A parole interview is scheduled approximately four months prior to an inmate’s minimum sentence date.
Pre-Interview Case Review
Prior to the parole interview, the decision maker will prepare for the interview by reviewing the case file, including the Parole Decisional Instrument guidelines and the inmate’s proposed home plan. The decision maker reviews compliance with the correctional plan:
• Programming: educational, vocational, employment, life skills, literacy, etc.
• Treatment: sex offender, drug and alcohol, mental health
• Reviews assessment scores from various risk and needs assessments and evaluations
The decision maker conducts the interview with the inmate and considers ALL of the information in the file. The Parole Decisional Instrument
(pdf) assists the board in the exercise of its discretion and to provide for proper consideration of all factors. The vote occurs in person and through video conference. Additional votes are taken if needed or required through a file review of the case. The vote occurs in person and through video conference. Additional votes are taken if needed or required through a file review of the case.
The parole interview is conducted either by a board member or hearing examiner, in person and through video conference, or by a panel of two decision makers. The interview with the inmate is to determine if the inmate’s risk of re-offending has been reduced.
The structured discretionary interview is designed to:
• Assesses quantifiable, actuarial information
• Assesses qualitative information
• Review criminal history
• Examine the offender risk/needs assessment
• Determine the benefit derived from programming
• Assess dynamic behavioral changes and reduction of risk
• Assess re-entry preparation
• Identify continuing treatment needs
• Consider victim concerns and the judge and prosecuting attorney input
The risk assessment by decision makers includes, but is not limited to, the following:
• Has the inmate’s risk been reduced to an acceptable level?
• Will release on parole provide an adequate period of supervision that serves the interest of public safety by reintegrated the inmate into the community on a gradual basis and under parole supervision rather than being released without it?
• Can the criminogenic (crime-producing) needs be addressed through transitional services (Community Correction Center, continuation of care, treatment, programming, etc.)?
• What is the inmate’s attitude, perception of offending?
• Has the inmate successfully completed required treatment and is able to articulate change?
• Has the inmate developed (with the institutional parole agent) a reentry plan that will address continuing criminogenic issues?
• Are there other individual compelling factors related to the inmate’s appropriateness for release?
The board conducts parole interviews at state correctional institutions (state prisons) and county jails.
Parole Decisional Instrument
The board uses the Parole Decisional Instrument to analyze individual cases and guide consistency in decision making. The Parole Decisional Instrument
(pdf) is a guide to advise the decision maker, does not replace professional discretion and does not bind the board to grant or deny parole, or create a right, presumption or reasonable expectation that parole will be granted.
The Parole Decisional Instrument
(pdf) includes the calculation of four primary weighted factors, which determine a threshold score. Each factor is given a point value to determine a parole suggestion.
The four weighted factors are:
1. Violence Indicator by Category: The board holds violent offenses and the likelihood of violence to a higher standard and tougher requirement.
2. Risk/Needs Assessment:
a. Risk relates to the assessed likelihood of re-offending.
b. The board uses two assessment tools: Level of Service Inventory-Revised (LSI-R) and the Static 99
3. Institutional Risk Reduction Programming:
a. Programming is targeted toward medium and high risk offenders.
b. Completion of programming reduces risk of re-offending up to 25%.
c. Completion of programming in the institution is required for high risk/special categories.
4. Institutional Behavior:
a. Conduct in prison reflects demonstrated behavioral change.
After the decision maker has reviewed this information, the next step is the parole interview and the consideration of countervailing factors. Countervailing factors are additional information that is compelling enough to persuade the decision maker to vote contrary to the Parole Decisional Instrument threshold score.
The voting process - the number of votes needed - depends on the type of offense for which the offender was convicted.
A decision maker is either a board member or a hearing examiner. Inmates serving a sentence for a non-violent offense have two decision makers vote their case. Two board members interview inmates serving a sentence for a violent offense. Two affirmative votes are required to grant parole. Sex offenses, 2nd and 3rd degree murder, and special cases at the board’s request are an exception to the violent offense voting. In these cases, a majority of the board must vote in the affirmative to grant parole.
Acts 81 and 83 of 2008 provide for “rebuttable” parole of non-violent individuals. Inmates who meet the eligibility criteria, compliance with the risk reduction programming requirements and are not determined by the board to pose a risk to public safety may be interviewed by one decision maker.
Creation of Board Action (previously known as the Green Sheet)
The decision to grant or refuse parole is recorded for input in the board. The board action is the public record that documents the decision of the board to grant or deny parole. It is commonly called the “green sheet” because it used to be printed on green paper.
After a decision is made, the inmate is given his or her board action/decision. If the inmate is granted parole, the board action contains some of the conditions of parole while the parolee is on supervision and these are explained to the individual. Home plan investigation occurs for inmates who are granted parole. The average time from minimum date to release for inmates interviewed prior to minimum date is approximately one month.
If an inmate is denied parole, the board action will give reasons for the denial, state when the inmate will next be reviewed for parole and what the board expects the inmate to do prior to the next review date.
After inmates are notified that they have been granted parole, they must satisfy certain legal mandates before being released on or after their minimum sentence date:
• A negative drug screening test for illegal drugs
• Submission of a DNA sample, if applicable
• Payment of all victims fees
• Registration as a sexual offender, if applicable
• Violent offenders must complete a Victim Impact Education Program
• Development of a home plan
• Review for detainers
• Office of Victim Advocate (OVA) notification
Even after these requirements are fulfilled, an inmate must have a place to live that is approved by the board, either a home, community corrections center or they may be waiting for a treatment bed in a community facility. When everything is completed and the inmate is fully prepared for release, the parolee signs release orders and conditions of parole on the day of his release.