As a rule, it is age that determines whether young offenders can apply for parole.
The age groups that dictate whether you get parole as a young offender are:
- Young adults between 18 and 21 years old.
- Juveniles who are under 18 years old.
What does parole mean for young offenders? It means they can leave prison or get released from custody before the end of their sentence. But, they will be kept under some kind of supervision after leaving prison.
Often, you must apply for parole yourself. But in some cases, the government will apply for you. It depends on what type of prison sentence you are serving.
The prison staff will help you get a solicitor. They are legal advisers who help young offenders get parole. In some cases you might be eligible for legal aid to help cover the costs.
Note: The rules for parole are different for adults. Parole procedures for young offenders also differ in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
When Can Young Offenders Apply for Parole?
Young offenders can apply for parole if they are:
- Serving a fixed-term sentence and in custody for at least 4 years.
- Not eligible for automatic release halfway through their sentence.
You can apply 6 months before your ‘tariff’ expires. Often, that is halfway through the sentence. A tariff is the minimum amount of time the court ordered you to stay in prison.
When the Government Applies for You
In the UK, the government will apply for parole for young offenders who are serving a life sentence. But, parole is only considered after they serve out their tariff.
They will contact you:
- 3 years before your tariff runs out if you are serving a 4 year sentence or longer.
- At least 6 months before the tariff runs out for those serving a shorter sentence.
Where to get Help
There are several places that young offenders can get help. The staff at your detention center can help as well as supporters outside. The Offender Management Unit can give you the name and contact number of your case manager. You can get help from:
- Your solicitor
- Your prisoner offender supervisor or case administrator
- Prison or custodial staff members
Note: There is extra support available for the family and friends of young offenders.
Qualifying for Legal Aid
Check to see if you qualify for legal aid to help pay for the costs when you apply for parole.
Help from Support Organisations
You can also contact these outside support organisations for further help:
- Howard League
- Prisoners Advice Service
- Prison Reform Trust
The Parole Board can help with advice on parole procedures for young offenders.
How Young Offenders Apply for Parole
- First you must fill in a parole application form. Get the form from the staff where you are being imprisoned. Do this 6 months before the first date that you could get released. The official term for this is your ‘parole eligibility date‘.
- You should include a statement of why you think you should get released. Add any other information that you think is relevant to your particular case file.
- The Parole Board may decide they can release you based on your case file. But, if they cannot decide you will need to attend a parole hearing, often called an ‘oral hearing‘.
Young Offender Case Files
Staff working in your unit will make a case file. It will include information about your life inside a prison and:
- Your offence and any previous convictions.
- Your general behaviour inside the prison.
- Your plans after you get released.
- Any other information that may help the Parole Board make a decision.
Note: Often, a victim personal statement also goes in your case file. The document states how the victim feels about you getting released from prison.
Getting a Decision on Parole for a Young Offender
The Parole Board send you a letter a few days after they make a decision. It explains what they have decided for your parole request and why they came to their decision.
Note: Parole procedures for young offenders can take up to 6 months to complete.
What Happens Next If You Get Parole?
If you get parole, your release takes place on the first date that you can take parole (or as soon as possible). But, you will have supervision when you leave. The judiciary system calls this being on probation or ‘on licence’.
What Happens If You Do Not Get Parole?
If you fail to get parole your case gets sent back to the Parole Board at regular intervals.
Challenging a Parole Board Decision
In fact prisoners cannot appeal against a Parole Board decision. But in some cases they can apply for a judicial review.