Victims or witnesses who have been subpoenaed to testify at a parole hearing are an important part of the process. Hearings conducted by the Parole Commission rely on their testimony and the Parole Commission appreciates the participation of victims and witnesses.
In every case, the victim or witness' address, telephone number, and other locator identifying information (such as place of work) are confidential and not disclosed.
Types of Hearings
- Parole release consideration hearing (a hearing to determine whether parole should be granted or denied).
A victim (including a representative of the immediate family of the victim if the victim has died) may appear at a parole release consideration hearing held at the institution in which the prisoner is confined and offer a statement. Or, a victim may submit a written or recorded statement to the Commission in advance of the hearing. Or a victim may request permission to present an oral statement at the Commission's office before a hearing examiner or other staff member who will summarize the statement for the case record.
A victim who wishes to submit a written or tape recorded statement should send it to the United States Parole Commission, 5550 Friendship Blvd., Suite 420, Chevy Chase, MD 20815 (att: Victim/Witness Coordinator).
A victim who wishes to appear at a parole release consideration hearing should register with the Bureau of Prison's Victim/Witness coordinator. If this is not possible for some reason, the victim should contact the U.S. Parole Commission's Victim/Witness Coordinator at least 30 days in advance of the hearing to obtain permission to attend. The toll-free telephone number is 1-888-585-9103. The mailing address is: United States Parole Commission, 5550 Friendship Blvd., Suite 420, Chevy Chase, MD 20815.
A victim who wishes to appear at the Commission's office to submit an oral statement should contact the U.S. Parole Commission's Victim/Witness Coordinator at least 30 days in advance of the hearing to obtain permission to attend. The toll-free telephone number is 1-888-585-9103. The mailing address is: United States Parole Commission, 5550 Friendship Blvd., Suite 420, Chevy Chase, MD 20815.
In any written communication with the Commission, please include the name of the offender and the offender's prison identification number if known. If the offender's prison identification number is not known, please include whatever identifying information is available (for example, the name and location of the sentencing court, offense, docket number, and date of sentencing). Also, include an address/telephone number by which you may be reached by Commission staff.
The text of the Commission's rules and procedures regarding attendance of a victim at a parole release consideration hearing may be found in the Commission's Rules and Procedures Manual (see section 2.13(b) and 2.13-11 regarding federal offenders) and section 2.72(e) (regarding District of Columbia Code offenders).
- Revocation hearing (a hearing to determine whether parole or supervised release should be revoked on the basis of a violation of the conditions of release).
The testimony of victims and witnesses at parole (or supervised release) revocation hearings provides essential information relative to the revocation determination.
A victims or witness who is subpoenaed to testify at a revocation hearing is entitled to reimbursement for reasonable travel expenses and the regular fee for a government witness. At the hearing, the Hearing Examiner will provide the witness with a Fact Witness Voucher Form to be completed and returned to the U.S. Marshal's Office for reimbursement.
The Commission has prepared a pamphlet for victims and witnesses that describes the revocation hearing process. This pamphlet is set forth below.
Results of Hearing
Victims and witnesses will be notified, upon request, of the outcome of the hearing. Generally, the victim or witness will receive the notification about three to four weeks after the hearing.
Victim Assistance Services
There are over 9,000 local, state and national organizations that provide assistance and support to victims of crime. The U.S. Parole Commission Victim/Witness Coordinator has more information about referrals to counseling, or other support services for victims.
Parole Commission Victim/Witness Coordinator
If you have any questions or need additional information about the Parole Commission's procedures or the rights and services available to you, please contact the Parole Commission Victim/Witness Coordinator. The toll-free telephone number is 1-888-585-9103. The mailing address is: United States Parole Commission, 90 K Street, NE, Third Floor, Washington, D.C. 20530.
The Victim/Witness Pamphlet is sent to each victim or witness who is subpoenaed to appear at a parole or supervised release revocation hearing.
As a victim or witness who has been subpoenaed to testify at a United States Parole Commission revocation hearing, it is important for you to know about the hearing process, as well as the importance of your participation in this process. This pamphlet is designed to provide you with helpful information, and to answer some of the most commonly asked questions by victims and witnesses about Parole Commission revocation hearings.
Revocation hearings conducted by the Parole Commission rely greatly on the testimony of victims and witnesses. Your input is vital to the hearing and its outcome. The Parole Commission appreciates your participation as a witness and wants to ensure that your interests and needs are recognized by Parole Commission staff.
Because you have been subpoenaed to testify at this hearing, you are entitled to reimbursement for reasonable travel expenses as well as to a standard fee for government witnesses. This is described later in this pamphlet.
Parole Commission Victim/Witness Coordinators
The Parole Commission has a Victim/Witness Coordinator to assist you. The primary responsibilities of the Victim/Witness Coordinator are to:
- Arrange the scheduling for revocation hearings.
- Answer your questions about the hearing process.
- Provide timely information and referrals that can assist victims and witnesses before, during, and after the revocation hearing.
If you have any special needs relevant to your attendance at the hearing - such as special access for persons with disabilities or the need for an interpreter - please let the Victim/Witness Coordinator know in advance of the hearing.
You can contact the Victim/Witness Coordinator at any time before or after the hearing to get an answer to any questions that you may have. The toll-free number is 1-888-585-9103.
Preparing for Attendance at the Hearing
For your appearance at the hearing, please:
- Dress as if you were appearing in court. Do not wear any of the following types of clothing:
- Open-toed shoes;
- Halter tops;
- Spandex or other tight-fitting clothing;
- See-through clothing;
- Wrap around skirts or skirts that button up;
- Any clothing that exposes the chest or midriff;
- Dresses or skirts that are three (3) inches or more above the knee or that have slits that are three (3) inches or more above the knee;
- Sleeveless shirts (applies to men only);
- Shorts (unless part of a law enforcement uniform);
- Military or camouflage clothing.
- Bring a photo ID (for example, a driver's license, passport, or state photo identification card) to the hearing site. This is necessary for admittance.
- You may bring a "support" person (for example, a relative or friend) to the hearing, and have that person present during the hearing, if it will make you feel more comfortable. If you wish to bring a support person, you need to notify the Parole Commission Victim/Witness Coordinator in advance of the hearing so that the necessary arrangements can be made. A support person cannot testify at the hearing, must behave in an appropriate manner, and will not reimbursed for any expenses related to attending the hearing.
- Please do not bring children (unless the Parole Commission specifically requests their testimony). Children are not allowed in most institutions at which revocation hearings are conducted.
- The Hearing Examiner will attempt to accommodate your schedule in terms of when you testify, to the degree possible. The Parole Commission realizes your time is valuable and will make every effort to ensure that your participation in the hearing is handled in the most timely fashion.
- You are under no obligation to discuss the charges or your testimony with others before the hearing. If you feel you are being intimidated or harassed by the alleged offender or his/her representatives, you should immediately contact your local law enforcement agency and file a complaint, and notify the Parole Commission Victim/Witness Coordinator. If possible, document all incidents of intimidation or harassment and bring the documentation (such as copies of letters, telephone records, etc.) to the hearing, and give it to the Hearing Examiner.
Rights of Victims and Witnesses in Parole Commission Hearings
Victims and witnesses have certain rights in Parole Commission hearings. You have the right:
- To be treated with dignity and respect throughout the process.
- To receive timely information about your participation in the process.
- To be informed of the charges against the alleged violator related to your participation at the revocation hearing.
- To testify at a Parole Commission local revocation hearing.
- To an interpreter, if required.
- To be reimbursed for reasonable travel costs and paid the customary U.S. Government Witness Fee for your attendance pursuant to a subpoena at a Parole Commission revocation hearing.
- To bring a "support" person (for example, a relative or friend) to the hearing, and have that person present during the hearing.
- To confidentiality of your address and telephone number and any other locator information.
- To request a "no contact" order from the Parole Commission that will prohibit the offender from contact with you during any time offender is under the jurisdiction of the Parole Commission.
- To be notified in a timely manner, upon request, of the outcome of the hearing.
The Hearing Process
- At the beginning of the hearing, the Parole Commission's Hearing Examiner will introduce himself/herself, review the hearing procedures, and address any questions that you may have. The Hearing Examiner will then ask you questions about the incident about which you are testifying (generally, what you saw, heard, or otherwise observed).
- As a witness, think carefully through the case and your own testimony. Picture the scene of the crime, everything you saw and heard, and exactly what happened. Be prepared to answer questions accurately and to the best of your knowledge.
- You must answer questions truthfully. The United States Code provides penalties for making false statements at official proceedings.
- Tell only the facts as you know them. Never guess or speculate. If you do not understand the question, ask that the question be repeated or restated. If you do not know the answer to a question, say so.
- Take your time when answering questions. Think through the question asked, and do not feel pressured to rush your response.
- Following your initial testimony, the alleged violator's counsel (or the alleged violator, with the approval of the Hearing Examiner) has the right to cross-examine you. The Hearing Examiner monitors all questions and judges their appropriateness. If you feel uncomfortable at any time, please let the Hearing Examiner know.
- All hearing proceedings are audio taped.
- Following your testimony, the hearing will be recessed briefly and you will be escorted out of the room. Generally, you will be excused after you testify. In some cases, the Hearing Examiner may request that you wait in case you have to be recalled to clarify an issue that may arise.
- Following the hearing, the Hearing Examiner will prepare a summary and recommendation, which will be forwarded to the Parole Commission in Chevy Chase, Maryland. A Parole Commissioner will make the official decision. Generally, the official decision is made two to three weeks after the hearing.
- Occasionally, a hearing will have to be continued to another date. If possible, the Hearing Examiner will take your testimony so that you will not have to come back. There may be cases, however, in which a reappearance is unavoidable.
Reimbursement for Attendance at Hearing
- Because you have been subpoenaed, the Parole Commission will reimburse you for reasonable travel expenses incurred as a result of your participation in the hearing and a standard government witness fee.
- At the hearing, the Hearing Examiner will provide you with a Fact Witness Voucher Form, on which you must report your expenses. Please bring receipts, when possible. If you wish immediate reimbursement, you can hand deliver the Fact Witness Voucher Form to the U.S. Marshal's Office (generally, the Hearing Examiner can provide you with directions), where you will be reimbursed for your expenses. Or, you can mail the Fact Witness Voucher Form to the U.S. Marshal's Office, which will provide you with reimbursement in a timely manner.
Notification of Results of Hearing
- Victims and witnesses who participate in Parole Commission hearings will be notified, upon request, of the outcome of the hearing. A Victim/Witness Notification Request Form is sent to you with your subpoena.
- If you desire notification of the outcome of the hearing, complete this form and give it to the Hearing Examiner conducting the hearing or mail it to the Parole Commission after the hearing. The Parole Commission will send you a letter regarding the official Parole Commission decision when it is made. Generally, you will receive this notification about a month after the hearing.
Confidentiality of Victim/Witness Information
By law, most materials in a case file are available to the parolee/inmate and his or her attorney, but there are exceptions. In all cases, your address, telephone number, and other locator identifying information, such as place of work, are confidential and are not disclosed.
Victim Assistance Services
There are over 9,000 local, state and national organizations that provide assistance and support to victims of crime. If you would like information about referrals to counseling or other support services, or referrals for written information about specific types of criminal victimization, please contact the Parole Commission Victim/Witness Coordinator.
If you have any questions, or need additional information about Parole Commission procedures or the rights and services available to you, please contact the Parole Commission Victim/Witness Coordinator. The toll-free telephone number is 1-888-585-9103. The mailing address is: United States Parole Commission, 90 K Street, NE, Third Floor, Washington, D.C. 20530. The email address is: USPC.VICTIMADV@usdoj.gov
Edition of 10/17/02