Any victim of crime can write to the Board and express their view about the release of a prisoner on parole. The Board will consider all letters, emails and submissions it receives from victims of crime. The weight that it gives the correspondence or submission will be assessed with all matters being considered.
All victims of crime who are on the Victims Register are notified when a prisoner applies for parole and asked whether they want to write a submission to the Board. By law, the submission must be in writing, must address the victim’s view about the effect of the potential release of the prisoner on parole, and may include comments about conditions to which the parole order may be subject.
The Board carefully considers every submission from victims – whether registered or not – when it is deciding whether to grant parole. The Board has a discretion about the weight it gives to a victim’s submission.
If the victim is opposed to the prisoner being released on parole, that view is taken into account. However, the Board must also consider all other factors and decide whether a supported and supervised transition from prison is more in the community interest than straight release at the end of the prisoner’s sentence, having regard to the Board’s paramount consideration of the safety and protection of the community.
Most prisoners will be released into the community at the end of their sentence if not granted parole. If released at the end of their sentence, they will not be supervised and supported in the way they are on parole. This can impact on their transition to the community and their risk of reoffending.
If the risk to the community is acceptable, a period on parole under supervision by the assigned specialist parole officer and with oversight by the Board may improve the prisoner’s prospects of a successful reintegration to the community. If the prisoner’s risk of reoffending escalates to an unacceptable level while on parole, the Board can cancel the prisoner’s parole and return them to prison.
There will be cases, therefore, when the Board decides to release a prisoner on parole despite a victim submission opposing parole.
Submissions from victims can be important when the Board is deciding what conditions to impose on a parole order. Concerns that victims have about their safety or being confronted by the prisoner in the community may be addressed by the imposition of conditions that can be monitored and enforced. For example, victims may ask for conditions that stop the prisoner from contacting them or from entering into a specified geographic area (for example, specifying local government or postcode boundaries) to avoid coming into contact with the prisoner where they live or work. The Board will commonly adopt these recommendations when it decides on conditions to impose.
All victim correspondence and submissions are treated as private and confidential. They are only read by Board members and staff. Prisoners do not have access to victim submissions or correspondence.