Your Return Home
Each Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (board) district offers a family support class for individuals who are nearing release from prison. These classes help family members understand the parole process and gain an understanding of conditions of parole. The goal is to help the family understand how they can help their loved one be successful. For more information on these classes, please contact the district office where the individual will be living after being released.
A person’s successful return to the community is dependent on many factors. Planning and preparations begin while still in prison to ensure that housing, employment, benefits, treatment, programming and medical needs are met after the individual leaves prison. The efforts that a person makes to prepare for release is viewed as the foundation for him or her to rebuild ties with the community and succeed on parole. Prior to parole consideration, an inmate must submit a home plan. This plan will be investigated to determine whether the proposed residence is appropriate for the individual while on parole.
Home plan investigations are conducted in accordance with the board’s dual mandate to protect the safety of the public and aid in the rehabilitation of the parolee. Home plans are investigated on a case by case basis. The board investigates a home plan to consider staff and public safety as well as victim issues and any other issues that may impact the successful reentry and parole completion of the parolee. These individual determinations depend upon a variety of factors. Field agents investigate each proposed home site, keeping in mind the parolee’s history and supervision needs, using discretion and sound judgment to determine the appropriateness of the home plan.
Ideally, a parolee should submit two (2) proposed home plans in the event that one of them is not determined to be in the best interest of the parolee or the public. The home plan should provide a stable environment that will provide support and assistance to the parolee while searching for a job, attending counseling, seeking medical care, striving for financial stability and locating transportation. The parolee will have conditions of parole that must be followed and family members can help the individual follow them. This can be a stressful time that can cause a parolee to relapse – but a strong family support system, the help of clergy and friends and mentors can help this not to happen.
Although a potential home provider may agree to accept a parolee, the final decision still rests with the board based on the individual circumstances of the case and the board’s experience in supervising certain types of parolees.
The institutional parole staff will assist the inmate with the home plan process, but they are not responsible for securing a home plan for an individual.
In deciding if a residence is suitable, a parole agent or parole investigator will obtain the following information and any other information deemed necessary regarding the proposed home:
- Name and relationship to the parolee of person offering the home
- Location of home, including the type of neighborhood
- Name and phone number of person interviewed
- Proximity to employment and availability of public transportation
- Sleeping arrangements
- List of the occupants and their relationship to the parolee, age, sources of income, criminal records and feelings toward the parolee
- Potential sources of conflict
- Responsibilities of the offender: rent, room, and rules
- Whether or not weapons are present in the home
- Determine if a telephone is available
- Any history of domestic violence with members of the household
- Confirm that the home provider is aware of the parolee’s criminal record
The investigating parole agent must provide potential home providers with the following information:
- Agent’s role, responsibilities and contact information
- Parole conditions and their impact on those residing in the home (see general parole conditions)
- Moving/travel restrictions: the offender cannot move or leave the district without permission from his parole agent
- Board’s weapons policy - No weapons are allowed in the home
- The agent’s ability to conduct searches and make unannounced visits – without a warrant
If Granted Parole...
If granted parole, the board may parole the inmate to an approved home plan (private residence), a Department of Corrections (DOC)-operated Community Corrections Center (CCC), or a privately operated facility (CCF) that operates under contract to the DOC.
If granted parole to a CCC or CCF, the DOC will determine a bed date for the inmate, based on where he plans to live and any special treatment needs he requires. DOC tries to place offenders in CCCs as close as possible to the parolee’s proposed home area or the committing county.
The inmate’s family members, friends, or previous employers can assist him or her in applying for employment while they are still incarcerated. Institutional counselors and institutional parole agents will provide guidance as appropriate – they do not have lists of employers willing to hire parolees.
Home plans are investigated by the agent who will supervise the parolee after the he or she receives a board action (green sheet) that grants parole.
There are a number of restrictions imposed on the home provider, and not everybody that offers a parolee a home at first will be able to keep that offer once they learn all the rules.
If the provider is still willing to provide a parolee with a residence, they also will have to provide a copy of proof of ownership of the property or verifiable contact information for the landlord to the investigating agent.
Approved home plans are valid for 150 days from the date of approval.
If a parolee’s home plan expires, or if the situation inside the home changes, the parole agent will have to recheck the parolee’s plan prior to his release.
Parolees with sex offense histories, violent criminal histories and medical concerns represent cases that may experience delays that do not fit the normal process and timing. These hard to place parolees need to work closely with their families and institutional parole agents to try to develop viable reentry plans.
It is in the parolee's interest to remain aware of his or her home plan status and coordinate this information with his case manager at the prison or jail. As a guideline, parole staff has approximately 30 days to approve or deny a new home plan proposal after the field agent receives it.
If a parolee hopes to live in another state upon parole release, he should begin the planning process as early as possible. Interstate applications require payment of a $125 fee upon application.