Reentry planning for an individual’s return to their community begins on day one of incarceration. Upon admission to state prison, the PA Department of Corrections (DOC) conducts a battery of assessments to determine the inmate's risk of reoffending; propensity to act violently; levels of criminal attitudes and hostility; problems with substance abuse; and general psychological well-being.
Based on the results of these assessments, a plan is developed to address necessary treatment and programming needs for effective rehabilitation of the inmate. It is up to each individual to follow the plan that has been developed specifically to meet his or her needs. The DOC assigns a counselor to monitor individual progress in specific programs or treatment.
The DOC delivers cognitive behavioral programming to address identified needs. Some specific cognitive behavioral interventions within the DOC include:
• Thinking for Change – addresses criminal thinking
• Violence prevention
• Batter’s intervention – addresses domestic violence
• Sexual offender treatment and programming
• Drug and alcohol therapeutic community treatment
Educational and vocational programs are available as well. The offender should talk to a counselor about a GED or college diploma, vocational training, parenting classes, basic life skills courses, and how to get involved in other positive programs or activities within the prison. Returning home successfully requires work by each offender.
Eligibility for parole
As a discretionary parole state, a judge imposes a minimum and maximum sentence date at the time of sentencing. Inmates who have served their minimum sentence are eligible for parole consideration. Parole is not guaranteed – it is a privilege, not a right.
When is an inmate interviewed and released on parole?
The Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (board) interviews inmates four months prior to the minimum sentence date. Although the parole process, including the interview, is begun prior to the minimum sentence date, state sentenced inmates must serve the minimum amount of time in prison before they can be released on parole and will remain on parole supervision until their maximum sentence date. The completion of the minimum sentence date does not create a right, presumption or reasonable expectation of parole.
Writing a Letter to the Board about an inmate
If you would like to send a letter to the board about an inmate who is being considered for parole, your letter needs to include the following:
• The inmate’s first and last name
• The inmate’s inmate/institution number (is 2 letters first followed by 4 numbers)
• The state correctional facility where they are housed
The board must have the inmate’s name AND some other form of identifying information such as the date of birth or the inmate/institution number to make certain the letter is placed in the correct offender’s file.
If you do not know the inmate number or the institution where they are currently incarcerated, you may find this information on the Department of Corrections website INMATE LOCATOR
. This site will provide both the inmate/institution number and the state correctional facility where they are housed for you to use in your letter. Below is an example of a possible letter about an inmate:
John J. Inmate
Inmate # ZZ1234
To Whom It May Concern:
[ Insert the text of what you want the board to know about the inmate here.]
Your First and Last Name
Your Phone Number