Frequently Asked Questions About Parole in Texas
Parole Questions and Answers Provided by Houston, Texas Lawyer Greg Tsioros
What’s the Difference Between Parole and Probation?
Parole and probation are both alternatives to serving time behind bars. Both parole and probation have many stipulations the individual must follow, or otherwise be in jeopardy of a probation or probation violation, and ultimately, placed in jail or sent back to prison. The similarities of parole and probation stop here, however.
Probation is granted to an individual charged with a crime before sending the person to jail or prison. An individual is placed on probation for a specified period. At the expiration of this time, the person is released from probation if they’ve followed the rules of probation and paid accompanying fees.
Parole is granted after an individual has served a partial term of a sentence in prison. Usually, parole hearings are granted after 1/3 of the sentence has been fulfilled. An experienced attorney can assist with the review and application for parole. It isn’t easy to make parole, especially in Texas, so those fortunate enough to get the opportunity must be on their best behavior and follow all laws and rules of parole. This might include house arrest, admission into a rehabilitation program, or other stipulations. Failure to follow the rules, or in the instance of being charged with another crime, can result in a parole violation.
What Are the Requirements to be Eligible for Parole?
Parole is an opportunity at freedom and a second shot at life. Parole isn’t granted to all of the more than 10,000 inmates in the state who are eligible; only a select few who meet eligibility requirements and other factors are granted parole each year. Inmates with a sentence indicating parole eligibility are granted a parole hearing after serving 1/3 of the original sentence, except in the case of inmates serving time for sexually violent crimes or first-degree felonies. Inmates with life sentences must serve a minimum of 35 years before becoming eligible for parole.
Good time credit may reduce this time, and the inmate must be given a parole hearing before serving 15 years. The Parole Board determines whether to keep the inmate in prison and hear the matter at a later date or give them immunity and a second chance at life. The Parole Board bases their decision upon several factors, including the inmates’ behavior during incarceration, programs completed while in prison, contributions made to other inmates/society while in prison, and the inmate’s threat to public safety, if released.
It is also important to understand the inmates plans, if they are released, such as living arrangements and employment details. The Parole Board wants to know the inmate will be a productive member of society before considering their release.
What Are Texas Parole Laws?
Texas Government Code, Chapter 508, governs parole laws in the state. These laws mandate the length of time an inmate must serve before becoming eligible for parole, the eligibility requirements of parole, and several other important pieces of information. Any inmate who is soon becoming eligible for parole, as well as their immediate supporting family members, should familiarize themselves with this Code before the date of parole hearing.
What Are the Penalties for Violating Parole?
When an inmate is granted parole, there are many rules and stipulations placed upon the individual. These rules and stipulations must be followed carefully, and failure to adhere to the required policy may result in a parole violation. Being charged with another crime while on parole release may also warrant a parole violation. When parole is violated, a blue warrant may be issued, causing parole revocation, sending the person back to prison to serve a portion or the remainder of their original sentence, in addition to any time given for a new criminal conviction.
What is a Parole Packet?
A parole packet is a package of information collected and presented to the parole board in favor of parole for an inmate. An inmate’s attorney or family usually creates this package before the parole hearing date. The parole packet is a beneficial step toward a successful parole hearing, although it is not required.