When life means what the minister says it means: The need to reform parole laws for prisoners serving life sentences in Western Australia
University of Western Australia Law Review
University of Western Australia
School of Arts and Humanities
Parole allows for the early, supervised release of people from prison, to support a safe transition to the community. In most Australian jurisdictions, the relevant parole authority is the final arbiter of the decision-making process. However, in Western Australia, if the person is serving a sentence of life (or indefinite) imprisonment, the final decision is made by the Governor, in consultation with the Executive Council, on the recommendation of the Minister. This paper argues that the current process is problematic for several reasons, namely, the politicisation of parole, concerns around public opinion on parole, the undermining of the independence of parole, the unnecessary nature of the Minister's involvement, and, perhaps most concerningly, the procedural fairness implications of this process. This is an issue that currently affects over 300 people in Western Australia. We therefore call for the removal of all political interference from the process and suggest that the final decision should be brought under the umbrella of the parole board, as is the case in most other Australian jurisdictions.