Understanding Parole: Definition, Process and Eligibility

Parole meaning


Parole refers to the period of a term of imprisonment that may be served in the community, subject to a person being released in accordance with the Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Act 1999 (NSW) (CASA). Parole’s meaning is to ensure that those sentenced to a term of imprisonment are re-integrated into the community and can continue rehabilitation, as they are still subject to the supervision of Corrective Services. 


Those being granted parole will usually be notified as to whether you will be released no later than 21 days before you are eligible for parole. Parole decisions are made by the State Parole Authority (SPA). Once you receive parole, probation and parole of officers will be responsible to manage the person whilst in the community.

The non-parole period of a sentence refers to the minimum amount of time a person must spend in prison. The non-parole period may be:


  • A standard non-parole period, as prescribed by legislation; or
  • A period that is no more than two thirds of the total sentence. For example, you are sentenced to three (3) years imprisonment, your non-parole period would be two (2) years; or
  • A period greater than two-thirds of the total sentence, where there are special circumstances.

A court may decline to set a non-parole period for reasons such as the nature and seriousness of the offences or because of any other penalty previously imposed.

Under section 46 of Crimes Sentencing and Procedure Act 1999 (NSW) (CPA) if you are sentenced to a prison sentence period of imprisonment of six (6) months or less, the full time must be served in prison. No parole will be granted.

Under section 44 of the CPA, if an individual is sentenced to a period of imprisonment greater than 6 months, the Court must set a non-parole period.


Under section 158(1) of the CASA if the sentence period is three (3) years or less, the offender is automatically released on parole at the end of the non-parole period.

Where an individual has been sentenced to a total term of imprisonment that is more than three (3) years, they will not be automatically released at the end of the non-parole period. Instead, the individual is eligible for release. A determination as to whether the offender will be released will be made by the SPA will usually be made in the three (3) months before the end of the non-parole period.

Ultimately, for an offender to be released on parole they must meet the requirements of parole applications pursuant to s 126 of CASA, namely:


  • That they have served the non-parole period; and
  • They are not in custody for another offence that is still within the non-parole period.

Factors the SPA will take into consideration when granting parole applications include:


  • Risk to community safety;
  • Nature and circumstances of the offence;
  • Relevant comments made by the sentencing court;
  • The offender’s criminal history; and
  • The likely effect on any victim and/or victim’s family of the offender being released on parole.

A pre-release report is prepared by Community Corrections, which is also taken into consideration. This document sets out recommendations for the release of the offender.

The standard parole conditions in NSW are set out under clause 214 the Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Regulation 2014, which are as follows:


  • the offender must, while on release on parole, be of good behaviour,
  • the offender must not, while on release on parole, commit any offence,
  • the offender must, while on release on parole, adapt to normal lawful community life.

Where the offender is subject to a supervision condition, as part of their parole conditions they may be subject to any number of stipulations set out in clause 214A, which are as follows:

  • after release under the parole order, to report—
    • to a community corrections officer at a time and place directed before release, or
    • if no direction is given, at an office of Community Corrections within 7 days of release,
  • to report to a community corrections officer at the times and places directed by the officer,
  • to comply with all reasonable directions of a community corrections officer relating to any of the following—
    • the place in which the offender is to reside,
    • participating in programs, treatment, interventions or other related activities,
    • without limiting subparagraph (ii), participating in employment, education, training or other related activities,
    • not undertaking specified employment, education, training, volunteer, leisure or other activities,
    • not associating with a specified person,
    • not frequenting or visiting a specified place or area,
    • ceasing drug use,
    • ceasing or reducing alcohol use,
    • drug and alcohol testing,
    • requirements for the purposes of monitoring compliance with the parole order,
    • to give consent to third parties providing information to a community corrections officer about the offender’s compliance with the parole order,
  • to comply with any other reasonable directions of a community corrections officer,
  • to permit a community corrections officer to visit the offender at the offender’s place of residence at any time and, for that purpose, to enter the premises,
  • to notify a community corrections officer of any change to his or her place of residence, contact details or employment—
    • if practicable, before the change occurs, or
    • if that is not practicable, within 7 days of the change occurring,
  • not to leave New South Wales without the permission of a community corrections manager,
  • not to leave Australia without the permission of the Parole Authority.

Where a determination by the SPA has been made to refuse a parole application, under section 139 of CASA the SPA must:


  • Give notice of it’s decision to the offender; and
  • Determine whether there will be a hearing for redetermination, irrespective of whether one is requested; or
  • If a hearing for redetermination will be held, only if it is requested and the SPA is satisfied that a hearing is warranted.

All documents relied upon by the SPA in their determination to be relied upon must be provided to the offender.

Parole may be revoked before an offender’s release on parole, if the SPA is satisfied that:


  • the offender, if released, would pose a serious identifiable risk to the safety of the community and that the risk cannot be sufficiently mitigated by directions from a community corrections officer or by changing the conditions of parole; or
  • the offender, if released, would pose a serious and immediate risk to the offender’s safety and that the risk cannot be sufficiently mitigated by directions from a community corrections officer or by changing the conditions of parole; or
  • the offender has failed to comply with the offender’s obligations under a re-integration home detention order; or
  • a re-integration home detention order applying to the offender has been revoked, or
  • the offender has requested the revocation; or
  • in the case of a parole order made by the Parole Authority, there has been a substantial change to a matter considered by the Parole Authority in making the order; or
  • any other circumstance prescribed by the regulations for the purpose of this section exist.

Once an offender is released on parole and is managed in the community under supervision, their parole may be revoked and they are likely to be returned to prison if they breach any of their parole conditions. This is the most likely outcome when there are multiple breaches.


Parole is also likely to be revoked where the offender commits another criminal offence while on parole.

If you or a loved one have issues with Parole and require advice, contact an experienced criminal defence lawyer at Lyons Law Group.

Our Recent Articles