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Prisoner's rights

Release from prison

Temporary release

What is temporary release?

Corrections Act 2004, ss 62-64A

Temporary release is short-term release from prison, where you have to return after a set time.

There are two types of temporary release:

  • Temporary release from custody – this means you’re released unsupervised, but must return within a certain time.
  • Temporary removal from prison – this is where you leave the prison but are supervised by a prison officer or probation officer.

What can I get temporary release for?

Corrections Regulations 2005, regs 27, 29

You can get temporary release for a range of reasons, including for example:

  • visiting family or close friends who are seriously ill
  • working or job training, or going to a job interview
  • going to rehabilitation or reintegration assessments or activities
  • visiting a marae or other community facility for educational or cultural purposes
  • tangi, funerals or unveilings for whānau or close friends
  • restorative justice meetings
  • family group conferences
  • medical or dental appointments that you can’t get in prison
  • giving birth or being at your child’s birth, or visiting your newborn child
  • things you need to do when it’s getting near to your release date, like getting clothes you need for your release or going to an appointment with Work and Income

Can I apply for temporary release?

Corrections Regulations 2005, regs 26, 28

Every prisoner can apply for temporary removal with supervision.

You can apply for temporary release without supervision if you fit one of the following descriptions:

  • your sentence is two years or less and you’re minimum security
  • your sentence is more than two years, you’re minimum security, and you’re now eligible for parole
  • your sentence is more than two years, you’re low or low-medium security, and the Parole Board has given you a release date.

You can apply up to six weeks before you will come under one of those three categories.

Some things will make it hard for you to get temporary release if:

  • you’ve had a release in the past and not followed the conditions
  • you’ve escaped before
  • you’re a gang member and Corrections thinks you’ll meet up with gang members.

Sometimes if you’ve applied for a temporary release you’ll get a temporary removal instead, which means you’ll be supervised or escorted while you’re on the outside.

How do I apply for temporary release?

Talk to your case manager or PCO (“principal corrections officer” – the senior prison officer in your unit) to get the application form for temporary release and to get more information about applying.

You’ll often need a “sponsor” approved by the prison system (for example, a family member) who will supervise you while you’re on temporary release.

How does the prison decide whether I’ll get temporary release?

Corrections Act 2004, s 62

It’s decided case-by-case. Your case manager makes a recommendation to the prison manager, and the manager makes the final decision. Sometimes the Probation Service also investigates your request.

The case manager and prison manager will consider things like:

  • the safety of the public
  • the effect on any victims of your offending
  • whether a temporary release would not be good for the purpose of your time in prison, and whether the public would think it wasn’t a good idea
  • the likelihood of you re-offending while on release
  • your welfare and any changes in your attitude since being in prison – in other words, whether temporary release will be good for you
  • your rehabilitation needs
  • how serious your offence was
  • any arguments you’ve put forward for why you should be given temporary release.

What conditions will there be?

If you’re given temporary release, there will usually be conditions that you:

  • don’t drive
  • don’t have contact with any victims of your offending, anyone with a family violence protection order against you, and sometimes other specified people
  • don’t have any alcohol or drugs
  • you may be subject to electronic monitoring (e.g. an electronic monitoring bracelet).

There will probably be other conditions as well.

Your sponsor will be told in writing about the conditions and about what to do if they’re concerned about you.

Can I challenge the decision if I’m refused temporary release?

Yes, you can ask for a review of the decision by the prison. You can also complain to the prison or directly to the Inspector of Corrections or to the Ombudsman. However, temporary release is not a right and it can be refused.

You’re entitled to be given written reasons if your application is refused.

Next Section | Home detention

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Release from prison

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