POST PRISON COMMUNITY BASED RELEASE
Post-prison community based release (PPCBR) orders include parole, home detention and release to work. Until the Corrective Services Act 2000 (CSA)
was implemented on 1 July 2001, the law provided for prisoners’ gradual
release back to the community through staged eligibility for the Leave of Absence scheme, followed by home detention and then parole. Since 1 July 2001, prisoners are now given only one eligibility date for PPCBR, which is set at 50% of the sentence in most cases (see When can I apply?). This means that prisoners cannot be given release to work or home detention before their parole eligibility date.
Release to work (RTW) involves release to a Community Corrections
Centre (such as the Helena Jones Community Corrections Centre for women or the St Vincent de Paul Community Corrections Centre for men). While at a community corrections centre a prisoner may be given leave passes to seek employment, to attend work and for other purposes.
Home Detention (Home D) is release to the prisoner’s home. The prisoner is closely supervised by community corrections officers and may be subjected to regular drug testing or required to attend rehabilitative courses. As with RTW, the prisoner’s freedom is restricted. They can only leave the confines
of their home if they have been given permission to do so.
A prisoner on parole cannot leave the State of Queensland without
permission, is required to report regularly to their community corrections officer and may be required to submit to drug testing and/or to undertake rehabilitative programs.
A prisoner is usually released first to release to work in a community corrections centre, then to home detention and finally parole. However, in some circumstances a prisoner may be granted home detention or even parole without being first ordered to undertake release to work, for example, where there is no place available in a release to work centre or the prisoner cannot work for health or other reasons.
Who can apply?
Most prisoners convicted of an offence or offences that were committed before 1 July 2001 can apply for PPCBR.
Prisoners convicted of an offence that was committed after 1 July, 2001 can
only apply for community based release orders if their total “period of imprisonment” is more than 2 years.
A “period of imprisonment” may include more than one “sentence”, imposed at the same time or at different times, if the duration of imprisonment is unbroken.
All prisoners can apply for “exceptional circumstances parole” (see later section) although this is very rarely granted.
The following prisoners cannot apply for PPCBR:
; Prisoners serving a period of imprisonment of two years or less for an
offence or offences committed after 1 July, 2001;
; Prisoners sentenced to an indefinite term under Part 10 of the
Penalties and Sentences Act 1992;
; Remand prisoners; and
; Prisoners appealing their conviction or sentence (until the appeal is
Prisoners who are being detained in immigration detention or subject to a deportation order pursuant to a warrant issued under the Migration Act 1958
cannot apply for home detention or release to work. They can apply for parole. If parole is granted they will be transferred to immigration detention until they are deported. Women are detained in immigration detention at Brisbane Women’s Correctional Centre. Men are detained at the Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre and held in immigration detention. When can I apply?
You should be notified, in writing, of your eligibility date for PPCBR within two to three weeks of your admission to prison. Your eligibility date will depend on the type of sentence you received.
Prisoners sentenced to a fixed period of imprisonment will usually be
eligible to apply either on the date fixed by the sentencing court (sometimes referred to as a “parole recommendation”) or, if no such recommendation has been made, after serving 50% of the fixed period.
Prisoners sentenced as “serious violent offenders” must serve at least
80% of their sentence or 15 years (whichever is the less) before they will be eligible to apply for PPCBR.
Life sentenced prisoners will be eligible to apply after either 13 years (if the
offence was committed before 1 July 1997) or 15 years (if the offence was
committed on or after 1 July 1997) or 20 years (if two or more murders were
committed and at least one was committed on or after 1 July 1997).
How do I apply?
Step one: Gather the information you will need
At least six months prior to your eligibility date you should get together the information you will need to make your application. This will include:
； A statement from you setting out your attitude to and preparation for
； Details of prospective employment, educational or other plans;
； Details of the efforts you have made to address your offending
behaviour through rehabilitative or relapse prevention programs
(include exit reports); and
； Any plans you have for rehabilitation activities after release,
(including counselling support, Narcotics Anonymous, AA etc);
； Details of the support available to you in the community from family,
friends, community or church groups;
； Written references and letters of support, if possible.
Step two: See your Community Corrections Officer
At least three or four months before your eligibility date, submit a written
request for an appointment with the Community Corrections Officer at your centre. It is the role of this officer to put together the material that will go before the community corrections board that will decide your application.
You will need to fill out an Application for PPCBR: Form 29. These forms
should be available from the Community Corrections Officer or from the prison’s Sentence Management Unit. According to Department of Corrective Services Procedures “prisoners are encouraged to submit applications
90 days before their eligibility date”.
The Community Corrections Officer should also arrange for documents and reports to be provided by your case manager and the sentence management unit at the prison. If the application includes Home Detention they will arrange a home assessment.
If there have been psychological or addiction issues associated with the offence or offences for which you were sentenced, the community corrections board may require a psychological or psychiatric evaluation. These reports can take some time to arrange so if you are likely to need one it should be requested at least three months prior to your eligibility date.
It is important that your application reach the relevant board in time for them to make a decision before your eligibility date. According to Department of Corrective Services Procedures, Community Corrections Officers should
forward the application, reports and documents to the relevant Board at least 30 days before you are eligible for PPCBR.
Step three: Send your application to the Board
The Community Corrections Officer should forward your application, together with the necessary supporting documentation, to the community corrections board in time for the application to be decided before your eligibility date.
You are also entitled to forward an application directly to the board, however the board will then request reports and information (such as psychological and behavioural reports, home assessments etc) from community corrections.
Step four: The Board Hearing
If your period of imprisonment is less than 8 years, your application will be heard by a regional community corrections board that deals with applications from the prison you are in. For those serving 8 years or more, their hearing will be before the Queensland Community Corrections Board (QCCB). The regional board has the same powers as the QCCB to determine a prisoner’s PPCBR application.
Most regional boards meet at least fortnightly or at three week intervals. The QCCB meets weekly. The boards are made up of community representatives who sit on the board part-time. Each board has a full-time Secretary who prepares paperwork and correspondence.
You can apply to appear in person and/or by an agent (such as a counsellor, social worker, friend or family member) when a regional board is considering your application.
You cannot request to appear in person before the QCCB, but you can apply to have an agent appear on your behalf. You cannot be represented by a lawyer at any hearing of an application for PPCBR.
Step five: The decision
By law, a community corrections board must either grant or refuse an application for community based release. They cannot “defer” a decision indefinitely. If a board fails to decide an application within 120 days of its receipt they are taken to have refused it.
The board may decide to defer a decision until they obtain further information, such as a psychiatric evaluation. This additional information should usually be arranged by the community correctional officer assigned to your case.
If a board refuses an application they must give the applicant written reasons for the refusal and they must set a date, not more than six months after the refusal, when they will consider a fresh application.
Where a regional board refuses three successive applications for PPCBR you are entitled to have the third refusal reviewed by the QCCB. An application for review must be made within 7 days of your receipt of written notice of the refusal.
There is no mechanism for another body to review a decision of the QCCB. However, it is the usual practice of the QCCB to advise an applicant of their decision and grant them seven (7) days to respond to “adverse matters” affecting the refusal. This is because of court decisions that have
established that applicants are entitled to be made aware of matters adverse to them and to have an opportunity to make submissions on those matters.
Decisions of community corrections boards are subject to the Judicial
Review Act 1991 (see pamphlet in this series on Judicial Review)
If a sentencing court recommends a prisoner for parole or PPCBR on a particular date, then the community corrections board should abide by that recommendation unless they receive information about the prisoner that was not before the court at the time of sentencing and, after considering the information, they consider that the prisoner is not suitable for release at the time recommended by the court.
Ministerial Guidelines to Community Corrections Boards
A set of Ministerial Guidelines provide the framework for decision-making by the QCCB, and the QCCB issues similar guidelines to the regional Boards. A community corrections board, when making a decision, is not permitted to follow these guidelines “blindly”. The guidelines are principles for decision making, but each case must be considered on all of the information before the Board. Current Ministerial Guidelines state that the protection of the community should be the priority when deciding whether to grant PPCBR and that:
Wherever possible, prisoners should be phased back into the
community in a staged process of decreasingly-restrictive
supervision. Staged release can include release to work, home
detention or parole or a combination of these options best suited to
the assessed needs of the prisoner.
An application for community release, especially for prisoners who have served a long term for serious offences, is probably best seen as a “package” of decreasingly restrictive options. For example, transfer to Open custody, a period of resettlement leaves of absence increasing in length and frequency, followed by release to work etc.
In some cases, such a typical progression may not be possible or appropriate and a prisoner may, for example, proceed directly from a WORC camp or outstation (open security facilities) to parole.
Current Ministerial Guidelines also state that it is preferable that an applicant for PPCBR is classified as a low or open security classification before being released.
Medium security prisoners can be granted community release, for example, if they are serving a short sentence or if they did not commit a serious violent offence.
Sometimes there is a special reason that a prisoner’s security classification has not been reduced to “low” or “open”. For example, if a prisoner has recently been transferred from interstate, or if a prisoner has a very early recommendation for parole by the sentencing court, which has made it impossible for them to reach low or open security in the time available.
All prisoners who have reached their eligibility date are entitled to have their application considered by the relevant board and their individual circumstances assessed, no matter what their security classification is. It is not true that you are “ineligible” for PPCBR if you have not achieved a low or open security classification.
It is not the role of sentence management or community corrections staff to form an opinion on whether a prisoner will be granted community release and choose either to forward or not forward an application to the board on the basis of that opinion. This decision can only be made by the community corrections board.
Exceptional circumstances parole
Community corrections boards can grant “exceptional circumstances parole” to a prisoner at any time before their parole eligibility date where, for example:
； the prisoner or a close relative is suffering a life-threatening illness;
； circumstances of a serious nature have arisen which did not exist at
the time of sentencing
However, the boards very rarely exercise this power.
This legal information pamphlet was published by the Prisoners’ Legal Service Inc. with financial assistance from Legal Aid Queensland. It is intended to provide legal information only and is no substitute for legal advice. The information was current as at 31 July 2002.
Should you require further advice, contact PLS advice line which operates Tuesdays and Thursdays between 9.00 am and 1.00 pm. or write to us at the address below.
PRISONERS’ LEGAL SERVICE INC.
PO Box 5162, West End, QLD 4101
LEGAL ADVICE 07 3846 3384 Freecall Queensland only 1800 813 940
Fax: 07 3844 2703 Admin: 07 3846 5074
Email email@example.com Web www.plsqld.com