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​​​THE HOW TO SERIES: How to prepare for your parole hearing​

What is the process for parole? 

If you are serving a sentence of more than two years, you will become eligible for parole once you have served one third of your sentence. That is unless the court set a longer minimum non-parole period at sentencing. In which case, you will become eligible for parole at the end of your non-parole period.  

When you become eligible for parole, you will receive a letter from the Parole Board (‘the Board’) setting out when your parole hearing will take place. You should be notified of your parole hearing at least three months in advance. This gives you a chance to prepare written submissions to the Board prior to your hearing setting out why you feel you should be released.  

A Parole Assessment Report will also be prepared by your case manager. This report will cover what progress you have made in prison and may include some recommendations for special conditions for your release. You will not have a say in the contents of this report.  

At your parole hearing, the Board may ask you questions about:  

  • How you feel about your offending. 

  • Your criminal history.  

  • What programmes/work/other activities you’ve completed while in prison. 

  • Any progress you’ve made in your sentence management plan.  

  • Your future goals and release plan. 

The Board will then decide whether to grant you parole and what the conditions of your parole will be.  

What will the Parole Board consider when making their decision? 

When making decisions about parole, the paramount consideration for the Board is the safety of the community. The Board will consider the likelihood of further offending, and the nature/seriousness of any likely subsequent offending.  

In order to be granted parole, you need to be able to satisfy the Board that you have adequately reduced your risk of re-offending. It is important to remember that parole is a privilege, not a right. How you prepare for your parole hearing is key in making it a success.  

How do I prepare for my parole hearing? 

Preparing for parole begins the moment you enter prison. How you conduct yourself during your prison sentence will carry a lot of weight with the Board and will help you to demonstrate that you are making an effort to better yourself and reduce your risk of re-offending.  

You should be pro-active in signing up to and completing programmes which are relevant to the nature of your offending and engage with assessments. Seeking out work activities and opportunities for further education will also go a long way in improving your chances of release. 

You should also look to gather letters of support from your friends and whanau.  

As outlined above, you will have a chance to make written submissions to the Board setting out why you feel you should be released on parole. Your submissions should address:  

  • Your offence and why you are unlikely to offend in that way again. 

  • The programmes, assessments, education and/or work activities you have completed and how they have helped reduce the chance of you re-offending.  

  • Your change in attitude and how this has reduced the risk of re-offending.   

You will also need to prepare a release plan which should include:  

  • Where you plan to live when you’re released – this should be a stable and pro-social address.  

  • Any job opportunities/study plans you have lined up. 

  • Any programmes you would like to do after release to help minimise your risk of re-offending.  

You are entitled to request legal representation at your parole hearing. You may find it beneficial to engage a lawyer at an early stage so that they can help you prepare your written submissions and advise you as to any further steps you need to take prior to your parole hearing.  

You can apply for a lawyer under the legal aid scheme by completing a legal aid application form. You can nominate your preferred lawyer on your application or ask legal aid to assign you a lawyer.  

By: Lilian Clemence

If you would like LawAid International’s help in making your parole hearing a success, please contact our office on 0800 LAWAID or by email at  



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