Parole violators are classified as either convicted parole violators (CPVs) or technical parole violators (TPVs).
A CPV is a parolee under the jurisdiction of the board who violates the terms and conditions of the parole by committing a new crime. They are detained in prison under a board warrant until their new charges have been settled – even if they post bail. In the instance of a non-violent offense, the board has discretion to take or not take the “street” time the parolee spent on parole. For a violent offenses, the parolee loses all of the street time spent on parole, which leads to a sentence recalculation and a parole violation maximum expiration date.
A TPV is a parolee under the jurisdiction of the board who violates the terms and conditions of parole, other than by committing a new crime. Breaking curfew, moving without permission or unauthorized contact with a victim are examples of technical parole violations. These violators may be sanctioned by an additional constraint on their freedom, sent to a treatment program or be recommitted to prison, depending on the severity and frequency of the violation.
During an offender’s initial meeting with his or her parole agent, the conditions governing parole are thoroughly explained to the offender by the parole agent. The offender signs a form to indicate he or she understands all of the conditions and that he or she understands parole supervision staff may add special conditions of parole.
The conditions clearly state that if the parolee violates a condition of parole/re-parole he or she may be recommitted to prison.
Offenders who violate parole are entitled to parole violation hearings to establish that they violated the conditions of their parole and they have rights at these hearings. However, the standard for violation of parole is not as high as that of a criminal trial. The standard is a preponderance of the evidence – it must be more likely than not that parolee violated the condition.
Management of Technical Parole Violators
Parolees who are returned to prison for technical violations are more likely to fail if re-paroled later compared to parolees who are able to maintain active ties within their community. Most offenders can be safely and effectively managed in the community where they are connected with family and resources. When offenders commit less serious or minor technical violations they are responded to by intermediate sanctions in lieu of incarceration.
These practices include the use of intermediate sanctions and community based programs, many in community corrections facilities, focusing on crime prevention. The programs use risk and needs assessments to address the root causes of the crime- producing behavior, provide behavioral treatment, and use cognitive behavioral approaches to change criminal thinking.
The board’s violation sanctioning grid (VSG)
(pdf) incorporates important factors such as the risk level, severity and number of violations in order to bring consistency to the sanctioning process. The VSG recommends a proportional response based on these factors and provides a menu of graduated sanctions from which staff selects the one that has the best chance of correcting the specific errant behavior.
Sanctions range from a written warning to placement in a substance abuse program. It is important to understand that although these violations are “technical,” they can lead to criminal behavior if not addressed. When this occurs, parolees are returned to prison as technical or criminal parole violators depending on the type of violation.
Often the last violation may be the “straw that broke the camel’s back” if an offender has been repeatedly violating technical conditions of parole or has been in and out of drug treatment and has not been successful.
Offenders whose recommitment (recorded board decision) occurred before January 1, 2013, are not affected by Act 122. These offenders may be recommitted to serve the remainder of their sentence.
If any of the following types of violations occur, the parolee will be detained in or recommitted to a state correctional institution (SCI) or a contracted county jail (CCJ). A parolee recommitted for any of these violations can be recommitted for up to six months for the first recommitment, up to nine months for the second recommitment, and up to one year for the third and subsequent recommitments:
1. The violation was sexual in nature.
2. The violation involved assaultive behavior.
3. The violation involved possession or control of a weapon.
4. The parolee absconded, and the parolee cannot be safely diverted to a community corrections center or community corrections facility.
5. There exists an identifiable threat to public safety, and the parolee cannot be safely diverted to a community corrections center or community corrections facility.
At the end of the commitment period, the offender is automatically reparoled, unless during the commitment the offender committed a disciplinary infraction involving assaultive behavior, sexual assault, a weapon or controlled substances; spent more than 90 days in segregated housing due to one or more disciplinary infractions; or refused programming or a work assignment.
All other technical parole violators will be placed in a secure parole violator center
(PVC) (pdf). In a parole violator center, offenders are not permitted to leave the center without an official escort.
Parole violator centers are designed to focus on providing immediate treatment and programming that is specific to each offender’s circumstance. The goal of the board is to quickly address the circumstances that caused the offender to violate the conditions of parole and to facilitate behavior change in order to help offenders successfully complete parole and lead a law-abiding lifestyle.
The length of stay is dependent on offender programming needs and commitment to satisfying the requirements of the program and satisfactory adjustment while at the center. The maximum period of custody is six months.
Offender benefits from this program include:
• The offender will be placed in the parole violator center instead of returning to a state correctional institution, which will keep the offender close to community support systems.
• The offender will immediately receive programming at the parole violator center. If an offender waives the right to a hearing and completes all programs, he or she does not need to go through the board’s violation hearing process.
• The offender will likely be released to an approved home plan in a much shorter time period as long as he or she successfully completes ALL programming or any other requirements.
When does parole end?
Parole ends when an offender has served their maximum sentence while under parole supervision without having their parole revoked. When their maximum sentence date arrives, offenders are discharged from parole supervision and receive a congratulatory letter from the district office where their supervising agent works.