Release from prison
When you’ll be released
Sentences for two years or less: When you’ll be released
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.
Sentences for more than two years: When you can be released
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. For example, if you’re sentenced to eight years, the sentencing judge might decide that you have to serve at least four years of the sentence before you can be considered for parole.
So if you’re sentenced to, say, three years’ prison and the sentencing judge didn’t order a non-parole period, you must be considered by the Parole Board for release on parole after 12 months of your sentence.
Life sentence or preventive detention: When you can be released
Parole Act 2002, s 84; Sentencing Act 2002, s 89
If you’re serving a life sentence or preventive detention, then the sentencing judge will have imposed a minimum non-parole period, and you’ll first have to serve that period before you can be considered for parole. If you’re sentenced to life imprisonment, you’ll be given a non-parole period of at least 10 years, but the non-parole period can be a lot longer than this. If you’re sentenced to preventive detention, the non-parole period will be at least five years – but again the sentencing judge can decide to impose a much longer non-parole period than this.