Murderers walking free: An analysis of the release of life sentence prisoners

A. McQuinn*, G. Hall, Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia

 *corresponding author:


Parole board decision-making has a low-profile in Australian scholarship and this analysis of the release of life sentence prisoners in Western Australia is one of the first of its kind. Research in relation to the decision-making process of the parole board has been completed predominantly in the United States and the United Kingdom making it difficult to apply the research to an Australian context.

To address this absence of local research, this analysis uses a sample of 100 cases dealt with by the Western Australian Adult Prisoner Review Board. Conjunctive analysis of case configurations and multinominal logistic regression are amongst the techniques used to analyse these decision-making patterns. The results will be discussed in accordance with attribution theory and prior research in this area.

This research highlights the factors that influence the decision to grant parole, deny parole or recommend the completion of a re-socialisation programme of life sentence prisoners. The analysis also highlights the proportion of life sentence prisoners that are granted parole by the attorney general based on the recommendations made by the Prisoner Review Board of Western Australia. The application of the statistical techniques to the data will not only determine the current combination of variables that produce specific parole outcomes but additionally produce a set of parameters to determine future parole decisions for life sentence prisoners based on their individual circumstances.


The society is devoted to promoting criminological study, research and practice in the region and bringing together persons engaged in all aspects of the field. The membership of the society reflects the diversity of persons involved in the field, including practitioners, academics, policy makers and students.

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