The parole process for all prisoners begins six months before you are eligible for release on parole. A dossier will be compiled to go before the Parole Board and you will be shown these reports. An interview is then arranged with a member of the Parole Board and after this record has been shown to you it is placed with the other papers. You should be told whether parole has been granted three weeks before you are eligible for release and reasons for the decision will be given. The release dates of long and short-term prisoners will be subject to postponement if additional day awards have been made as punishment for disciplinary offences.
The Home Secretary has power to release any prisoner on compassionate grounds in exceptional circumstances. This power is normally reserved for prisoners who are in the advanced stages of a terminal illness. If you are so released, you will be subject to supervision up to the three-quarters point in your sentence – or, for those serving less than twelve months, the halfway point.
On release, personal belongings are returned. Suitable clothing will be provided if the prisoner’s clothing is inadequate. Money received on reception will be returned and most prisoners will be eligible for a discharge grant. Those serving less than fourteen days are not entitled to the discharge grant, though the prison authorities may give a subsistence allowance to enable you to get to the local DSS office. A travel warrant to an address in the United Kingdom will also be given.
Prisoners may be released for a set period, usually between two and five days on the authority of the prison governor. This can be for compassionate reasons, such as attendance at a funeral or for medical treatment, or on resettlement licence. Before temporary release can be granted, you must pass a risk assessment carried out in the prison. Compassionate temporary release can be granted at any point in you sentence, but is not available if you are a category A prisoner. A resettlement licence can be granted after you have reached your parole eligibility date, but if parole is refused, the application will be suspended for a period of six months. If you are serving less than four years, you can make an application to be released after serving one-third of your sentence.
Lifers are not eligible for temporary release until moved to open prison. However, you can apply for escorted town visits once you are in a category C prison.
Various Criminal Justice Acts have updated the parole system hense, different systems apply dpending on when the sentence was passed.
If sentenced before October 1992 you are liable to a different set of release and licence dates than those sentenced after that date. It is recommended that you get advice on parole and licence dates given the many changes that have been made.
Current Criminal Justice Acts
If you are serving less than four years you will be released halfway through your sentence. If you are serving twelve months or less release is unconditional. Those serving over twelve months will be released on licence until the three-quarters point of your sentence. Conditions can be attached to the licence: To attend medical treatment, not to take certain types of jobs, not to communicate with certain people.
If you breach your licence you can be recalled to prison until the three-quarters point of your sentence.
After release if you commit any offence punishable by imprisonment from the time of your release and the date when your original sentence runs out, then you will have to serve the rest of the original sentence which is outstanding at the time of the new offence.
Those serving four years or more the rules are as follows: you will be up for release on parole when half of the sentence has been served; at the two-thirds stage you will be released automatically on a non-parole licence. Recommendations by the Parole Board to release prisoners serving fifteen years or more must be approved by the Secretary of State.
From the two-thirds automatic release point and the three-quarters point in the overall sentence, the risk factor with regard to further offences which are imprisonable apply for short-term prisoners. If given prison sentence whilst on licence, this stands as a sentence in its own right and will be ordered to be served consecutively with any further sentences.
Long-term prisoners in breach of licence conditions may be recalled to prison and if this is the case, you are likely to remain in prison until the three-quarters point of the original sentence. If recalled, you must be told of the reasons for recall and can appeal against the decision . If this happens your licence will run until the end of your sentence and if you breach this licence again, then you can be held until your sentence expires.
Criminal Justice Act 2003
The CJA 2003 contained changes to the current sentencing and parole system which were introduced gradually throughout 2004. It introduced a new range of sentences such as intermittent custody this involved people spending part of the week in prison and part in the community. Also it introduced a system where prisoners convicted of offences that are not violent or sexual will receive parole automatically at the halfway point of their sentence.
The CJA 2003 created two new kinds of sentences, one for under twelve months and one for twelve months and above, both of which include periods on licence. Custody Plus replaced the current custodial sentence of less than twelve months. The court decides the total length of the sentence, which must be no longer than 51 weeks and then apportion it between a custodial period and a licence period. The custodial period must be at least two weeks and cannot be more than 13 weeks. The licence time must be at least six months and is subject to conditions. The court sets the licence conditions. If the offender breaches the licence conditions he or she will be recalled to custody for part or all of the remaining period.
Where sentences are of twelve months or over, offenders will be released automatically at the halfway point, irrespective of the length of the sentence. Offenders will remain on licence until the end of their sentence, subject to recall.