Parole allows a prisoner to serve part of their sentence of imprisonment in the community. While on parole, a prisoner will be subject to parole conditions and under supervision. Serving part of the prison sentence in the community under parole supports the prisoner to reintegrate into the community with the aim of improving community safety.
When a court sentences an offender to prison, it may structure the sentence in 2 parts:
- An initial non-parole period, which the prisoner must serve in prison
- A second part of the sentence, during which the prisoner is eligible for release on parole to serve the remainder of the sentence in the community subject to conditions and under supervision. If a prisoner is released on parole, they are still undergoing their sentence until it expires, but are doing so in the community rather than in prison. At any time while on parole, they can be returned to prison to continue to serve their sentence if the risk of them remaining in the community is not acceptable.
An adult prisoner who is eligible for parole can only be released on parole if the Adult Parole Board makes a decision to grant parole and set the conditions of parole. In considering whether to grant parole, the Board is required by law to treat the safety and protection of the community as the paramount consideration.