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Factors that Determine an Offender’s Chances for Being Granted Parole in Texas

Parole Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

Factors that Determine an Offender’s Chances for Being Granted Parole in Texas

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The Texas Board of Paroles and Pardons determines whether or not offenders in the state’s prisons are eligible for parole. They do not make these decisions lightly. They weigh the criteria for parole carefully before issuing an official decision on each offender’s parole petition.

If you or someone in your family has an upcoming parole hearing, you need to know how the board will gauge each case. By understanding the process for awarding an offender parole, you might anticipate the chances of the board ruling in your favor.

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Risk Assessment

The Texas Board of Parole and Pardons partnered with the Bureau of Justice Assistance in 2015 to create a range for recommended parole approval rates. This range was based on research that changed the board’s former guideline level from four to three in its high-risk category. It also now takes into consideration two separate criteria, risk assessment and offense severity, to determine if an offender can be safely granted parole into the community.

The risk assessment for determining one’s eligibility for parole evaluates static factors and dynamic factors. Static factors examine each offender’s prior criminal history. They do not change and refer to the characteristics that the person has exhibited since the time he or she was first imprisoned and what if any behavioral changes he or she has adopted over time.

Some of the static factors evaluated during the parole eligibility process include:

  • The offender’s age when he or she was sent to a juvenile or adult facility
  • Supervisory release history if applicable
  • His or her past imprisonments
  • Any revocations for felony offenses
  • Employment history
  • The offense for which the offender was last committed

The parole board will assign a score ranging from zero to ten based on these static factors. The lower the score, the better the chance for paroling the offender into the community.

Dynamic Factors

The Texas Board of Paroles and Pardons will also evaluate each offender’s dynamic factors. These factors are those that change during the time the person is in prison. They include:

  • The offender’s current age
  • Whether or not the parole petitioner is a member of a gang or a known security threat group
  • What if any educational or vocational training he or she has completed in prison
  • What certified on-the-job training the person has undertaken
  • The offender’s disciplinary record in prison
  • The person’s current custody level

As with static factors, the dynamic factors receive a final score ranging from zero to nine. A higher score indicates that the person would pose a greater risk to the community while out on parole.

Offense Severity

Each petitioner who comes before the parole board undergoes an offense severity evaluation. The board assigns a rank to every offense in the state’s current statutes.

The scores range from low for non-violent crimes like financial crimes or credit card fraud to the highest rankings being reserved for violent crimes like capital murder. If a person is currently in prison for more than one offense, he or she will be evaluated for the most severe crime that is identified in the established list for offense severity.

Parole Guidelines Score

Once the parole board determines the offender’s risk assessment and offense severity, it can compile a parole guidelines score. The range of scores differ for male and female offenders. They range from one to seven. A score of one indicates the poorest possibility of success with parole while a score of seven indicates the greatest chances of success in being out on parole.

Conditions for Parolees

The Texas Board of Paroles and Pardons does not stop evaluating a person’s eligibility for parole once parole is granted. In fact, each parolee in the state remains under constant scrutiny until they complete their prison sentences.

While parole allows offenders to serve out the remainder of their prison sentences in the community, they still must comply carefully with the rules that the state of Texas establishes for them. First, they must understand that parole is a privilege and not a right. This privilege can be revoked at any time if they fail to comply with the terms of their parole.

Second, parolees are required to meet regularly with their parole officers. These meetings take place not only at the parole office but also in the parolee’s home and place of work. They must submit to random checks by their parole officers as well as regular hair or urine testing for drug or alcohol use. If they fail these tests, they can be sent back to prison immediately.

Parolees likewise are required to get a job and maintain a steady residence. They cannot move without the approval of their parole officer. If they want or have to move to a new residence, they must notify their parole officer immediately.

Finally, depending on the terms of their parole, offenders cannot live near schools or childcare facilities and could be required to register on the state’s offender list. They cannot possess firearms or other weapons during the time they are on parole. Their parole officers are allowed to perform random checks of their vehicles and homes to ensure their full compliance.

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Retain Legal Counsel

If you or a loved one are eligible for parole, you could better your chances for being released by hiring an experienced parole lawyer. Your lawyer will know the scoring matrix and ranges that the board uses to determine your chances of success. He or she could show the board that you present a low risk to the community and have earned the privilege of being granted parole.

The Texas Board of Paroles and Pardons is responsible for keeping the community safe from dangerous offenders. Before releasing someone from prison on parole, the board members evaluate each case carefully.

They use scoring criteria to determine someone’s chances of integrating back into society successfully. You can present your best defense to the board during your parole hearing by hiring a skilled parole lawyer to represent you.

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