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Home Prison Fact sheets Classification - Special Category and Major Offenders

Classification -- special category and major offenders

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A Special Category prisoner is any prisoner who:

  • has been found unfit to plead or has been found not guilty on the grounds of mental impairment in relation to any charge;
  • has been sentenced to a minimum effective sentence of ten years or more;
  • is serving a sentence for the offence of murder;
  • was a Special Category prisoner and was released on parole and has been returned to custody as a result of cancellation of that parole;
  • has been sentenced to an indefinite term of imprisonment;
  • has been nominated by the Commissioner as a requiring special monitoring while progressing through the prison system because the case may be of special community interest; or requires special attention due to his / her need for intensive program support or high levels of supervision


A Major Offender prisoner is someone who is considered to:

a) be dangerous or high risk because:

  • they pose a significant risk to staff and other prisoners through violent and or predatory behaviour;
  • have an undue or undesirable influence within the criminal hierarchy;
  • they pose an escape risk, or those whose escape from custody would raise the highest levels of concern within the community; and
  • they represent a danger to the State

b) have a high public profile because their offences are viewed as particularly bad by the community, or which attracted significant and ongoing media attention


A note about the asterisk ( * )

Prisoners have an asterisk ascribed to their rating if they are: special category, high profile; major offenders, Identified Drug Users, prisoners who are not legally clear, or those who need special medical treatment or placement, like access to a disabled cell. The asterisk ( * ) which may be placed next to the security rating causes a lot of confusion. A person with an A2* or a B* is NOT a higher security rating than an A2 or B with no asterisk. The asterisk means that:

  • the Sentence Management Unit may monitor more closely the progress of a prisoner; and
  • the R & A Committees are not allowed to approve the lowering of these prisoners’ security ratings and must refer the case to SMU for approval

The asterisk is not to be taken as an indication that the prisoner is to be placed on a more restrictive regime than other prisoners who have the same security rating with no asterisk attached.


Further information

This fact sheet contains general information only and is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice. If you would like advice regarding a specific problem please contact one of the legal services listed in contacts or contact the Law Institute of Victoria's Legal Referral Service on 9607 9311.