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Are you serving a sentence for a Commonwealth offence? A guide to parole

If you get a letter from the Attorney General’s Department about your parole, you should speak to Legal Aid straight away.

Important points

Commonwealth parole is different to State parole.

The Commonwealth Parole Office is part of the Attorney General’s Department in Canberra. It makes the decision to release you, not the State Parole Authority.

Release on parole is not automatic.

You don’t get to appear before a court or tribunal to argue for parole.

If the Commonwealth Parole Office is considering refusing parole, they will send you a letter through the SAPO.

The letter will tell you the reasons why the Commonwealth Parole Office is thinking about refusing parole. The letter will offer you a chance to have your say before the final decision is made.

Get advice.

Legal Aid can help you write to the Commonwealth Parole Office. Even if you send your own letter, you can still get advice from Legal Aid.

What if I am refused parole?

There is no right of appeal. But you should get advice from Legal Aid as quickly as possible.

You may be able to ask for an internal review or a reconsideration of the decision. Legal Aid can help with this and can advise you about other legal options.

The Commonwealth Parole Office must reconsider your parole within 12 months of refusing parole, but a reconsideration can be requested at any time.

How can I improve my chances of getting parole?

You may be refused parole for failing to participate in rehabilitation programs or for poor behaviour in prison. Other common reasons for refusal are your attitude to your offending or failure to have a good plan for your release, such as accommodation and community support.

If you had a drug addiction before your arrest, you should do all courses available to you to show you have tried to address your problem.

If no courses are available to you in prison, you should keep notes of your efforts to apply for courses. For example, keep any documents about waiting lists or cancellation of courses.

Think about your plans several months before you are due for parole. Try to have a plan for your release, even if you are going to be deported.

Be of good behaviour and work hard. Good case notes will help.

The pre-release report

Several months before the end of your non-parole period, the parole unit or community corrections office at your prison will interview you to prepare a “pre-release report”.

You will be asked about your attitude to your offence and your plans for release. You will be asked to explain any prison charges against you.

The pre-release report will be sent to the Commonwealth Parole Office.

The pre-release report is important to the final decision about your parole, but even if the report recommends your release, the Commonwealth Parole Office could still refuse parole.

How to contact us

Prisoners can contact Legal Aid NSW on the common auto dial list (CADL) as a free call.

Press 11# and say that you want legal advice about Commonwealth Parole. Your details will be passed on to the Commonwealth Crime Unit at Legal Aid.

Friends and family of prisoners can contact the Commonwealth Crime Unit at Legal Aid NSW on: (02) 9219 5076 or the Prisoners Legal Service on: (02) 8688 3888.

This information is a general guide to the law. You should not rely on it for legal advice, and we recommend that you talk to a lawyer about your situation.

© Legal Aid NSW

October 2019