The Sentence Administration Board

Background to the Sentence Administration Board

The Sentence Administration Board (the Board) makes decisions under the Crimes (Sentence Administration) Act 2005 (the CSA Act) and related regulations (Crimes (Sentence Administration) Regulation 2006,(the Regulation)). The Board’s primary objective is to ensure as far as practicable that the sentences imposed by courts are given effect. Considering the public interest and community safety within a human rights framework underpins the work of the Board.  The Board observes natural justice in its proceedings and decision making.

The Board can make a range of decisions. Most of the Board’s work is exercising ‘supervisory powers’ under the CSA Act for:

  • Granting or refusing parole.
  • Breaches of parole.
  • Breaches of Intensive Corrections Orders (ICOs).
  • Granting or refusing re-instatement of a cancelled ICO
  • Management hearings into parolee progress and compliance in the community.
  • Overseas travel requests by those on parole or subject to an ICO.

The Board is not legally able to deal with all breaches of community corrections orders. Under the Crimes Act 1914 (Commonwealth), the Board does not have jurisdiction to make decisions about parole or breaches of parole or ICOs for federal offenders. These matters are referred by ACT Corrective Services (ACT CS) to the relevant Commonwealth authority or sentencing court. Also, the enactment in 2020 of a COVD-measure and related Guidelines means that ACT CS officers now have the power to deal with a wide range of breaches of parole and ICOs for any offender Crimes (Sentence Administration) COVID-19 Emergency Guidelines 2020 | Notifiable instruments (act.gov.au). The Board has a limited or no role under the measure. This is a major change in arrangements for managing offenders who are serving their sentence in the community in the ACT.

The Board is an administrative body which makes decisions independently and not under the direction of the ACT government or any of its agencies. The Board can only do what legislation authorises it to do. It is not a court and does not have the powers of a court. The CSA Act establishes the Board and provides the primary legislative basis for its operations and decisions; however, other legislation may be relevant depending on the case (e.g. the Human Rights Act 2004 and the Legislation Act 2001).

There are currently 11 members of the Board, three being judicial members (i.e. the Chair and two Deputy Chairs). All members of the Board are appointed by the ACT Attorney-General after a publicly advertised selection process.

When exercising its supervisory powers, the Board is usually made up of three members with one being a judicial member. A judicial member has legal qualifications. Non-judicial members have a range of backgrounds and relevant experience.

The Board is subject to statutory and common law duties, including applying the principles of natural justice and operating in accordance with the Human Rights Act 2004. The rules of evidence do not apply to Board hearings (section 196 of the CSA Act); however, they offer a guide to how hearings are conducted. The Board aims to make hearings both informal and  fair, and to respond to special needs of persons appearing before them, when known and as required.

The Board operates in accordance with the principles of natural justice. The twin pillars of natural justice are firstly, a fair opportunity to be heard and secondly, to have a case heard by a fair-minded person and a body open to its merits. The Board applies these principles in each case before it and its Conflict of Interest and Bias Policy supports adherence to these principles. The Council of Australasian Tribunals has published a Practice Manual for Tribunals (2017) that guides decision-making for tribunals and boards.

The Board usually sits twice per week when resources allow, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In the absence of a venue to conduct in-person hearings safely and due to COVID-19 emergency requirements, the Board currently sits at the premises of ACT CS and conducts all its hearings by teleconference or by using Microsoft Teams software.

The Board’s lists are organised into three divisions that alternate on scheduled sitting days. The divisions are each chaired by the same judicial member, who chairs a Board of three members when exercising supervisory powers. To support efficiency, sound case management and a therapeutic approach to its work, wherever possible cases are adjourned to the same division so that the same judicial member sits on a case until a final decision is made.

Board hearings and outcomes of Board proceedings are not public unless the Board decides otherwise. At times, the Board may decide at the conclusion of proceedings to allow the release of information about the outcome of a matter.

Administrative support for the Board is provided by ACT CS. The Board’s Secretariat is the point of contact for the Board. The Secretariat's contact details are as follows:

ACT Sentence Administration Board
GPO Box 158
Canberra ACT 2601
Phone: (02) 6207 1563
Email:
sab.secretariat@act.gov.au

COVID-19 Public Health Emergency arrangements

Information provided on the webpages for the Sentence Administration Board (the Board) may have changed due to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. Some of  the major changes are shown below.

During the COVID-19 emergency, changes to the laws that apply to the Sentence Administration Board have been enacted. The Board has a temporary discretion to give a warning and not impose a three or seven-day custodial sanction when an offender has breached their Intensive Correction Order (ICO) and already received three warnings for prior breaches of the ICO in a 12-month period.

Also, changes have been made to the usual operations of the Sentence Administration Board. Importantly, the Board currently sits at the premises of ACT CS and conducts all its hearings by teleconference or using Microsoft Teams software to meet COVID-19 Public Health Emergency requirements. Information about changed arrangements for a hearing is set out in the Notice provided to the offender and other parties prior to a hearing. Any inquiries about arrangements for hearing a case can be made to the Board’s Secretariat by telephone: 02 6207 1563 or email: sab.secretariat@act.gov.au

The enactment in 2020 of a COVD-related measure, with its associated guidelines, means that ACT CS officers now have the power to deal with a wide range of breaches of parole and ICOs for any ACT offender Crimes (Sentence Administration) COVID-19 Emergency Guidelines 2020 | Notifiable instruments (act.gov.au). The Board has a limited or no role under the measure. This major change affects the arrangements for managing offenders who are serving their sentence in the community in the ACT.