About parole in NSW

Inmates in NSW can be released on parole in one of two ways – either under a statutory (court-imposed) order or an order of the State Parole Authority (SPA).

The SPA only makes parole decisions for inmates serving prison sentences of more than 3 years and 1 day. 

Inmates sentenced to less than 3 years in prison are automatically released on parole by the Sentencing Court at the end of their non-parole period.

Inmates who come before the SPA are eligible for parole once they have served the non-parole period of their sentences. Inmates do not need to apply for parole the first time as the law requires them to be automatically be considered. 

Once an inmate becomes eligible for parole, the SPA must decide whether it is in the interests of community safety to grant a parole order allowing them to continue serving the rest of their sentence in the community, with conditions and under the supervision of Community Corrections officers.

In every matter, the SPA considers the interests of the safety of the community, the rights of the victim, the intentions of the sentencing court and the needs of the offender.

The legislation states the SPA must begin considering an eligible offender for parole at least 60 days before the end of their non parole period (parole eligibility date) and any final decision must be delivered 21 days before that date. 

Deciding parole for an offender is a complex process which can take several months and involves the careful assessment and consideration of an abundance of material including a risk assessment, criminal history, Judge’s remarks, report by psychologists or psychiatrists, advice and a pre-release report by Community Corrections and, where relevant, the recommnedations and report  by the Serious Offenders Review Council.

Victims of crime, or their family, can make a submission to the SPA which is considered during the decision-making process.

In the case of Serious Offenders, public review hearings are held in open court to allow victims and the State of NSW to make a submission before parole is decided.

NSW is the only jurisdiction in Australia to hold public hearings in court, allowing victims of serious offenders to make a verbal submission directly to the SPA if they choose.

The SPA records reasons to support every determination it makes.

Parole is an effective mechanism in our legal system and the research and evidence consistently shows supervised parole works in reducing reoffending.

A 2022 study by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research concluded inmates released to supervised parole are less likely to commit further crime than those released unconditionally.

Significantly, lower rates of re-offending were still seen 2 years after release from prison.

Last updated:

10 Aug 2022

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