What is parole?
Parole is the decision of the Board of Pardons and Paroles to allow an inmate to serve the remainder of their sentence under supervision, outside of the detention center. It is a way to better integrate inmates into the community and more smoothly transition them out of prison. Not all inmates are eligible for parole, and not all inmates who are eligible end up obtaining parole.
Who is eligible for parole?
Parole eligibility changes on a case by case basis. Eligibility is determined based on the percentage of the sentence served, behavior during detention, and feedback from victims and respondents. For those convicted of more serious crimes, such as violent offenses sexual assault, parole may never be an option.
What is the difference between parole and mandatory supervision?
Where parole is requested and is a privilege awarded by the board, mandatory supervision is legislatively mandated. A prisoner gets mandatory supervision after they have served their sentence with good behavior. Due to discretionary mandatory release legislation, mandatory release remains up to the Board of Pardons and Paroles, who can deny release on a case by case basis.
What factors can influence the Board in parole cases?
Offenders who are eligible for annual Board hearings can actively improve their chances between hearings. Inmates can do this by completing vocational training and educational courses, cutting ties with any security threat group (gang) they might be affiliated with, and serving with good behavior. Some factors cannot be changed, such as the severity of the offense that got them convicted, their age when they were convicted, and prior offenses.
Victim testimony and wishes are also considered by the Board during parole hearings. These wishes can be very influential. The inmate may have little to no control over the victim’s view of them. This is why it’s important to improve all the factors under the inmate’s control.
What happens in the Board hearing?
The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles will provide a panel of three members to review and potentially interview the offender. The Panel may or may not schedule an interview with the offender, and will vote to approve or deny parole.
Voting is sequential, so if the second panel member votes the same as the first panel member then the decision is final. The third panel member will have to vote and break the tie if the case that their votes differ. If the Board votes to approve parole they may include conditions. Should they vote to deny parole then they will include the next review date.