1. Is parole the same as probation?
No. Probation is a period of supervision in the community imposed
by the court as an alternative to imprisonment. Parole is the release of a prisoner
to supervision in the community after he/she has completed a part of his/her sentence
in an institution.
2. Can an offender be allowed to see his or her file before
The Notice of Hearing form will tell the offender that he or
she may review their institutional file before the hearing. Certain parts of the
file are exempted by law from being shown. Such exempted parts will be summarized,
however, and the summary furnished to the offender if asked. If the offender asks
to see his or her file, or part of it, he or she may inspect any documents, except
the exempted ones, which the Parole Commission uses as a basis for its decision
about parole. The Case Manager can explain what types of material are exempted
by law, and can assist in requesting files for review. He/she can also discuss
the possibility of reviewing the offender's file at some time other than just
before the parole hearing.
3. May the offender bring someone into the hearing room?
The Notice of Hearing form provides a place for the offender
to name someone as his or her representative at the hearing. The representative
should be given timely prior notice by the offender to allow adequate time to
prepare for the hearing. This representative would, with the final approval of
the examiner conducting the hearing, ordinarily be allowed to enter the hearing
room and make a brief statement on the offender's behalf. The offender may elect
to waive representation by initialing the appropriate section on the Notice of
Hearing form. Permission must be granted from this individual, and he or she must
be given enough time to plan to attend the hearing. The representative may enter
the hearing room with the offender and make a brief statement on his or her behalf.
Should the offender decide not to have a representative, he or she will be asked
to initial the waiver section on the Notice of Hearing form.
4. Who else will be present at the parole hearing?
Generally, a Hearing Examiner from the Parole Commission will
conduct the hearing. The Case Manager generally also will attend the hearing.
Observers may ask to come into the hearing room occasionally. These are usually
members of the institution staff or personnel of the Parole Commission. A person
who wishes to speak in opposition to an offender's parole may also appear at the
5. Are the hearings recorded?
Yes, the interview is recorded. The offender may request a copy
of the recording by submitting a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
6. Does the judge or other court official make a recommendation
to the Commission regarding parole?
The Judge who sentenced the criminal offender, the Assistant
United States Attorney who prosecuted the case and the defense attorney may make
recommendations regarding parole. These recommendations are generally submitted
to the Commission before the first hearing and become a part of the material the
Commission considers. The Judge's recommendation and the defense attorney's recommendation
will be made on Form AO-235. The Assistant United States Attorney's recommendation
will be on Form USA-792.
7. Does the Hearing Examiner usually follow the recommendations
made by the institution staff?
Institution staff recommendations if provided are given thoughtful
consideration but are not always followed, as they are only one of the several
factors considered by the Examiner and the Commission.
8. How do any of the following situations affect parole?
A. Institution misconduct. The prisoner is expected to observe
the rules of the institution in which confined to be eligible for parole. Misconduct
resulting in forfeited or withheld good time indicates that institution rules
have not been observed and is a poor argument for parole, but does not automatically
disqualify the applicant from Commission consideration.
B. Presence of a detainer. A detainer does not of itself constitute
a basis to deny parole. A prisoner may be paroled to a detainer indicating an
actual release to the custody of another jurisdiction. If the detainer is dropped,
the parole will occur, with an approved plan, directly to the community. In some
circumstances, parole may be to the detainer only and if the detainer is dropped,
further action regarding parole will not occur, pending additional review by the
C. Alien subject to deportation. In some cases, the Commission
grants parole on condition that the alien be deported and remain outside the United
States. In other cases, the Commission merely grants parole to an immigration
detainer. In such instances the individual does not leave the institution until
the immigration officials are ready to receive him.
D. Case in court on appeal. All persons have the right by law
to appeal their conviction and sentence. The Parole Commission recognizes this
right and the existence of a court appeal has no bearing whatever on parole decisions.
9. Will parole be granted if there is an unpaid committed
A fine for which an offender is to "stand committed" must be
taken care of in some way before the Commission can take action on the "time portion"
of the sentence. The usual way to take care of a fine is to pay it. If an offender
cannot do so, he or she may apply to take an "indigent prisoner's oath" if the
offender can show that there are no funds or assets in his or her possession.
A Case Manager can help the offender apply to take this oath. If the offender
can neither pay the fine nor qualify for the oath, the Warden or Magistrate might
determine that the offender needs all of his or her money or assets to support
dependents. In some cases the offender may be able to pay part of the fine and
the Warden or Magistrate will determine that he or she needs the remainder of
the assets for the support of dependents. In such cases, however, the offender
still has a civil requirement to pay the fine at some later date.
If the offender has sufficient money or assets to pay the committed
fine but fails to do so, the offender will not be paroled.
10. Are reasons provided if parole is not granted?
Yes, the Hearing Examiner will discuss the recommendation with
the offender at the time of the hearing, and the Notice of Action will state the
reasons for the decision.
11. If parole is not granted at the initial hearing, will
the offender be given another hearing?
By law, if a sentence is less than seven years the offender
will be granted another hearing after 18 months from the time of his or her last
hearing. If the sentence is seven years or more the next hearing is scheduled
24 months from the time of the last hearing. The first Statutory Interim Hearing
may be delayed until the docket preceding eligibility if there is more than 18
or 24 months between the initial hearing and the eligibility date.
12. If the Commission does not parole the offender earlier,
can he or she be paroled later on near the end of the term?
If the sentence is five years or longer, the law provides that
the offender will be granted mandatory parole by the Commission when he or she
has served two-thirds of the term or terms, unless the Commission makes a finding
either that (1) the offender has seriously or frequently violated institution
rules and regulations, or (2) there is a reasonable probability that the offender
will commit a further crime. If an offender is serving a life term or consecutive
terms, a Case Manager can explain the law in relation to parole at the two-thirds
13. Will an offender be given a hearing just before the "two-thirds"
If an offender is serving a sentence of five years or larger,
the case will be reviewed on the record shortly before the "two-thirds" date arrives.
If the offender is not granted mandatory parole on the basis of a "record review,"
he or she will be scheduled for a hearing when the Hearing Examiner next visits
the institution. A decision about parole will then follow that hearing.
14. May an offender waive parole at the two-thirds point of
Yes. If the offender chooses to waive parole at this point,
release will occur at the mandatory release date of the sentence.
15. If someone is paroled after two-thirds of a sentence,
must they comply with the parole conditions like any other parolee?
Yes. A parolee must abide by the conditions of release, and
parole may be revoked if any of them are violated. Parolees will remain under
supervision until the expiration of his or her sentence unless the Commission
terminates supervision earlier. The reduction of supervision time by 180 days
provided by the mandatory release laws does not apply to this type of parole.
16. If parole is not granted to an offender at any time during
his or her sentence, when does he or she get out?
Unless the offender has a forfeited all statutory good time,
he or she will be released via Mandatory Release. The Mandatory Release date is
computed by the institution officials according to how much statutory good time
the offender is entitled to and how much "extra" good time is earned. The law
states that a mandatory releasee "shall upon release be treated as if released
on parole and shall be subject to all provisions of the law relating to the parole
of United States prisoners until the expiration of the maximum term or terms for
which he was sentenced, less 180 days." This means a parolee should have a release
plan as if he or she were going out on parole. The releasee will be supervised
by a United States Probation Officer as if on parolee until 180 days before the
expiration date of the sentence provided the releasee does not violate the conditions
of release, in which case the Commission retains jurisdiction to the original
full term date of the sentence.
If an offender is not paroled and has less than 180 days left
on a sentence when they are released, they will be released without supervision.
However, if a special parole term is being served, supervision
will terminate at the full term date. The 180-day date does not apply.
17. If the Parole Commission grants parole, when will a parolee
If a parolee's parole plan is complete and has been approved
by the Parole Commission following an investigation by the United States Probation
Officer, release will be on the date set by the Commission (assuming, of course,
that the parole is not retarded or rescinded for misconduct or for some other
reason). If the plan is not approved, release may be delayed regardless of the
effective date which the Commission set when it granted parole.
18. What type of release plan must be in order?
A release plan should normally include a suitable residence
and a verified offer of employment. A parole advisor is necessary only if the
Commission or the United States Probation Officer specifically says that one should
be obtained. There are exceptions. For example, a definite job is sometimes neither
necessary nor possible. The Commission always considers the individual's situation
and may waive this or any other standard requirement if it sees fit to do so.
On the other hand, special requirements may be added and must be met before release.
19. How can a parolee get a job while still in the institution?
Relatives, friends, and social agencies in the community where
a parolee wishes to live or former employers are likely contacts. If a parolee
is released through a Community Corrections Center this is also a time during
which he or she may find employment.
The United States Probation Officer to whom the parolee reports
investigates job offers, and that officer reports back to the institution and
the Parole Commission.
20. Must a parolee return to the community from which he or
In most instances, a parolee will be released to the Judicial
District in which he or she was convicted or the Judicial District of legal residence.
The parolee's former community may offer the best opportunity for the help and
support that will be needed. If the Commission believes, however, that the chance
of success on parole is greater in another community, it may order residence in
a different Judicial District.
21. After a parolee is released, to whom and when does the
Unless a parolee is released to a detainer, he or she will go
to an approved residence and report within three days to the United States Probation
Office shown on the release certificate. The parolee will continue to report to
a Probation Officer in person as instructed by the officer. In addition, monthly
written reports are required as long as parolees remain under supervision on your
22. Upon what conditions is a parolee released on parole or
The conditions are indicated on the release certificate presented
to the parolee when he or she is released or on the Notice of Action.
If the prisoner is denied parole, he or she will be released
at a date provided by deducting the sum total of good time days from the full
term date. The conditions of supervision will be specified on the certificate
of mandatory release.
23. May any of the conditions of release be changed by the
If a parolee believes the conditions on the Certificate of Release
are unfair, he or she may ask the Case Manager for an appeal form and submit it
to the Regional Commissioner within 30 days after release. The Commission will
consider the appeal and the parolee will be notified of the decision. While the
appeal is pending, the parolee must continue to abide by the conditions imposed.
24. After a parolee is released, may any of the conditions
be changed? Can additional ones be imposed?
The Probation Officer or the Commission itself may propose changing
or adding to the conditions. The parolee will be notified of any such proposal
and will be allowed up to ten days to make any written comments to the Commission.
A form for this purpose is made available to the parolee, and it can be used for
comments. The parolee may write directly to the Commission (with a copy to his
or her Probation Officer) if he or she wishes to have any of the conditions amended
25. May a parolee be required to go into a half-way house
or undergo some course of treatment for drug or alcohol use while under supervision?
Federal law permits the Commission to require a parolee to participate
in any of the programs mentioned for all or part of the time under supervision.
In most cases, a parolee will be notified in advance and may submit comments about
the proposal to the Commission before the final decision is made.
26. May a parolee own, use or possess firearms after they
Except in very rare situations, federal law forbids anyone who
has ever been convicted of a felony from possessing firearms or ammunition. Generally,
therefore, parolees will not be permitted to own or possess a firearm or ammunition.
27. How long will a parolee remain under supervision after
his or her release?
Parolees will remain under the jurisdiction of the Parole Commission
and under supervision of a Probation Officer until the maximum expiration date
of the sentence, unless the Commission terminates supervision earlier. If the
parolee's supervision is terminated early, he or she will be given a Certificate
of Early Termination.
If an offender is not paroled, but instead mandatorily released,
supervision automatically ends 180 days before the maximum expiration date, unless
the Commission terminates supervision earlier and issues a Certificate of Early
28. How does the Commission decide whether to terminate supervision
A Probation Officer will submit an annual report to the Commission
about a parolee's adjustment in the community. After reviewing the report including
any recommendations, the Commission may decide to terminate parolee supervision
early. By law, the Commission must consider a case after the second year in the
community (not counting any time spent in confinement since release), and every
After five years of supervision in the community the Commission
must terminate a parolee's supervision unless it finds that there is a likelihood
that you will engage in conduct violating any law. Any finding of that nature
will be made only after the parolee has had an opportunity for a personal hearing.
A parolee may choose to waive the hearing if so desired.
29. What happens if a parolee violates the conditions of parole
or mandatory release?
A Probation Officer reports the violation to the Parole Commission
and a Commissioner determines the appropriate sanctions, including the possibility
of issuance of an arrest warrant or a summons for the parolee to appear at a hearing.
The Probation Officer is required to report any and all violations, but may recommend
that the parolee be continued under supervision. The Probation Officer's recommendation
is one of the factors considered by the Commission in its decision.
30. Who issues a warrant or summons if a parolee violates
parole or mandatory release?
Only a Parole Commissioner may issue a warrant or a summons
for a violation of the conditions of release.
31. After a warrant or summons is issued, what happens then?
The parolee is either taken into custody or summoned to appear
at a hearing. Custody is usually in the nearest government approved jail or detention
center. Unless the offender has been convicted of a new offense, a Probation Officer
will personally advise the offender of his or her legal rights and conduct a preliminary
interview. The Probation Officer will discuss the charges which have been placed
against the offender and then submit a report to the Commission. In this report,
the Probation Officer will recommend whether there is "probable cause" to believe
that a violation has occurred and whether the offender should be held in custody
pending a revocation hearing or be reinstated to supervision. The Probation Officer
will advise the offender of the recommendation and the basis for it.
After the Probation Officer's report is received, the Regional
Commissioner will either order the parolee reinstated to supervision or order
him or her held for a revocation hearing by a Hearing Examiner.
If a parolee is convicted of a new offense, they are not entitled
to a preliminary interview because the conviction is sufficient evidence that
they did violate the conditions of release. In such case, the offender may be
transported without delay to a federal institution for a revocation hearing.
32. May a parolee have an attorney at a preliminary interview
and revocation hearing?
Yes, parolees are entitled to an attorney of their choice (or
have one appointed by the court if one cannot be afforded). It is the responsibility
of the parolee to keep his or her attorney advised as to the time and place of
33. Where are the revocation hearings held?
Generally, revocation hearings are held after the offender is
returned to a federal institution. Such institutional hearings are held within
90 days from the time the offender was taken into custody on the basis of the
If there are sufficient reasons to do so, the Commission may
order a parolee's revocation hearing held in his or her own community or in the
community where he or she was arrested. The offender will be entitled to such
a hearing only if the offender denies violating the conditions of release, and
if the offender was not convicted of a new crime. If a local revocation hearing
is requested, the parolee must complete a form. There is a penalty for false answers
on this form, and a denial of violation must be honestly made. Local revocation
hearings are generally held within 60 days from the date the Regional Commissioner
finds "probable cause" that parole or mandatory release was violated.
34. If the offender's hearing is held in a Federal institution
rather than locally, may he or she also have an attorney and witnesses?
The offender is not entitled to appointed counsel, but may secure
an attorney at his own expense. The attorney can act only in the capacity of a
35. If the Commission revokes parole or mandatory release,
does a parolee get any credit on the sentence for the time spent under supervision?
Generally, if an offender is convicted of a new law violation,
he or she is not entitled to credit for any of the time spent under supervision
unless serving a YCA or NARA commitment. Also, there is no credit given for any
time a parolee intentionally failed to respond or report to a Probation Officer
or after a parolee has absconded from his or her area and the Probation Officer
did not know where he or she was living. For violation of any of the other noncriminal
conditions, a parolee generally will be credited for all of the time spent under
supervision in the community.
36. If a parolee is revoked rather than reinstated to supervision,
or if he or she is not re-paroled immediately, how long must I serve before the
Commission reviews my case again?
The Commission utilizes its guidelines to help in determining
the length of time a parolee should serve. The guidelines are the same ones used
for inmates who apply for their initial parole hearings. Decisions, of course,
can be made above or below the guidelines for good cause.
ANSWERING YOUR QUESTIONS ABOUT D.C. CODE PRISONERS
How has the D.C. Revitalization Act changed parole for D.C.
Under the new law, the power to grand and deny parole for all
D.C. inmates convicted of felony crimes was transferred from the D.C. Board of
Parole to the U.S. Parole Commission on August 5, 1998.
Will offenders still be eligible for parole?
Yes. The new law does not change an offender's eligibility for
parole. The parole eligibility date, mandatory release date, and full term date
will continue to be determined according to D.C. law. You will receive a parole
hearing form the U.S. Parole Commission if your hearing date is on or after August
Do offenders still need to apply for parole?
Yes. U.S. Parole Commission application forms will be available
at the offender's institution. Offenders must apply to receive an initial parole
What if the D.C. Board of Parole has made a decision in an
offender's case before August 5, 1998?
The U.S. Parole Commission will adopt any decision by the D.C.
Board of Parole prior to August 5, 1998. If parole was denied and the Board ordered
a reconsideration date, a rehearing will be held by the Commission during the
month specified by the Board. A reconsideration date is not a promise of parole,
but gives inmates the chance to improve their point scores through positive program
What if a prisoner is overdue for a hearing?
The offender should ask his or her Case Manager for placement
on the next docket at the institution. Re-application is not necessary.
Does the U.S. Parole Commission apply federal parole procedures
and guidelines at parole hearings for D.C. Code inmates?
No. The U.S. Parole Commission applies D.C. parole laws and
regulations in making its parole decisions. The Parole Commission amended the
rules of the D.C. Board of Parole in 1998 to improve the quality of parole hearings,
to include in the point score many of the predictive factors that were formerly
used to go above the guidelines, and to establish specific rehearing schedules.
However, the amended "point score" will be used only at initial hearings conducted
after August 5, 1998. At rehearings for applicants who were denied parole by the
D.C. Board of Parole, the 1987 point score will continue to be used.
Are further changes being considered?
Yes. The revised rules are still out for public comment, but
will be published very soon.
Will parole eligibility and good time rules change if an offender
is transferred to a federal prison?
No. Parole eligibility and good time credits will continue to
be determined under current D.C. laws. Youth Rehabilitation Act sentences will
be carried out as before, regardless of where the inmate is housed.
How long will the Lorton complex stay open?
The Revitalization Act requires that all D.C. Code sentenced
felons be transferred to facilities operated or contracted for by the Bureau of
Prisons no later than December 31, 2000.
Will parole be abolished in the District of Columbia?
The D.C. Revitalization Act requires the District to abolish
parole for some types of crimes, but this will only apply to defendants who commit
crimes on or after August 5, 2000. If a prisoner is serving a parolable sentence,
it will not be affected.
What will happen to the D.C. Board of Parole?
The D.C. Board of Parole will continue to supervise and have
the authority to revoke parole for all D.C. Code parolees and mandatory releasees
until August 5, 2000. On that date, the Board's authority will be transferred
to the U.S. Parole Commission and the D.C. Board of Parole will be abolished.
Who will supervise D.C. Parolees after August 5, 2000?
D.C. Code offenders on parole will be supervised by a new agency,
the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia
(CSOSA). The U.S. Parole Commission will be responsible for making decisions to
grant, deny, or revoke parole for D.C. parolees and mandatory releasees.
What if an offender is paroled between August 5, 1998 and
August 5, 2000?
The offender will be supervised by the D.C. Board of Parole
which has the power to revoke parole.
Can an offender's relatives and supporters send material to
the Parole Commission?
Yes. Information should be sent at least 60 days prior to an
offender's hearing. The information should contain the offender's name and DCDC
How do offenders contact the U.S. Parole Commission?
Case Managers should be available to assist prisoners. However,
questions may be sent in writing to:
U.S. Parole Commission
90 K Street, NE, Third Floor
Washington, D.C. 20530
The Parole Commission cannot divulge non-public, case-specific
information over the telephone. The Commission is interested in having suitable
places to live for parolees. Sometimes this is with family or relatives, but in
other cases, the Commission may consider an independent living agreement more
suitable. There is no rigid rule which requires the offender to be paroled to
his or her home, if there is one, or that the parolee cannot be paroled if he
or she does not.
You may have more questions about parole and the U.S. Parole Commission. We'd
like to answer those questions.