DOJ:USPC: U.S. Parole Commission Public Forum

USPC seal U.S. Parole Commission
Edward F. Reilly, Jr., Chairman

U.S. Parole Commission Public Forum

Shown below is a list of questions that arose during the Commission’s public forum.  The questions were raised by attendees invited to address the panel of speakers, which consisted of representatives from the United States Parole Commission, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, and the Bureau of Prisons.  These questions include only those directed at the Commission.  Questions specifically directed to the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency or the Bureau of Prisons are excluded.

QUESTION:  Why are inmates required to have requests for information from the parole file notarized?

ANSWER:  This is done to protect the inmate from a false request for information from another party.  Someone could falsely identify themselves as an offender to learn about the activities of that offender, particularly those who have cooperated with authorities.

QUESTION:  Why does the Commission rely on urinalysis tests if they can be inaccurate?

ANSWER:  It is true that urinalysis tests can incorrectly identify someone as a drug user.  This is called a "false positive."  The rate of false positives is extremely low.  However, because a false positive is possible, the Commission requires more then one positive test in order to revoke.  The chance of someone having two false positives is statistically so small as to be nonexistent.

QUESTION:  Can a parolee work for a family member?

ANSWER:  Parolees are not specifically forbidden from working for a family member.  Before approval is given, however, questions concerning accountability and wages must be resolved.

QUESTION:   Are statistics available summarizing the number of revocation hearings, length of set off, and type of violations?

ANSWER:  The Commission maintains statistics on all federal and DC revocation hearings and could be made available if requested.  In addition, the Commission reports to the court on DC revocation hearings every 60 days.

QUESTION:  Are inmates who can afford expensive attorneys able to get favorable treatment from either the Commission or the BOP that is not available to other offenders?

ANSWER:  Despite the claims of some attorney representatives that they have special access, all offenders are subject to the same policy considerations and are treated equally.  Attorney recommendation on behalf of clients are not given special consideration because they are attorneys or because of any claim of having a prior relationship with the agency.  Recommendations and requests from attorney representatives are not ignored, but they are treated the same as any recommendation or request from an inmate without representation or from other representatives, such as family members.  Most parolees at revocation hearings are represented by public defenders.

QUESTION:  Several questioners raised the complaint that Commission staff are slow to respond to letters or telephone calls asking for information or clarification of Commission policy.

ANSWER:  The Commission pledged to respond to all requests for information in a timely and professional manner.  Subsequent to the forum, a directive was sent to staff by the Chairman of the Commission reminding them of the need to be responsive to requests for information from offenders, their families, and the general public at all times. 

QUESTION:  There are several reentry initiatives aimed at releasing offenders early.  Has the Commission given any thought to releasing early older offenders who have served a long period of incarceration?

ANSWER: Many older offenders, particularly federal offenders, serving long sentences have committed serious crimes that require long terms under the guidelines, making early release difficult to consider in many cases without depreciating offense seriousness.  It should be noted, however, that the salient factor score recognizes that offenders become less risky as they age and allows a point for offenders over the age of 40.  This allows older offenders the opportunity to have a lower guideline range based on reduced risk to the community.

Updated January 12, 2015

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