Parole provides prisoners with a structured, supported and supervised transition so that they can adjust from prison back into the community, rather than returning straight to the community at the end of their sentence without supervision or support. By supporting prisoners to return to the community under supervision toward the end of their sentence, parole’s main purpose is to increase community safety.
Prison is a very structured and controlled environment: it is very different to life in the community. Many prisoners have been removed from the community for a long time and returning to the community can be challenging and difficult for them.
Prisoners who are straight released at the end of their sentence will return to the community without the supervision and support offered by parole. This may increase the risk of reoffending compared to release with supervision on parole.
A prisoner on parole will be subject to conditions that are designed to minimise their risk of reoffending, to protect the community, and to support the prisoner. Prisoners must abide by the conditions of their parole order, and are closely monitored by the Adult Parole Board and Community Correctional Services (CCS) through their parole period.
While on parole, the prisoner remains under sentence. At any time during the parole period, the Board may cancel the prisoner’s parole if it is concerned about the risk to community safety, and return the prisoner to prison.
The principles and practices of parole have developed internationally for over a century to manage the transition from prison to life in the community in a way that reduces the risk to the community.
Features of Victoria’s discretionary parole system
- Parole provides an incentive for prisoners to behave in prison and to complete programs in prison aimed at addressing factors that have contributed to the prisoner’s offending, such as drug addiction.
- Release on parole is not automatic. The Board individually assesses each eligible prisoner who applies for parole to decide whether they are suitable for parole and the conditions under which they should be released on parole.
- Parole can help prisoners through the difficult transition back to the community by providing targeted support such as drug and alcohol or psychological counselling, advice and practical assistance.
- Parole enables parole officers and the Board to supervise prisoners following their release into the community. Parole conditions can control where the prisoner lives, whom they may associate with, and can subject them to regular drug tests and electronic monitoring.
- The Board can increase, reduce, vary or enforce the conditions of parole as circumstances and risks change throughout the parole period. If necessary, the Board can cancel parole and return the prisoner to prison.