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Prisoners Review Board of Western Australia
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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Prisoners Review Board?

The Prisoners Review Board was established under the Sentence Administration Act 2003 (WA). Members of the Board come from all walks of life and a variety of cultural backgrounds. All members receive training. It started operation on 29 January 2007.

What is the Prisoners Review Board main role?

The main role of the Board is to conduct parole hearings and make decisions on the release of offenders from prisons and other custodial facilities throughout Western Australia.

Who are the members of the Prisoners Review Board?

The Board is made up of a chairperson, two Deputy Chairpersons, community members, Department of Corrective Services Officers and Police Officers.

The Board’s chairperson, deputy chairperson and community members are nominated by the Attorney General and appointed by the Governor. The number of community members appointed can vary according to the workload of the Board.

Public sector officers are appointed by the CEO of the Department of Corrective Services, while the police officers are appointed by the Police Commissioner. The number of Department officers and police officers appointed can also vary according to the workload of the Board.

How many members form a Board?

There is a legislative requirement for a minimum of three members - a chair (or deputy), a community member and a departmental member; however there is no maximum number.  Boards will be constituted of different of numbers of members.

How often will the Board be sitting?

The Board will be sitting five days per week. On occasions there may be two Boards sitting on the same day.

Does a victim of crime get a say in whether or not an offender gets parole?

A victim of an offence, for which an offender is in custody, may lodge a written submission with the Board.

The submission can:

  1. Describe the victim's opinion of the effect the release of the offender would have on them.
  2. Make suggestions about the conditions that should apply to the offender if released.

If a victim is incapable of making a submission due to age, disability or infirmity, another person may make a victim's submission on the victim's behalf.

Victim submissions are described in more detail in the Sentence Administration Act 2003 (WA) Part 2 Division 1 section 5C.

When can a person make a victim submission?

At any time from when a person is sentenced to imprisonment.

Can I find out where a former prisoner is living/working etc?

No.

What does the Board take into account when considering whether to release a prisoner?

There are many factors the Board will consider when deciding whether to release a person from custody.  These considerations are set out in s5A of the Sentence Administration Act 2003 (WA).

Will prison overcrowding be taken into account when considering whether or not release someone?

No. The safety of the community is the paramount consideration and each case is considered individually.

Can an offender refuse to be released on parole?

Yes. A parole order is not be made if the prisoner has given written notice that he or she does not want to be released on parole. Section 33 (1) Sentence Administration Act 2003 (WA).

Can an offender see their Prisoners Review File?

No. The Board is exempt from Schedule 2 of the Freedom of Information Act 1992 (WA).

If parole has been denied, suspended or cancelled, can the prisoner be considered for parole again?

Under the Sentence Administration Act 2003 (the Act) there are two ways that a prisoner can seek to have their release on parole considered again by the Board (after the Board has denied, suspended or cancelled their parole). Either way, only the prisoner can seek to have their matter considered. A family member cannot make the request on a prisoner's behalf.

1) Requesting a review of the Board's decision

A request for a review of the decision to deny, suspend or cancel parole can be made on the grounds set out in s 115A(6) of the Act. Under section 115A the only grounds on which a prisoner may rely are that the Board, in making its decision:

  1. did not comply with the Act or the regulations;
  2. made an error of law; or
  3. used incorrect or irrelevant information or was not provided with relevant information.

A request for review must clearly identify which of these grounds are relevant to the prisoner's request. If a prisoner decides to request a review, they should make sure that they provide all the information which is relevant to their request.

The information should support one or more of the grounds on which the prisoner relies. A prisoner can only request a review one time and it is important that they provide all relevant information at that time. If new information has come to light since the decision i.e. a new address or inclusion in a programme, this would be a re-application rather than a request for a review.

Under subsection 115A(4) of the Act the decision made as a result of a request for review is not a reviewable decision. This means that the prisoner has only one opportunity to challenge the Board’s decision.

2) Re-applying for release after parole denied, suspended or cancelled.       

The Board may consider a re-application request if the prisoner is able to demonstrate a significant change in circumstances and have reduced their risk of re-offending and the risk to the safety of the community.

Reasons denying or cancelling parole will have been outlined in the decision letter. The new Parole Plan should outline how the prisoner has addressed these concerns.

A revised parole plan should address the release considerations of section 5A and 5B of the Act and include details of a significant change in circumstances, protective strategies and supports the prisoner will utilise to lead a law abiding life if released in the community on parole. 

The presentation of the same information and release plan does not constitute new information and/or a significant change in circumstances for the Board to consider as a re-application request.

Prisoners who consider re-applying for parole, should contact their Case Management Co-ordinator, Unit Supervisor or Community Corrections Officer who will be able to provide a copy of section 5A of the Act which details the release considerations of a prisoner to parole

Can a prisoner find out the reasons why the Board made their decision?

The reasons for the Board's decision are stated in the letter sent to them from the Prisoners Review Board on the day of the decision.

What does this mean when the Board denies a prisoner's release due to unmet treatment needs?

It means the Board considers the prisoner's release poses an unacceptable risk to the safety of the community because they have not received adequate treatment to address their offending behaviour. Treatment is usually provided by prisons in the form of programmes.

The unavailability of programmes for any reason, does not remove the requirement of the Board to consider the risk of re-offending and the risk to the safety of the community posed by a person's release if treatment needs have not been met. If the sentence is under 12 months, intensive treatment programmes may not be available, however, prisoners are encouraged to engage with voluntary organisations and programmes wherever possible which could demonstrate motivation or willingness to address the offending behavior.

Complaints regarding the unavailability of programmes or any other prison matters including the treatment of prisoners, should be directed to the Department of Corrective Services.

Will a prisoner definitely be granted parole after they complete a treatment programme?

Successful programme completion will not necessarily result in release on parole. The Board will need to be satisfied, through the Programme Completion Report and other reports received from the prison and the Community Corrections Officer that the risk to the safety of the community has been reduced.

Can a prisoner ask for their hearing to be brought forward after a Board decision to adjourn?

The Board must allow a minimum of eight weeks from the date of programme completion before it can consider a matter. This time allows four weeks for the facilitators to complete their report, adequate time for the Community Corrections Officer to complete their report, the availability of hearing dates at the Board and any public holidays. Adequate time is also required for undertaking of administrative duties in relation to file preparation by the Board and adequate time for the Board Members to read all information prior to the hearing date.

While programme facilitators may advise a prisoner that their completion report will be completed urgently, as a priority or within a few weeks, the minimum of eight weeks is required as outlined above.

Can the Board's decision to adjourn a matter be reviewed?

Under subsection 115A(4) of the Act the decision made by the Board to adjourn a prisoner's matter is not a reviewable decision.

Last updated: 10-Oct-2016

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