Public confidence in parole: Views of parole board members from four countries

Dr Robin Fitzgerald1, Professor Lorana Bartels2, Emeritus Professor Arie Freiberg3, Dr Shannon Dodd1

1The University Of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia, 2Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, 3Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

Against the backdrop of increasingly restrictive policies and practices regarding parole release, ostensibly aimed at addressing public opposition to, or fear of, parole, this study considers public confidence in parole from the perspectives of parole board members themselves. Different arguments have been advanced about how to address public confidence and criminal justice policy, ranging from passive to active forms of engagement (Loader 2011). Data for the study were drawn from semi-structured qualitative interviews conducted with 80 parole board members across 11 parole authorities in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Scotland. The study builds on the existing literature relating to public opinion on sentencing and parole by attempting to determine whether and, if so, how, public opinion influences parole decision-making, directly or indirectly, how parole authorities engage with the public in an attempt to ensure that they are provided with accurate information regarding the role and operation of parole, and whether they feel that engagement is effective. Results show that parole authorities are influenced in different ways by public opinion and that they hold a range of views about whether and how to increase public confidence in parole board processes.


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