Victim Witness Program
The United States Parole Commission's Victim Witness Program encourages crime victims to exercise their right to participate in the parole and supervised release processes of their offender by notifying crime victims of hearing and release dates, facilitating victim participation in the hearing and release processes, advocating on behalf of crime victims, and providing referrals to supportive services.
- Victim Assistance Services
- The Rights of a Victim or Witness in a U.S. Parole Commission Hearing
- How Parole Works
- Parole Hearings
- Sentencing, Incarceration, and Parole Offenders
- Contact the Victim Witness Program
Victim Assistance Services
There are over 9,000 local, state and national organizations that provide assistance and support to victims of crime. Information on services available in your area can be located by contacting the Commission's Supervisory Victims Coordinator or by visiting website of the Office of Victims of Crime.
The Rights of a Victim or Witness in a U.S. Parole Commission Hearing
Crime Victims Rights Act 18 U.S.C. § 3771 accords rights to victims throughout the parole and supervised release processes. These rights are:
- The right to be reasonably protected from the accused.
- The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any public court proceeding, or any parole proceeding, involving the crime or of any release or escape of the accused.
- The right not to be excluded from any such public court proceeding, unless the court, after receiving clear and convincing evidence, determines that testimony by the victim would be materially altered if the victim heard other testimony at that proceeding.
- The right to be reasonably heard at any public proceeding in the district court involving release, plea, sentencing, or any parole proceeding.
- The reasonable right to confer with the attorney for the Government in the case.
- The right to full and timely restitution as provided in law.
- The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay.
- The right to be treated with fairness and with respect for the victim's dignity and privacy.
We will make our best efforts to ensure you are accorded the rights described. You can seek the advice of an attorney with respect to these rights.
If you are a victim of a crime in a case under jurisdiction of the United States Parole Commission, and you believe that you have not received all the rights and services listed above, please contact the Victim Witness Assistance Unit at (202) 346-7008. We will work with you to see that you receive your rights. If you believe that an employee of the United States Parole Commission failed to provide you with one or more of the federal victims' rights listed above, you may file an administrative complaint, as provided under 28 CFR section 45.10.
Administrative complaints are submitted to the Victims' Rights Point of Contact, Helen Krapels using the complaint form. Please print your completed form before closing the document or you may lose your information.
The form may be mailed to:
United States Parole Commission
90 K Street NE, 3rd Floor
Washington DC 20530-0001
You can also fax the form to the Victims' Rights Point of Contact at (202) 357-1083.
You will receive a written acknowledgment of the complaint from the Victims' Rights Point of Contact. Any questions about the status of a pending complaint or the complaint process in general should be addressed to the Victims' Rights Point of Contact at (202) 346-7000.
Complaint Form: Alleging Failure of Department of Justice Employee to Provide Rights to a Crime Victim Under The Crime Victims' Rights Act of 2004
How Parole Works
Eligible federal prisoners serving sentences of less than 30 years who have committed offenses prior to November of 1987 may, through an application process, receive an initial parole hearing within 120 days of commitment to a federal institution. Federal prisoners serving sentences of 30 years or more, and all DC Code prisoners, regardless of the length of their sentence, may receive a parole hearing within 9 months of their parole eligibility date as determined by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Prisoners who apply for parole are provided with a parole release decision based upon the appropriate paroling release guidelines, which are formatted in a manner that reduces disparity in release decisions and therefore promotes respect for the system. Following each hearing, the Parole Commission will issue a written decision and which informs the prisoner of the release decision and the next hearing date if applicable.
A pre-release record review is conducted prior to each inmate's release date to determine whether the prisoner has maintained a satisfactory institution record, and met the required conditions for release.
Prisoners are notified of all hearing decisions through a Notice of Action. Federal offenders who feel they have been treated unfairly by the Commission's decision are entitled to an appeal within 30 days of receiving the Notice of Action. This appeal prompts a second Parole Commission review, by the National Appeals Board.
Federal prisoners released on parole or mandatory release must report to a designated United States Probation/Parole Officer for supervision. Parolees must adhere to a set of conditions "in some circumstances, case-specific conditions" that are designed to protect public safety and ensure adequate supervision. Released D.C. offenders are under the supervision of the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency.
When the Parole Commission is notified that a parolee has violated the conditions of release, the Commission issues an arrest warrant and the violator is promptly returned to custody for a hearing on the allegations with possible return to prison for the remainder of his or her sentence.
If the sentencing court has ordered that a defendant pay restitution or a fine to the victim(s), the U.S. Parole Commission can establish the repayment of this restitution as a condition of parole or supervised release. However, the Commission cannot order restitution that was not originally ordered by the Court at sentencing. Many Inmates begin paying fines and restitution during their incarceration as part of the Bureau of Prison's Inmate Responsibility Program.
If you have questions, need more information about parole hearings, or have feedback about a hearing you attended call us toll free at: 1-888-585-9103 or contact us by email at email@example.com.
If you recently attended a parole hearing please take a moment to complete our brief survey. The information collected will help USPC deliver better services to victims and their families.
Definition of a Parole Hearing
A parole hearing is a hearing to determine whether an inmate should be released from prison to parole supervision in the community for the remainder of the sentence. The hearing is conducted by a Hearing Examiner of the United States Parole Commission. The decision on whether the inmate should be granted parole is made by a Commissioner of the United States Parole Commission after reviewing the hearing record created by the Hearing Examiner.
Only an inmate eligible for parole consideration under the sentence imposed by the court is scheduled for a parole hearing. Usually, the inmate must serve a minimum term of incarceration (imposed by the sentencing court) before the inmate is eligible for parole. In some cases the inmate may receive a hearing before reaching the parole eligibility date, but in no case may an inmate be released to parole before reaching the eligibility date.
Just because an inmate has been scheduled for a parole hearing does not mean the inmate will be released on parole. For some inmates, federal law requires a parole hearing every two years. Many inmates have several parole hearings before they are found suitable for release by the Parole Commission. Some parole-eligible inmates are never released to parole supervision.
If you are the registered victim or victim's next of kin, the Commission or Bureau of Prisons will notify you by mail or telephone of the next scheduled hearing.
- Who Can Attend a Parole Hearing
Only victims, victims' next-of-kin, or immediate family members may attend parole hearings. If necessary, one support person may accompany the victim or family member to the hearing. Support persons are not permitted to participate in the hearing. Victims and their families also may choose to designate someone to be their representative at the hearing who will speak on their behalf.
- Notification of a Hearing
The best way to ensure that you will receive notice of parole hearings is to register for the Federal Victim Notification System. To register, you must contact the Commission's Victim Support Program at 1.888.585.9103 or at USPC.VictimAdv@usdoj.gov.
- How to Attend or Participate in a Hearing
A victim may appear in person at the institution where an inmate is confined or via video from a United States Attorney's Office and offer a statement during the hearing. A victim may also submit a written or recorded statement to the Commission in advance of the hearing. In addition, a victim may request permission to present an oral statement at the Commission's office in Washington, D.C. before a Hearing Examiner who will summarize the statement for the case record.
Victims interested in participating in the parole process via any of the above methods should contact the Victims Support Program. The toll-free telephone number is 1-888-585-9103. The email address is USPC.VictimAdv@usdoj.gov. The mailing address is 90 K Street NE, 3rd Floor, Washington DC 20530-0001.
In any written communication with the Commission, please include the name of the inmate and the inmate's prison register number, if known. If you do not know the inmate's register number, please include whatever identifying information is available (for example, the name and location of the sentencing court, offense, docket number of the criminal case, and date of sentencing). Also, include an address/telephone number by which you may be reached by Commission staff.
You may find the Commission's procedures regarding attendance of a victim at a parole hearing 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).
- Information Regarding Parole and Supervised Release Revocation Hearings
Victims or witnesses who have been subpoenaed to testify at U.S. Parole Commission local revocation hearings are an important part of the parole and supervised release revocation process.
Hearings conducted by the Parole Commission rely greatly on the testimony of victims, witnesses and law enforcement. The Parole Commission appreciates the participation of witnesses.
If a witness or victim has been subpoenaed to testify at a hearing, they are 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, on which expenses must be reported. The form can be returned to the U.S. Marshal's Office for reimbursement.
- The Results of a Hearing
Victims and witnesses will be notified, upon request, of the outcome of the hearing. A Victim/Witness Notification Request Form is sent to witnesses along with the subpoena.
Sentencing, Incarceration, and Parole Offenders
- After Sentencing
Once sentenced, the inmate is transferred to a Bureau of Prisons (BOP) institution. BOP staff review the inmate's records and prepare a classification score based on such factors as length of sentence, stability, education, employment and behavior during a prior incarceration.
The classification score determines the type of facility where the inmate will be housed. This score may change over time based on individual behavior and specific case factors. During service of the prison term, an inmate may be transferred to a different institution based on the needs of the inmate or the prison system.
Victims may monitor inmate transfers by logging into the Victim Notification System.
Note: USPC and BOP do not notify victims when a transfer takes place.
- While the Inmate is in the Bureau of Prisons
Educational and vocational programs are available to inmates. An inmate may obtain a GED certificate or a certification of completing vocational training in some field. Inmates have job assignments in maintaining the institution or may work in prison industries (UNICOR). They may also participate in substance abuse treatment or counseling programs to reduce the risk of further criminal conduct when they are released. If an inmate exhibits superior program achievement the inmate may receive a reduction in the release date set by the Parole Commission.
- Medical Parole
Medical parole is a provision of District of Columbia law that allows the Parole Commission to parole a D.C. inmate before he has served his minimum prison term and is eligible for parole, if prison medical staff certifies that the inmate is terminally ill or permanently incapacitated with a medical condition. In these limited circumstances, the Parole Commission may parole the inmate regardless of his parole ineligibility if it determines that the inmate's release would not reasonably pose a threat to public safety or be incompatible with the public welfare.
Victims or victim's next-of-kin who are registered to receive notification will receive information regarding an application for medical parole. The victim has the opportunity to provide input to the Commission on this decision. More information regarding medical parole can be found in the Commission's Rules and Procedures Manual, section 2.77.
- Termination of Parole
The Commission may terminate the supervision of a parolee before the end of the court-imposed sentence. After two years on supervision, the law requires that the Commission review the parolee's case on the record to determine the need for continued supervision. After the parolee is on supervision for five years, the law requires that the Commission shall terminate supervision over the parolee unless the Commission determines, after a hearing, that it is likely that the parolee would still commit another crime. If the Commission terminates supervision, this act terminates the parolee's sentence.
- Parole Revocation Hearing
When a parolee is arrested on charges of violating the conditions of parole, a Parole Commission hearing examiner conducts a revocation hearing to determine whether the parolee should be returned to prison. The parolee may be represented by an attorney at the hearing. The parolee and the parolee's attorney may present witnesses and documentary evidence in defense of the charges, and have the opportunity to confront and cross-examine witnesses who have given information against the parolee. In most cases, the Commission has charged the parolee with violating one of the administrative violations of parole (e.g., failure to report to the supervision officer as directed) and the only witness adverse to the parolee is the supervision officer who reported the alleged violation. If an alleged crime victim has provided information about a new crime by the parolee, the parolee and the attorney may ask the Commission to subpoena the victim-witness to the hearing for questioning. In some cases, the Commission may excuse the victim-witness's appearance for good cause. As in the case of a parole hearing, the decision on revocation is made by a Parole Commissioner after reviewing the hearing record.
- Supervised Release
Supervised release is a period of community supervision following a D.C. offender's release from prison, much like parole. The period of supervision is normally limited to three or five years and is imposed by the sentencing court. Under D.C. law, the Parole Commission has the responsibility for setting the conditions of supervision, modifying the conditions for changed circumstances, revoking release for violations of the conditions and early discharge from supervision. Supervised release is imposed for D.C. Code offenders who committed their offenses after August 4, 2000 and who are sentenced to a determinate sentence of imprisonment. Supervision in the community is provided by supervision officers of the D.C. Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. Supervised release hearings are handled in the same manner as Parole Revocation hearings.
- Tracking the Status of an Offender Pending Deportation
Offenders that have been transferred into the custody of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will be held in a Federal holding facility pending deportation. Victims can request notification of the offender's status by submitting the Victim Request for Notification of Criminal Alien Status Form to the ICE Victim Notification Program. For more information visit the ICE website.
Contact the Victim Witness Program
Correspondence to the Department of Justice, U.S. Parole Commission Victim Witness Program, may be sent to:
Victim Witness Specialist
United States Parole Commission
90 K Street NE, 3rd Floor
Washington DC 20530-0001
(202) 346-7018 or (888) 585-9103