Leave Permits and Release
Length of Sentence
In Tasmania, the courts will normally determine a period of imprisonment, and leave the period of the actual term to either the Parole Board, or the remission system. Amendments have been made to enable a judge to fix a minimum sentence before the person becomes eligible for parole (s19, Sentencing Act 1997 (Tas)).
If a sentence is more than three months, a prisoner automatically receives a third off the period of their sentence, or three months, whichever is greater. This means that someone who has a six-month sentence receives two months off their sentence, leaving them to serve four months – the greater of the two periods.
A remission may be granted for a period of three months off the sentence imposed by the court. No remissions are available for sentences of three months or less and a remission cannot reduce a sentence below three months. (Reg 25, Corrections Regulations 2018) Thus a person sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 12 months, for example, can expect to be released at the end of nine months.
Remissions are granted at the discretion of the Director “by reason of the prisoner’s good conduct and industry”. The impression is that remissions are a ‘privilege’ but the reality, at the time of writing, is that they are given as a matter of course and are not readily reduced. Once reduced they can be reinstated and often are.
A person convicted of escape or attempted escape is not entitled to remission in respect of any period of imprisonment to and including the day on which the escape or attempted escape was made. Even here, however, the Director has a discretion, in ‘exceptional’ circumstances, to grant a special remission.
Remissions are not available to life prisoners or prisoners declared to be dangerous criminals because they serve a sentence of indefinite length. The only way in which they can be released is by being granted parole.
Remissions cannot operate so as to reduce a non-parole period imposed by a court.
The prison may grant a leave permit (for a period not exceeding 72 hours) to enable a prisoner or detainee to leave the prison for a number of reasons including:
- a funeral;
- in cases of illness of a relative or person the prisoner has had a long standing relationship with;
- the arrangement of employment;
- the attendance at an educational or training institution (s42, Corrections Act);
- in the case of Aboriginal prisoners to attend events of cultural significance;
- to take part in a program approved by the Director which is designed to facilitate the prisoners rehabilitation and reintegration into the community.
The leave can be revoked by the Director (s43) and with Ministerial approval under some circumstances the leave permit may be extended for a limited period.