Preparing for Parole

The following will be explained in this section. Please click on each heading to go straight to that section of this page

WHAT IS PAROLE ↑ Back to top

Parole is when you’re released from prison to finish your sentence outside of prison and back in the community. There will be on conditions imposed by the Parole Board. The earliest you can be released on parole is after you’ve served one third of your sentence.
The Parole Board will decide whether or not to grant you parole, and the conditions on which you’ll be paroled.

Parole is a privilege and not a right and in making the decision the Parole Board will consider the risk or likelihood of you re-offending before the sentence ends.
Parole is something that applies only to people who are serving a sentence of more than two years. If your sentence is two years or less, you’ll have to serve half of it. This isn’t negotiable – you’ll serve half, no less and no more. So if you get a two-year sentence you go to prison and you serve 12 months. You will automatically be released after serving half the sentence.
If you’re sentenced to more than two years, then the Parole Board must consider you for parole after you’ve served one third of your sentence. However, if the sentencing judge ordered you to serve a minimum amount of your sentence – called a “non-parole period” – you can’t be considered for parole until that minimum period is up.

WHAT IS THE PROCESS? ↑ Back to top

When you’re eligible for parole you’ll be sent a letter saying when the Parole Board will consider your case and give you a chance to make a written submission to the Board (this is a letter where you put your case for why you should be released on parole). The Parole Board must consider your case as soon as practicable after you become eligible for parole.
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The key to a successful parole is preparation.
Your person's Case Manager will begin their internal work three months prior to the parole hearing.
It is advisable for the family and your person to start preparing earlier.

You will need:

- A lawyer (it is highly recommended)
- A personal Submission from the person you are supporting (See below for details)
- Submission letters that can be sent in to the Parole Board on behalf, from friends and family to support that person's parole. These can be sent in via your lawyer.

In their submissions, they can write any information they want the Board to consider but focus should stay on the most important and persuasive information.

Most importantly, factors that will help them not re-offend.

It’s recommended that this is typed and printed one sided.

Include information about:

  • Programmes, education, work or other activities - anything they’ve been involved in at prison that they feel has helped reduce the chance of them re-offending eg. courses, work or education completed while in prison, what differences it makes to their future. Include any relevant paperwork, such as certificates, feedback and final exit reports from their programmes. They should attach them to their submission
  • Restorative justice (Click here for more info) – If they’ve taken part in restorative justice prior to sentencing, then describe the process and what they feel they gained from taking part. If they got a restorative justice report at the end of the process, attach that to their submission too. Restorative justice can be very hard to access whilst serving time in prison – if they didn’t have a chance to become involved in a restorative justice process but they would have liked to, tell the Parole Board. Be aware that sometimes there are conditions that would have prevented access to Restorative Justice - like a non contact order with victims of their offence.
  • Change of attitude – They may want to describe how their attitudes have changed during their time in prison and why they feel this has reduced the risk of them re-offending. For example, they may feel that while they used to become violent easily before they came to prison, this has now changed.
  • Release Plans
- Support - They can write about you, as the family and what kind of support you can provide them, as well as any other key support people in their life (like community groups) and how they’ll help them if they’re released.
- Where they plan to live when they’re released – it’s much harder to get parole if they don’t have a stable place to live sorted out. (see for assistance)
- Any job or study options they have lined up or are trying to organise, and what they plan to do if they don’t have a job.
- Any programs they’d like to do after release that would ensure the safety of the community and help them to not re-offend. This could include counseling, or a community residential (live-in) program, or being placed in the care of some person or organisation such as their whānau, hapū or iwi or a cultural or religious group. They should attach any letters, assessments or reports that they’ve had from the programme to help the Parole Board understand clearly what their plan is.
- It is worth including how they are going to handle specific situations should they arise, and what they’ve learnt through courses they’ve done while incarcerated, books they’ve read, etc
- While there may be additional cost involved, letters from a psychologist and/or counsellor can strengthen your persons submission and aid them with their rehabilitation leading up to parole.
- The Parole Board will have a report from your Case Manager, called a Parole Assessment Report, which will cover what progress your person has made in prison. If this is not their first hearing, the report will cover what progress they have made since their last hearing and if the Parole Board made some recommendations, what they have done to address those recommendations. This report might also include any further steps the prison feels your person should take to address their offending and special conditions the Parole Board could impose should they release you.
  • Get details of their parole eligibility (such as when the hearing is and ask case manager what family could help with
  • Obtain a Lawyer - Apply for Legal Aid if required and discuss what needs to be done
  • Personal Submission
    - Programs achieved while in prison
    - Work carried out while in prison
    - Restorative Justice before sentencing
    - Books read that helped
  • Gather certificates or other documentation showing courses or education undertaken while in prison
  • Prepare for Whānau Hui
    (Discuss accomodation, who else lives there, what type of support they have at that accomodation, what help do they need if released?
  • Accommodation Plan - Back up plan if initial address isnt suitable
  • Job Plan
  • Potential community or skill programs to achieve on release
  • Obtain Case Manager Parole Assessment Report
  • Obtain any reports/support letters from Counsellor or Psychologist
  • Obtain Letters from support people
    (Including Family, Friends, Potential Employers, Churches, Iwi, Community Programs)
A downloadable PDF is available here to print

Should you experience issues when following our guidance above or a procedure that an organisation has stipulated has not been followed, please get in touch with us here. We aim to have the best and most up to date information on our website and believe in accountability for those providing care to our loved ones.
See our full policies here