The following aspects of the Government's recent Parole Legislation Amendment Act 2017 commence today:
• Community safety test: The State Parole Authority (SPA) will use the new community safety test when considering offenders for parole. The community safety test replaces the ‘public interest’ test and requires that the SPA only release an offender on parole if they are satisfied that it is in the interests of community safety. The test also requires the SPA to consider, if applicable, whether the offender has disclosed the location of the remains of a victim (‘no body, no parole’).
• Changes to Victims Register: The Corrective Services Victims Register have clearer authority to provide information to all registered victims (instead of only victims of serious offenders) when there are important changes to a relevant offender’s circumstances in custody. This includes when a relevant offender is being considered for parole. All registered victims will have the right to make a submission to be considered by the SPA during decision making.
• Information sharing to improve management of offenders: Health service providers will be required to provide information to Community Corrections about the participation of a parolee in medical treatment required as a parole condition, or under direction from a Community Correction Officer. For example, psychiatric, anti-libidinal or drug treatment. This allows Community Corrections to more effectively supervise a parolee. Health service providers are not required to provide specific details about the nature of the service provided.
• Extension of the prerogative of mercy: This allows the Governor of NSW to grant pardons to offenders, or lessen the impact of their sentences, such as by releasing them from custody before their non-parole periods expire. The scope of the prerogative of mercy will be extended to authorise the Governor to release an offender on parole. An offender released on parole under the prerogative will be subject to the same controls by SPA and supervision by Community Corrections, as any other offender released on parole.
• Extending the right to request the SPA revoke parole: The power of the Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecution to request the SPA revoke a parole order of a serious offender (on the grounds that it was obtained on the basis of false, misleading or irrelevant information) has been extended to the Minister for Corrections.
• Review of decision to revoke parole: The SPA have clearer authority to consider the behaviour of the offender, including any offences alleged to have been committed on parole or after parole was revoked, when reviewing the decision to revoke parole.
For further information, see the Department of Justice's parole reform webpage