What is Parole?
When someone is paroled, they serve part of their sentence under
the supervision of their community. The law says that the U.S. Parole Commission
may grant parole if (a) the inmate has substantially observed the rules of the
institution; (b) release would not depreciate the seriousness of the offense or
promote disrespect for the law; and (c) release would not jeopardize the public
Parole has a three-fold
purpose: (1) through the assistance of the United States Probation Officer, a
parolee may obtain help with problems concerning employment, residence, finances,
or other personal problems which often trouble a person trying to adjust to life
upon release from prison; (2) parole protects society because it helps former
prisoners get established in the community and thus prevents many situations in
which they might commit a new offense; and (3) parole prevents needless imprisonment
of those who are not likely to commit further crime and who meet the criteria
for parole. While in the community, supervision will be oriented toward reintegrating
the offender as a productive member of society.
How does the Commission
determine if someone is eligible for Parole?
A criminal offender becomes
eligible for parole according to the type of sentence received from the court.
The "parole eligibility date" is the earliest time the offender might
be paroled. If the Parole Commission decides to grant parole, it will set the
date of release, but the date must be on or after the "eligibility"
The process begins at sentencing.
Unless the court has specified a minimum time for the offender to serve, or has
imposed an "indeterminate" type of sentence, parole eligibility occurs
upon completion of one-third of the term. If an offender is serving a life sentence
or a term or terms of 30 years or more he or she will become eligible for parole
after 10 years.
How does one apply for parole?
To apply for parole, the offender
has to fill out and sign an application furnished by a case manager. Everyone
except those committed under juvenile delinquency procedures who wish to be considered
for parole must complete a parole application.
In some instances, the offender
may not wish to apply for parole if this is the case, the offender is provided
a waiver as opposed to an application.
How is one notified of hearings?
A case manager notifies the offender
when his or her parole hearing is scheduled. The initial hearing will usually
take place within a few months after arrival at the institution. The only exception
to this rule is if the offender is serving a minimum term of ten years or more,
in which case the initial hearing will be scheduled six month prior to the completion
of ten years.
What happens at a parole hearing?
A parole hearing is an opportunity
for the offender to present his or her side of the story, and express their own
thoughts as to why they feel they should be paroled. Many subjects come up during
the course of the hearing. These typically include the details of the offense,
prior criminal history, the guidelines which the Commission uses in making their
determination, the offenders accomplishments in the correctional facility,
details of a release plan, and any problems the offender has had to meet in the
past and is likely to face again in the future.
The Commission is interested
in both the public safety as well as the needs of the individual.
When is a decision made about parole?
A Parole Examiner reviews the
case file before the hearing occurs. A recommendation relative to parole is made
at the conclusion of the hearing and in most instances the offender is notified
of that recommendation. If a recommendation is not provided, the Examiner may
refer the case to the Commissions Office for further review. All recommendations
made at the hearing are only tentative as another examiner review is required
before a final decision is made. Usually it takes about 21 days for the offender
to receive a Notice of Action advising them of the official decision.
Is it possible to appeal the parole decision?
Certainly. Within 30 days of
the date on the Notice of Action, the offender may file an appeal with the National
Appeals Board. Case Managers will have a copy of the form used for appeal. After
receiving the appeal, the National Appeals Board may affirm, reverse or modify
the Commissions decision, or may order a new hearing. A decision by the
National Appeals Board is final.
Decisions granting or denying parole for prisoners sentenced under the
District of Columbia Code may not be appealed to the Commission. D.C. offenders may
appeal decisions revoking their parole or supervised release.
What kind of job can a parolee get?
In most cases, any legitimate
employment is normally acceptable. Full time work is preferable to part time work;
work done continuously at one location is generally better than work in which
it is necessary to travel. It is expected that the job will provide enough income
to support dependents.
In some cases, the Parole Commission
may prohibit certain types of employment. If, for example, the original offense
behavior involved abuse of a certain occupational position and there might be
a likelihood of further criminal conduct if returned to such employment, than
that employment may be denied.
What does a parolee do if he or she has no home to go to?
The U.S. Parole Commission is
interested in parolees having a suitable place to live. Sometimes this is with
family or relatives, but in other cases, the Commission may consider an independent
living agreement more suitable to the parolees and the communitys
needs. There is no rigid rule that requires parolees to reside in their
home, if they have one, or that they cannot be paroled if they do not.
If I have more questions, whom do I ask?
You may contact the U.S. Parole
Commission by writing us at 90 K Street, NE, Third Floor, Washington, D.C. 20530.
We would like to help you answer any further questions you may have.
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