the following standard conditions:
- to not break any law
- to notify community corrections of any change of address or employment within 48 hours of the change
- to not leave Victoria without the permission of community corrections
- to follow all the lawful instructions of community corrections officers
- to accept the supervision of a community corrections officer
- to report to community corrections as required.
In addition, the following intensive parole conditions are included in most parole orders for at least the first 3 months of the order:
- to report at least twice a week to community corrections
- to be employed or to be in an approved educational or training program or to be doing community work directed by community corrections.
As well as standard and intensive conditions, the Parole Board may include other conditions in the parole order to meet the individual needs and risks of the particular parolee, including:
- assessment for addiction to alcohol and/or drugs
- medical assessment and treatment
- psychological or psychiatric assessment and treatment
- no direct or indirect contact with any victim or certain other potential victims
- no contact with children that is not supervised
- obeying a curfew
- living at a certain place and staying away from other certain places
- no alcohol consumption
- attendance at personal development programs
- random drug and/or alcohol testing.
There may also be further special conditions for sex offenders, including
- no association with certain persons
- no engagement in particular activities
- no employment in certain types of jobs
- no contact with young persons or children.
When an offender is granted parole in Victoria, if the parolee does not obey all of their parole conditions, or if they commit any further offences while on parole, this is called a breach. In fact, breach of parole conditions is itself an offence.
The Parole Board will decide what action to take on a breach. Options include:
- issuing a warning
- changing the conditions of the parole order
- cancelling the parole order.
For sex offenders and serious violent offenders, being charged with any offence is likely to lead to a cancellation of their parole. If the parolee is convicted of a new offence, and that offence is a sexual or violent offence, the parole must be automatically cancelled.
The Parole Board will consider whether to cancel the parole as soon as the charge is laid.
All other offenders who are charged with new offences that carry a jail term and which are alleged to have been committed while on parole must have their parole re-assessed by the Parole Board.
This article reflects the state of the law as at 25 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.