R.02 Early release for seriously ill prisoner
The purpose of these procedures is to ensure that prisoners who have a serious illness from which they are unlikely to recover are advised that they may be eligible to be considered by the New Zealand Parole Board (NZPB) for early release on compassionate grounds. Where practicable, the application must progress through to the NZPB within the timeframes indicated in R.02.Res.02 Compassionate Release Applications flowchart.
R.02.01 Advice to prisoner of early release on compassionate grounds
- The health centre manager advises the following personnel, by emailing the Notification of Serious Illness Form once a prisoner is diagnosed with a serious illness and is unlikely to recover:
- the prison director
- the prisoner's unit Principal Corrections Officer (PCO) or a staff member assigned by the prison director
- Senior Advisor Office of the National Commissioner
- Health Services Regional Operations Manager
- Health Quality & Practice Team
- Regional Commissioner
- Chief Custodial Officer
- Upon receiving the Notification of Serious Illness form advising that a prisoner is seriously ill and is unlikely to recover, the unit PCO or an assigned staff member must interview the prisoner within the initial 24 hour period and: -
- provide the prisoner with a copy of R.02.Form.01 Notice to prisoner of compassionate release process
- explain to the prisoner their right to apply to the NZPB for release on compassionate grounds.
- If the prisoner is not capable of making an application themselves, the prison director will make an application where necessary on the prisoner’s behalf if requested, or due to the prisoner’s circumstances.
Health and Custodial staff must communicate to the prison director any significant changes in the health status or prognosis of the prisoner that may occur and have bearing on the urgency of the application.
R.02.02 Applying for compassionate release
- If the prisoner wishes to make an application for compassionate release, they are to be provided with an R.02.Form.03 Application by the prisoner for compassionate release. This form provides the authority for the prison to release the applicant's information about themselves to the NZPB as well as their release plan proposal. Staff will assist the prisoner to complete the application.
- As per Section 41(1)(b) of the Parole Act 2002, the NZPB may direct the release of a prisoner who is “seriously ill and unlikely to recover”. For the purpose of this process, the Department has provided the following guidance for staff to use as a starting point when identifying prisoners who may be eligible for release under this Section of the Act:
- Terminal medical conditions:
Life-limiting illness, usually cancer or end stage organ failure and a likely life expectancy of 18 months or less.
- Debilitating medical conditions:
Incurable, progressive illness or injury, which includes debilitating cognitive illness such as Alzheimer’s disease, and unable to maintain basic self-care.
- Terminal medical conditions:
- It should be noted that the guidance above is not to be treated as set criteria which must be met in order for a prisoner to be considered for compassionate release. Any eligible prisoner may submit an application for compassionate release if they wish to do so.
Once notified that they may be eligible, a prisoner can at any stage reconsider and apply for compassionate release.
Staff will assist the prisoner with any application regardless of whether the prisoner had declined to submit an application previously.
- On receipt of the R.02.Form.03 Application by the prisoner for compassionate release, the PCO or the staff member who is assigned by the prison director will commence the R.02.Form.04 Application for Compassionate Release.
- The PCO or the assigned staff member will update the IOMS offender note (Health) to record that the prisoner is making, has made (a previous application) or is not making an application for compassionate release.
- The PCO or assigned staff member will need to engage with the allocated Case Manager and their Principal Case Manager at the earliest opportunity to advise of the application for Compassionate Release.
- Where there is no allocated Case Manager, the PCO or assigned staff member will need to engage with the Principal Case Manager/s for assistance.
- The Case Manager or Principal Case Manager will be able to assist the PCO or assigned staff member with the majority of the information needed in the risk summary, release proposal / primary relationship, special conditions sections and the Community Enquiry for Compassionate Release Form.
The PCO or assigned staff member will work with the Case Manager or Principal Case Manager to complete the Community Enquiry for Compassionate Release Form to help Community Corrections to complete their community enquiry as soon as possible.
This form is to be completed in conjunction with the Case Manager or Principal Case Manager and sent to the Service Managers and District Manager of the proposed release site / area.
- that where a proposed release address exists that the details are valid and current.
- that no conditions exist which would preclude the suitability (e.g. VNR checks) of the proposed address or nominated support persons.
- that the Community Corrections assessment will commence once the details submitted have been confirmed as suitable for the application.
Prior to contacting Community Corrections, the Case Manager will confirm:
- The Community Enquiry for Compassionate Release Form will include the normal information check with Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Children as part of the proposed living arrangements check (residential / sponsor check) and input from the HRT, with information regarding any identified risks.The Community Corrections assessment, including any recommended release or special conditions will be included in the R.02.Form.04 Application for Compassionate Release.
R.02.03 Assess living arrangements and risks
- The prison director or assigned staff member must ensure that Community Corrections has consulted with their respective regional High Risk Team (HRT).
- Consider contacting HRT if the prisoner:
- meets criteria for an Extended Supervision Order
- is subject to an indeterminate sentence (Life), including preventative detention
- is a youth (under 20 years of age) with a RoC / Rol of 0.8 (or higher) with violent or sexual convictions
- is a child sex offender
- has a high media profile
- has complex needs.
- The HRT will identify and provide information collated in consultation with Senior Advisors Community Engagement and Reintegration (SACEAR) that will or may identify any risks to community safety. HRT will liaise directly with Probation staff that may have been assigned to the application.
- On completion of the Community Enquiry for Compassionate Release Form:
- the prison director or assigned staff member will send a request to the district manager and service manager of the Community Corrections site nearest to the proposed release residence.
- Community Corrections will undertake an assessment of the suitability of the address as per the guidance for assessing parole address suitability in the supported decision framework.
- a probation officer will carry out a suitability assessment of the address at the earliest opportunity.
All parties assigned to the application by either a prison director or a district manager, are to ensure that all correspondence and information shared between interested parties is coordinated and communicated efficiently within the recommended timeframes, as indicated in R.02.Res.02 Compassionate Release Applications flowchart.
Prior to submission of the application, the PCO or allocated staff member must ensure that all the relevant documents to the application are available for review by the NZPB.
This must include any updates of the applicant’s medical condition from Health Centre Managers, Hospital or Specialists, particularly if they have bearing on the urgency of the application.
All documents that are collated and specific to the prisoner’s application are to be scanned and placed in a secure G drive folder accessible to the NZPB.
All hard copies of documents are to be placed on the prisoner’s file (Section A).
Offender notes are to be entered in IOMS to record key updates in the progress of the application and the outcome decision.
R.02.04 Referral and decision of NZPB
- The application by the prisoner (R.02.Form.04 Application for Compassionate Release) and the completed prison directors report, together with a link to all supporting attachments must be emailed to the Senior Advisor, office of the National Commissioner, email: officeofNC@corrections,govt,nz.
- The R.02.Form.04 Application for Compassionate Release and the R.02.Form.03 Application by the prisoner for compassionate release will be checked by the Senior Advisor, Office of the National Commissioner and sent by secure (SEEmail) to Manager, New Zealand Parole Board (NZPB).
- The NZPB is responsible for making the decision on whether the prisoner is to be released, not the Department of Corrections.
- If the Chairperson decides to refer the application to the NZPB then the Board’s decision will be recorded in the Department’s Integrated Offender Management System (IOMS).
- If the Chairperson decides not to refer the application to the NZPB, the Chairperson will write to the prisoner advising of this decision with a copy to the prison director. The prison director will arrange for the IOMS offender note (Health) to be updated detailing the decision of the Chairperson. The Manager, New Zealand Parole Board will advise the Senior Advisor, Office of the National Commissioner.
- If the prisoner circumstances change (e.g. there is a change in their prognosis or they are deceased) that could affect the application, after the referral to NZPB, the prison director must advise the NZPB forthwith.
Regardless if the prisoner has been previously declined, if the prisoner’s circumstances change, such as medical status and prognosis or suitability of accommodation then the prisoner may reapply for compassionate release.
R.02.05 Applications by a third party
- The NZPB will notify the Senior Advisor, Office of the National Commissioner, email officeofNC@corrections.govt.nz when they have received an application for release on compassionate grounds from a third party.
- The Senior Advisor, Office of the National Commissioner, will immediately check if there is a notification via the Notification of Senior Illness Form that the prisoner meets the criteria (seriously ill and unlikely to recover). The Senior Advisor, Office of the National Commissioner will:
- advise the NZPB if no notification has been made (i.e. does not meet the criteria), or
- will contact the prison director if there is notification (i.e. does meet the criteria) to ascertain if the prisoner wishes to make an application.
- The Senior Advisor, Office of the National Commissioner will advise NZPB if the prisoner:
- does not wish to make an application.
The NZPB will then write to the third party applicant advising such.
- does wish to make an application and that the process prescribed in R.02.02 Applying for compassionate release above will be commenced (an application / authority from the prisoner and a report from the prison director will be provided to the Chairperson).
- does not wish to make an application.