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Parole Eligibility
Information kindly provided by the New Zealand Parole Board

The functions of the Board are set out in the Parole Act 2002. This Act sets out when an offender must be seen by the Board and what processes the Board must follow in conducting hearings.

The Parole Act 2002 and the Sentencing Act 2002 substantially replace the Criminal Justice Act 1985, but offenders sentenced under the Criminal Justice Act are still subject to that legislation.

Eligibility for parole is determined under the Parole Act 2002. Eligibility for parole is no guarantee of release – it simply means an offender is entitled to a hearing in front of the Board.

Under the Parole Act 2002:
  • Offenders serving short-term sentences (less than two years) automatically serve half of their sentence and are released without appearing before the Board.
  • Offenders serving determinate (fixed) long-term sentences (more than two years) become eligible to be considered by the Board for parole after serving one-third of their sentence. This is their Parole Eligibility Date (PED). This does not mean they will automatically be released but, by law, they must be seen by the Board.
  • Offenders serving life sentences become eligible for parole after serving 10 years, unless they have been given a minimum non-parole period by the Judge sentencing them. If they have been given a minimum non-parole period, they become eligible for parole once they have reached that point.
  • Offenders serving sentences of preventive detention are required, at sentencing, to be given a minimum non-parole period of at least five years. They become eligible for parole once they have reached that point.
Under the Criminal Justice Act 1985:
  • Offenders serving short-term sentences (one year or less) had to be released after serving half of their sentence.
  • Offenders serving long-term sentences (more than one year) but not classified as
  • Serious Violent Offenders become eligible for parole after serving one-third of their sentence.
  • Offenders classified as Serious Violent Offenders do not become eligible for parole, but must be released after serving two-thirds of their sentence (this is known as an offender’s Final Release Date), unless they are the subject of an order under Section 107 of the Parole Act to keep them in prison.
  • Offenders serving sentences of life or preventive detention become eligible for parole after serving 10 years, unless they have been given minimum a non-parole period by the Judge sentencing them. If they have been given a minimum non-parole period, they become eligible for parole once they have reached that point.
Effectively, this means that while most offenders sentenced under the Criminal Justice Act have to be released after serving two-thirds of their sentence, under the Parole Act offenders can be kept in prison for their entire sentence, or until the Board is satisfied they no longer pose an undue risk to the community.

Next related article: Forward to Historical Parole OutcomesHistorical Parole Outcomes
Prev related article: Back to Structured Decision-MakingStructured Decision-Making

Back to The New Zealand Parole Board Index
 

Eligibility for parole is determined under the Parole Act 2002.

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