Changes to parole – the introduction of Re-integration Home Detention Orders (RHDO’s)
On 28 May 2018, changes to the laws surrounding parole in NSW came into effect under the Parole Legislation Amendment Act 2017.
The major change is the introduction of a “Reintegration Home Detention” scheme.
Reintegration Home Detention Orders (RHDO)
The reintegration home detention scheme allows for eligible offenders to be released on home detention for a period of up to 6 months before a period on parole. This is to allow a period of transition between custody and parole. It also provides opportunities to connect with employment, community based counselling and to re-establish family and social support. Offenders will be required to remain home unless an outing has been pre-approved. Offenders will also be required to submit to electronic monitoring and participate in programs or treatment such as urine analysis or counselling.
Reintegration home detention is not available for an offender who is serving a sentence for the following offences:
- A domestic violence offence
- A child sexual offence
- A serious sex offence
- A serious violence offence
- A terrorism offence
Except for serious offenders, an assessment can still be carried out for a RHDO and an order can still be made if the offender will no longer be serving a sentence for an excluded offence on the commencement of the order.
If a Community Corrections Officer considers that an offender may be suitable for a RHDO, they may arrange for an assessment report to be prepared. Assuming the offender is assessed as suitable, a request can be made to the Parole Authority for a RHDO, which can then be made or refused by the Authority.
The Authority may make an RHDO directing that an offender be released, subject to home detention conditions if:
- A request has been made relating to the offender;
- The offender is serving at least 1 sentence for which the non-parole period has not expired and would be eligible to be released on parole on the expiry of the RHDO
- The Authority has decided to release the person on parole (for sentences greater than 3 years) or has not revoked the statutory parole order (for sentences less than 3 years)
- The Authority is satisfied that it is in the interests of the safety of the community to make the order
- The offender has been assessed as a suitable person
- The offender has signed an undertaking to comply with the obligations under the order
When deciding if such an order is in the interests of the safety of the community, the Authority must have regard to:
- The risk to the safety of members of the community
- Whether the release of the offender is likely to address the risk of re-offending
- The nature and circumstances of the offence
- Relevant comments made by the sentencing court
- The offender’s criminal history
- The likely effect on the victim/the victim’s family
- If applicable, whether the offender has failed to disclose the location of the remains of a victim
- Reports prepared by Community Corrections officers or by or on behalf of the Review Council
- If applicable, whether the Drug Court has refused to make a compulsory drug treatment order
- If an application has been made for an extended supervision order or continuing detention order
- Any post sentence assistance by the offender
Review, revocation or suspension of an order
If such an order is made, the Authority can at some later stage, review, revoke or suspend the order if for example there has been a breach, or non-compliance with the order. Additionally, the Commissioner of Police can apply to the Authority for an interim suspension of an RHDO.
What to do next?
If someone you know is coming up to their eligibility for release on parole, you should obtain legal advice to see if they are eligible to apply for an RHDO.
Disclaimer: The above information contains a basic summary of the amendments to the legislation as at 28 May 2018. It is not legal advice. If you need legal advice, you should speak to a lawyer.