Women’s Pro-Bono Parole Program
The importance of legal representation during the parole process
The need for greater involvement from legal representatives during the parole process has become an increasingly relevant topic for consideration within the ACT. Whilst the Sentence Administration Board encourages legal representation of offenders and parties appearing before it, the absence of public funding means that the majority of detainees cannot afford to obtain such representation and appear self-represented.
McKenna Taylor has represented many private clients through their parole process, and we have seen firsthand the difference that specialised legal representation can make to the outcome of a proceeding. Having a legal representative to advocate on someone’s behalf can also help to ensure that they are aware of the services available to them and understand the conditions upon which they have been released.
What will the program involve?
When a female detainee inside the AMC is close to the time of becoming eligible for parole, they can be referred by their case worker or any other support person or contact us directly. After referral they will be assigned a lawyer from our firm who will begin working on preparing the application for parole. This will involve face-to-face conferences as required, as well as representation at the parole hearing and in relation to any breaches that may occur once they have been released.
Why do we want to offer this service?
We are passionate about advocating for our clients so that their interests are properly protected. We believe lawyers have a responsibility to provide legal advice to everyone in our community no matter their financial position. As Legal Aid does not currently offer representation for parole hearings in the ACT, we have identified this as an area where our skillset may be the most valuable.
Women and the parole process
McKenna Taylor recognises that female detainees constitute a particularly vulnerable group within the prison population. On average, female detainees are more likely to have suffered a history of sexual abuse or family violence, which can contribute to substance misuse and complex mental health care needs. These kinds of circumstances can complicate an individual’s prospects of being granted parole, which makes the availability of legal representation at parole hearings invaluable to many female detainees. The number of female detainees inside the AMC also provides a manageable cohort for us to work with. As of 1 July 2019, there were a total of 27 female detainees inside the AMC and only 11 of those had been convicted and were potentially facing the prospect of parole. Between our growing team of hard-working lawyers, we believe that our firm has the capacity to offer all female detainees inside the AMC with high quality legal representation during their parole process.
How to register
If you or someone you know would like to apply for legal representation applying for parole and appearing at their hearing, simply contact our office and let us know you would like representation.