A ‘non parole period’ is the time that an inmate must spend inside prison before being eligible to apply for release from prison ‘on parole’. The non-parole period may be followed by a ‘parole period’ – which is time spent in the community under certain parole conditions. Those obligations are supposed to help parolees adjust to life outside prison and stay on the right road.
For some, leaving prison on parole is a time for reunification with family and friends. But it can be a very tough time for those without family connections, a home or job.
This blog sets out the consequences of breaching parole.
Parolees will normally be under the supervision of Community Corrections, who can report breaches to the Parole Authority.
The standard conditions of parole are:
- To be of good behaviour for the duration of the parole period;
- Not to commit any offence while on parole; and
- To adapt to normal, lawful community life
In addition to these requirements, the Parole Authority or court may impose further obligations and requirements, such as complying with drug or alcohol testing. However, consultation is required before a court can impose conditions relating to residence or treatment.
A parolee may be prohibited from associating or communicating with particular people – often a co-accused, complainant or prosecution witnesses – or from visiting a particular place or district.
Parole conditions can be varied from time to time by the Authority, but this must be in writing.
Importantly, a person’s parole can be revoked even after the parole period has expired if it is later discovered that a breach occurred during the parole period.
The Parole Authority has a number of options when dealing with the breaches of parole.
If the breach is trivial, it may decide to take no action at all. Alternatively, it may send a warning letter or ask a parolee to come in and explain the breach.
If a criminal charge has been brought, the Authority may not take any action until the case is finalised in court, and unless the person pleads guilty or is found guilty. Under section 21A of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1991, committing an offence while on ‘conditional liberty’ is also an ‘aggravating factor’ which can make the sentence harsher.
For breaches in between, the Authority can revoke a person’s parole and issue an arrest warrant – which will result in the parolee being returned to prison.
After this, there will be a hearing to determine whether or not your parole should remain revoked, which will normally occurred at least several weeks after parole was initially revoked.
If you are suspected of breaching parole, your first port of call should be to contact an experienced criminal lawyer who will advise you of your options and the best way forward for you.