​​​​​​​
You are here: Skip breadcrumbAttorney-General's Department >> Crime >> Federal offenders >> Early release of federal prisoners

Contact details

 Early release of federal prisoners

This information is for people convicted of Commonwealth offences.

State and territory offenders should refer to state and territory corrective services websites.

On this page:

Early release on licence
Release up to 30 days before the end of a non-parole period
Get more information

Early release on licence

A person may be granted early release on licence on the basis of extensive cooperation with law enforcement authorities that was not taken into account by the sentencing court or that took place after the person had been sentenced. 

In these cases, the department will request information from the relevant law enforcement authorities.

A person may be granted early release on licence if they are suffering from a serious medical condition that cannot be adequately treated or managed within the prison system.

In these cases, the department may seek medical records in relation to the prisoner. In such matters, the department requests the prisoner to provide a signed consent form authorising the release of their medical records. This authorisation is included in the attached form.

Release on licence on compassionate grounds is only justified in extreme circumstances. Prisoners' families inevitably suffer varying degrees of hardship and distress because of the imprisonment of a family member. Further, the Explanatory Memorandum specifically states that excellent conduct, remorse or contrition or family hardship (unless of an extreme kind) would not normally constitute exceptional circumstances.

Apply for early release on licence

Complete the below form and apply through your prison’s Sentence Management or through your individual case manager.

Prison medical authorities, a solicitor or a person acting on your behalf can also make an application.

You must apply in writing.

You must specify the exceptional circumstances you are using to justify the grant of the licence. You will need to provide any supporting information and evidence.

The application process

In considering applications, we may seek more information from you or seek comments on the claims made in the application from agencies involved in the case such as the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, the Australian Federal Police and state and territory departments of corrective services.

We may provide your application and any supporting material to the relevant agencies as part of this process. This is done in accordance with our privacy policy. We will tell you if agencies raise matters adverse to your application, and give you an opportunity to respond.

If you have an appeal pending, we will not usually progress your application for early release until the appeal has been finalised.

Legislation covering early release on licence

Applications for early release on licence are subject to the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth).

Under section 19AP of the Act, the Attorney-General, or a delegate may grant a licence for a person serving a federal sentence to be released from prison. Subsection 19AP(4) provides that the Attorney-General must not grant a licence under this section unless he or she is satisfied that exceptional circumstances exist which justify the grant of the licence.

Subsection 19AP(4A) provides that the Attorney-General may have regard to:

  • any extensive cooperation by the person with law enforcement agencies before sentencing that the sentencing court did not take into account, or
  • any extensive cooperation by the person with law enforcement agencies after sentencing, or
  • any serious medical condition the person has that cannot adequately be treated or managed with the prison system.

This subsection does not limit the matters to which the Attorney-General may have regard and all applications are considered on a case by case basis.

Under subsection 19AP(5), the Attorney-General or a delegate is not required to consider more than one application for early release on licence per year. Generally, subsequent applications will be considered where new circumstances have occurred since the original application was made or there has been a significant change to the existing grounds for the original application.

Release – up to 30 days before the end of a non-parole period

Under section 19AL(3A) of the Act, if the Attorney-General, or delegate considers that in all the circumstances it is appropriate to do so, the Attorney-General may specify in a parole order that a person is to be released from prison on a day that is before the end of the non-parole period, but is not earlier than 30 days before the end of the non-parole period.

Release up to 30 days before the end of a non-parole period is generally only granted where there is an urgent need for a person to be released early.  An example may be where a specific event directly related to the prisoner's rehabilitation is scheduled to occur in the 30 days before the expiry of the prisoner's non parole period. Early parole is not granted as a form of recognition for remorse, good prison behaviour or good rehabilitation prospects.

Apply for release up to 30 days before the end of a non-parole period

Complete the attached form and apply through your prison’s Sentence Management or through your individual case manager.

You must apply in writing.

You should specify the circumstances you are using to justify early release.

All supporting information and evidence should be provided by the applicant and

Applications may also be made by the prison medical authorities, a solicitor or a person on behalf of the prisoner.

The application process

Applications are considered on a case by case basis.

They are often considered at the same time a prisoner is considered for release on parole.

In considering applications, we may seek more information from you or seek comments on the claims made in your application from agencies involved in the case. For example, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, the Australian Federal Police and state and territory departments of corrective services.

We may provide your application and any supporting material to the relevant agencies as part of this process. This is done in accordance with our privacy policy. We will tell you if agencies raise matters adverse to your application, and give you an opportunity to respond.

The Commonwealth Parole Office treats all information we hold in accordance with our privacy policy.

If you have an appeal pending, we will not usually progress your application for early release until the appeal has been finalised.

Get more information

For more information, email the Commonwealth Parole Office at cpo@ag.gov.au

You can also write to:

Principal Legal Officer
Commonwealth Parole Office
Attorney-General's Department
3-5 National Circuit
BARTON ACT 2600​​