Published On: Tue, Mar 24th, 2020

How does the parole process work?

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Parole grants conditional freedom to a prison inmate. A prisoner under parole, called a parolee, gets released before completing their term. But they have to obey a number of regulations. Failure to adhere to the rules may mean getting back into prison.

This article presents an overview of how the parole process works in general. State laws may imply certain variations. For instance, there are state laws that treat some crimes as ineligible for parole. Life without parole (LOWP) is often an alternative for the death penalty.

Behavior Matters

Before we begin, remember that behavior matters not just after parole, but before parole eligibility also. In case you have a loved one in a Texas prison, you can use a prison finder service to locate the prison, identify the officers in charge and make an application.

What Is Parole?

It is a system that allows a prison inmate to serve part of their sentence outside the bars. The purpose of parole is to facilitate an inmate’s transition back into regular life. Parole is not a right, but a privilege granted to those believed to be able to reintegrate into society.

The regulations that parolees have to observe mostly relate to behavioral aspects, aimed at promoting good behavior. It is like living a supervised life in one’s own community, with one’s own family. Adherence to the regulations means staying out of trouble.

Granting parole to inmates unlikely to harm others also helps prevent prison overcrowding. It saves the government the high costs of maintaining a large number of inmates.

The Parole Process

The state’s parole board decides on the eligibility of an inmate for parole, who then appears for a parole hearing. When parole is granted, the inmate walks out from behind the bars and lives in society. However, they remain under the supervision of the prison authority.

If parole is not granted, the parole board gives another hearing date for the inmate. There are some variations from state to state, however.  In Texas, for instance, an institutional parole officer of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles interviews the eligible inmate.

Based on the interview, the IPO prepares a case summary for parole and sends it to a panel of the Board. The panel members vote for or against sequentially. The first member votes and passes it on to the second one.

If they both agree, that decision holds. In case one member agrees and the other does not, it goes to the third member. Know more about the parole process in Texas here.

In some other states, review by a parole panel may be followed by a review by the entire parole board. In some states, the state governor reviews and may reverse some parole decisions.

Some Common Parole Regulations

Once out on parole, the inmate lives in comparative freedom, but with the commitment to maintain certain regulations. Some common parole rules need the parolee to:

  • Maintain a residence and remain employed
  • Abstain from drug use, and sometimes from alcohol use also
  • Attend recovery meetings for drug and alcohol abuse
  • Not leave a stipulated geographical area without getting permission from the parole officer
  • Meet with the parole officer periodically

A parolee typically gets a parole officer assigned to them, who may also drop by unannounced to the parolee’s residence. To check whether the parolee is maintaining all the required conditions.

What Happens In Case Of Parole Violations?

That depends on the nature of the violation. If the parolee commits a new crime or leaves the specified geographical area without taking the parole officer’s permission, it usually means back to prison.

In case of a violation like relapsing into drug or alcohol use, the parole officer may set some new conditions like submitting proof of attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.



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