Thursday, August 29th, 2013
Originally I was going to stay right out of this national conversation about parole because it’s mainly been a witch hunt against the faceless criminal enemy. Hey that’s a cycle of our society. But at this point there is so much rubbish information floating around it has become time to explain what parole is and why we need it. Because the alternative is far more dangerous.
First, understand that parole is an eligibility at the half way mark of any sentence greater than 12 months. It’s not a right. A non-parole period is when a court deems on the crime and circumstances that an added danger or penalty should be recognised. Non-parole periods are always greater than half the sentence.
I hope that makes sense, because it often gets reported like a non-parole period is a reward. In fact, it’s an added penalty imposed at sentencing.
The second feature of parole that you should understand is that time served on parole can be of any duration from that remaining of the original custodial sentence up to three or more times in length. This is an offer by the Parole Board that the prisoner weighs as whether to accept parole or to continue serving his sentence in prison. Choosing to serve one’s time in full is considered, in prison, the mark of an old school hardened villain. A prisoner who is going to re-offend is ALWAYS better off not taking parole.
And if parole is taken by the prisoner and conditions breached then the offender can be revoked back to prison on the Parole Board’s order as if their time never stopped. Parole merely suspends the clock in a sentence. If it isn’t breached then parole ends and the sentence remaining is forgiven. If it is breached, the sentence is resumed.
So, if a prisoner serving eight years is given a non-parole period of five years and it takes another year to get parole that leaves two years outstanding. By that stage they have served six of their full eight years in prison. The parole period they will be released on would be for at least their time remaining or as long as another six or eight years depending on the board’s parole offer against the remaining two years to serve.
And if a prisoner has finished parole then a minimum of the entirety of their original sentence has passed, or greater. I point out this detail because it is often reported by lazy journalists that the offending parolee should have been in prison when an offence had occurred later than the expiration of their parole. In truth, they would have been in the community when they offended at that point. Sentence completed. Hard time served in full.