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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Parole

Parole Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Parole

Did you know that around 80% of released inmates get out of jail by agreeing to adhere to the conditions of parole?

That’s a surprising thing to learn for those who aren’t too familiar with the criminal justice system. Most people may believe individuals get arrested, serve their time, and then get released without any further restrictions. Despite the assumption, that isn’t how America’s criminal justice system operates in real-life.

Did you find the statistic above shocking? If so, then you’ve got more to discover about our nation’s parole system. Learn five things you didn’t know about parole below.

1. Your Rights Are Very Limited in Parole Hearings

According to the US Declaration of Independence, all men are created equal and endowed with certain unalienable rights. Despite that statement, citizens who have been convicted of a crime no longer enjoy those rights.

Individuals who have been accused of a crime do still maintain a lot of rights, but convicted criminals have very few rights. This holds true during parole hearings, too.

US courts consider parole an “act of grace” rather than a right. That means inmates aren’t afforded any protections or rights when it comes to the parole process. A parole board can make a decision about whether to grant parole or not based on any reason. Some parole boards do have guidelines on how members should make decisions, but often there are not many laws that require parole board members to follow the set guidelines.

For an inmate, this process can seem very unfair. Parole board members may decide to bar an individual from being granted parole based on their own prejudices or preconceived notions about the inmate. Inmates rarely get a fair shake during parole hearings. Sometimes, the parole board won’t even meet the inmate face-to-face before making a decision.

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2. Parole Does Not Equal Early Release

Many people make the mistake of thinking parole is the same thing as getting released from jail early. That’s not the case. In fact, parole possibilities are actually considered before the inmate is ever sentenced.

When a judge hands down a sentence, the court must specify how much time the inmate must serve before becoming eligible for parole. So, when a judge gives a sentence of “5-15 years,” that means the inmate has the possibility of getting paroled after they’ve served five years in prison.

No one is eligible for parole until they’ve served a minimum number of years. In reality, inmates don’t become eligible for parole until they’ve already served a large percentage of their sentence.

3. Your Parole Conditions Might Differ From Another Inmate’s Conditions 

Another wrong assumption people make about parole is that all inmates have to adhere to the same parole conditions. That’s far from the truth! Instead, each inmate gets released on different parole conditions based on the board’s recommendations. Here are some of the most common conditions:

  • Gain legitimate employment ASAP
  • Submit to drug tests regularly
  • Agree to attend drug or alcohol meetings
  • Refrain from contacting any victims of your previous crimes
  • Find a stable place to live
  • Not leaving a specific area without permission from your parole officer

In most situations, the released inmate will be assigned a parole officer who will keep track of their progress. This parole officer has the right to require that you meet them periodically, visit your home unannounced, and to drug test you. 

On top of all these restrictions, the terms and conditions of your parole may change. If that ever happens, you will be notified about the changes in a timely manner.

Research shows that about 33% of individuals released on probation or parole violate the terms of their release.

4. Getting Parole is Difficult

After reading the facts above, you might think that getting paroled is straight-forward. It’s anything but an easy process, especially for incarcerated inmates.

Not only will convicted offenders need to prove to the parole board that they’re a good candidate for parole, but they’ll also have to prove that they’re likely to reintegrate into society without falling back on their old habits. As you can imagine, that’s no easy feat! Any type of bad behavior in prison can result in denied parole. On the other hand, good behavior is no guarantee that the parole board will listen to your side of the story, either. If you were convicted of a violent or serious crime, it’s unlikely that the parole board will agree to allow you out on parole even if you’ve been on your best behavior since.

Some states, like Texas, make inmates wait up to ten years before getting to plead their case again if they’re denied parole the first time.

Contact parole lawyer Greg Tsioros today»

5. Almost Anyone Can Get on a Parole Board 

Have you ever wondered if you could be part of a parole board? You may be surprised to learn that most states have a very low bar when it comes to who can join the board. One survey conducted by the University of Minnesota found that 19 states have no mandated qualifications that dictate who can become a member of a parole board.

Only about 14 states require some form of criminal justice experience. In the majority, nearly anyone can get on the parole board!

Top 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Parole

These five facts about parole hopefully taught you a little bit more about how our nation’s criminal justice system really operates. While it’s shocking, the majority of released inmates will go through the parole process before actually becoming free again.

Are you or a loved one hoping to get released on parole soon? Is your parole date coming up? If so, then there are a few things you can do to help you secure a favorable outcome. Our experienced attorneys are here to help inmates achieve parole and re-integrate into society. If you’re looking for a legal representative to support you through the parole process, then reach out to our office now.

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