On 3 July 2017, the Queensland Government established the Parole Board Queensland (the Board) in response to recommendations from the Queensland Parole System Review by Mr Walter Sofronoff QC (as he then was).
The Board is established under Chapter 5 (Parole) of the Corrective Services Act 2006 (the Act); and is an independent statutory authority.
The Board makes objective, evidence-based and transparent parole decisions. The Board’s independence requires its decisions are made in accordance with relevant legislation, common law principles and the Guidelines issued by the relevant Minister (under section 242E, the Act); without influence or pressure from external sources.
When considering whether a prisoner should be granted parole, the overriding consideration for the Board is community safety; it is the highest priority for the Board in its decision making process. This involves a consideration as to whether there is an unacceptable risk to the community if the prisoner is released to parole; but also, whether the risk to the community would be greater if the prisoner does not spend a period on parole under supervision before fulltime completion of their prison term.
Functions of the Board
The Board is responsible for determining:
- parole applications for Board Ordered Parole (see, sections 180 and 193 of the Act);
- parole applications for exceptional circumstances parole – a prisoner can apply for such an order at any time and it may start at any time, however the threshold is high, and the Board has a very wide discretion as to what constitutes exceptional circumstances (see, sections 176 and 177 of the Act);
- decisions to amend or suspend or cancel any parole order, including a court-ordered parole order (see, Chpt 5, Part 1, Div 5 of the Act) – for example, but not limited to, where the Board reasonably believes that the prisoner has failed to comply with a condition of the parole order, or poses a serious risk of harm to someone else, or poses an unacceptable risk of committing an offence;
- decisions to, or to endorse a decision of an individual Prescribed Board Member to, immediately suspend a parole order (including a court-ordered parole order) upon the request of Queensland Corrective Services (see, section 208A to 208C of the Act);
- approval for a parolee to travel interstate for longer than 7 days and include conditions (see, section 212 of the Act);
- approval for a parolee to travel overseas but only for a compassionate purpose and in exceptional circumstances (see, section 213 of the Act);
- parole applications where the No body No parole provisions apply under section 193A of the Act – that is, for a prisoner serving a period of imprisonment for a ‘homicide offence’ and the victim’s body or remains have still not been located, the Board must refuse to grant the application unless satisfied the prisoner has cooperated satisfactorily in the investigation of the offence to identify the victim’s location; and
- parole applications where the prisoner has links to terrorism (see, sections 193B–193E, and section 247A of the Act) – in these circumstances the Board must refuse to grant the application unless satisfied exceptional circumstances exist to justify granting the application (as distinct from an exceptional circumstances parole order issued under section 177 of the Act).
Queensland Corrective Services is responsible for the day-to-day case management and supervision of prisoners once released to the community on parole.