An Overview of the Texas Parole Process
- September 20, 2017
- Parole, Parole Representation
- The Law Office of Greg Tsioros
- Comments Off on An Overview of the Texas Parole Process
If you have questions about the Texas parole process, this post concerns the conditions and eligibility for a prisoner’s release. As an offender’s eligibility for parole review date approaches, the Texas parole panel at the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles considers his or her case. In some cases, the offender is interviewed by a panel member before the final vote occurs.
The panel is comprised of at least one board member or a combination of parole commissioners and board members. Two out of three of these individuals must vote for parole before it’s granted. In some instances, an offender receives parole only when two-thirds of the seven-member board votes for parole. Parole decisions that involve aggravated sexual assault, capital crimes, offenses involving indecency with a child, or those required to serve at least 35 calendar years before release require a two-thirds majority vote.
What is Parole in Texas?
Parole is a type of supervised release from prison. It’s offered under the conditional and discretionary powers of the Texas parole panel to grant or deny parole to an offender.
Once the offer is eligible for parole, and he or she is approved for release by the panel, he or she is released from a Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) facility, e.g. prison or county jail, in order to serve the remainder of the sentence under community supervision and under the Parole Division’s specific terms.
After he or she is released to supervision, the parolee must regularly report to his or her parole officer while obeying the terms and conditions of parole until the full sentence is complete.
Realize the panelists don’t just vote yes or no
The panelists may use a range of voting options, including:
- FI-1 “Release when eligible”
- FI-2 “Release on a specific month or year”
- FI-3R “Transfer to a TDCJ rehab program; release to parole when the program is completed (no earlier than three months)”
- FI-4R “As above (no earlier than four months)”
- FI-6R “As above (no earlier than six months)”
- FI-9R “As above (no earlier than nine months)”
- FI-18R “As above (no earlier than 18 months)”
- FI-4 “Transfer to a pre-parole facility (before the ‘presumptive parole date,’ release to parole supervision on the presumptive date)
- FI-5 “Transfer to in-prison therapeutic community (IPTC), release to after-care component on completion of IPTC”
- FI-6 “Transfer to DWI program, release to alcohol abuse/care treatment program”
- FI-7R “Transfer to ‘Serious/Violent Offender Re-entry Initiative (SVORI), release to parole on program completion, not before seven months from the specified date”
- NR “Do not release, establish next parole review within month/year”
There are many other options the Texas parole panel may use when deciding your fate. An experienced parole assistance specialist will argue on your behalf before the all-important Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Texas Parole Guidelines
The probability of an offender’s probability of parole involves two components: 1) a “risk assessment” instrument, and 2) offense severity class. Texas Government Code Section 508.149(a) describes annual parole review (or a five-year set-off for individuals serving sentences for violence offenses).
Guidelines regarding the two components intersect:
- The point at which offense severity intersects with risk score shows the parole guideline level for a specific offense.
- The parole guideline levels range from 1 – 7.
- A higher level into which a prospective parolee falls, the greater his or her probability or receiving a favorable recommendation for parole from the panel. A ‘7’ guideline level is better than a ‘6’ guideline level, and so on.
If additional information is added to the offender’s file—and this information was not previously available to the parole panel—then it may be present for a Special Review to the parole panel. This isn’t commonly granted.
Special Release conditions
The panel may include special release conditions for the individual. Common special conditions may include psychological counseling, sex offender requirements, educational programs, intensive supervision, electronic monitoring (EM), participation in an alcohol or drug treatment program, and mandatory drug monitoring (e.g. urinalysis).
Mandatory Supervision Types
- The parole officer has one contact with the individual each month
- The parolee is subject to monthly employment verification or counseling sessions
- The parolee’s residence is verified within 30 days of his or her change of address
- The parole officer makes contact with collateral contacts, (the parolee’s significant others, family members, treatment providers, federal/community supervision officers, employers, etc., or any other party with information or knowledge about the parolee’s activities)
- The parolee’s residence is verified within 30 days or her or his change of address
- The parolee must make contact with the parole officer at his or her office each month
- The parolee receives monthly counseling or his or her employment is verified
- The parole office makes contact with the parolee at his or her home (or field) every two months
- The parolee’s ‘collateral contacts’ are contacted as appropriate
- The parolee has one office contact with the parole officer per month
- The parole officer makes one contact (home or field) each month
- The parolee’s residence is verified within 30 days of his or her change of address
- The parolee receives monthly counseling and/or employment verificationThe parolee’s ‘collateral contacts’ are contacted as appropriate
- Supervision allows the offender to serve his or her maximum sentence in society, less the calendar time he or she actually served.
In some instances, an offender that meets the criteria below may have the option to report for a face-to-face office visit just once per quarter (90 days) if approved by his or her supervising parole officer’s United Supervisor. The offender must meet/maintain the criteria:
- He or she has been supervised at least five years
- He or she has prior conviction(s) or ‘instant offense(s)’ (pending charge he or she is currently facing), not including a sex offense
- He or she has a reassessment score of ‘minimum supervision status’
- He or she is current on fees payment: these are payable each month (unless the parolee pays them in advance)
- He or she is current (and remains current) on payment of restitution
- He or she is compliant concerning all special conditions
- He or she hasn’t had warrant(s) issued in the current supervision period
Early release from parole supervision
A parolee may be released from parole supervision if his or her parole officer recommends it. The parolee must:
- Be under current supervision (at least 50 percent of the time left on the sentence, after release)
- Have no parole violations (for the prior two years and—not revoked)
Super-Intensive Supervision Program Violent Assaultive Offenders
A parolee in the Super-Intensive Supervision Program (SISP) is supervised at the highest possible level. An offender on SISP is supervised by some type of electronic monitoring device and must comply with 24-hour schedules that have written pre-approval from his or her parole officer. He or she will have 15 visits per month with the parole officer.
The Texas Parole Division uses GPS monitoring to accurately determine the location of high-profile parolees on SISP. These individuals are supervised 24/7 if:
- A current or prior conviction involved violent act(s)
- A current or prior conviction involved violent act(s) that resulted in bodily injury
- A current or prior conviction (including a juvenile conviction) for an offense that involved threat(s) of violent acts with resulting bodily injury
A SISP offender is supervised by a specially-trained parole officer. The SISP parole officer manages a lower caseload (14 SISP offenders). The SISP officer completes 15 contacts per month with the offender, including:
- Six face-to-face meetings with the offender
- Six drive-bys
- One residence verification
What is the Texas Parole Process?
Your parole process begins after conviction. An experienced Texas parole attorney’s job is to advocate for you during the Texas parole process.
In simple terms, your parole attorney will help to define:
- Parole eligibility date
- Next parole eligibility date (if you were previously denied parole)
- Time served
Your parole eligibility date is determined by Texas law (that may have been previously in effect) when the crime was committed.
To become parole-eligible for a “3g” (aggravated) offense, you must serve one-third to one-half of your sentence without consideration of any “work” or “good” time. This means the parole panel only considers the flat time towards the total of your sentence.
You must serve at least two years of flat time in Texas.
To become parole-eligible for a non-3g (non-aggravated) matter, you’re required to have credits (the total of flat, work, and/or good time) that equal 25 percent of your sentence.
If you’re parole-eligible, it doesn’t mean you’ll be approved by the panel to receive parole:
- Parole is never automatic: it’s offered at the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles’ discretion
- Even if you’re parole-eligible many times—and the panelists review your file each time—you might be required to serve the full original sentence.
This is one of the most important reasons you need a parole attorney in Texas.
Once your parole eligibility is determined, your Texas parole attorney reviews and investigates your case. He will identify relevant issues to obtaining parole. He will interview you in the TDCJ unit to develop a parole plan. He will organize the parole plan and prepare an eye-pleasing and thorough presentation called a parole packet. Your parole packet is presented to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. The packet is the basis of your presentation to the Board.
Parole advocacy is essential
Never underestimate the value of parole advocacy. If you or a loved one is entering the parole review process, you need a Texas parole attorney who will present a persuasive and organized argument to show that you’re ready to assume your place in society.
Confusions about the Texas Parole Process
The Texas Parole Board and the Texas parole system are often both intimidating and confusing. A criminal defense attorney focusing on the parole assistance arena can make the difference.
An experienced parole assistance attorney can help the parole panel to understand why it should grant parole.
Time is of the essence
Timelines established by the Texas parole panel aren’t flexible. If you’re up for parole review, or you expect to be up for review soon, act now.
Unlike your trial date arranged at a certain day and time, your parole eligibility date isn’t:
- Your inmate files may go into review status approximately six-months before the eligibility date
- Your pardon assistance package must be submitted according to the required timelines within the six-month period
Why You Need an Experience Texas Parole Attorney NOW
- Your file will receive just five minutes or less with the parole panel. Just 34 percent of inmates are granted parole now.
- How can you improve your chances of parole? If the panel says no, your next set-off could be five years in the future. You could better use of those years on parole.
It’s your job to determine the type of legal support you receive. If you’d like a parole assistance attorney to work carefully and diligently on the file, prepare your family members and you, collect the necessary materials to prepare the parole assistance package to be submitted in a timely manner to the board—and who will argue vigorously on your behalf to the parole panelists—hire The Law Office of Greg Tsioros. Call Mr. Tsioros now to discuss your case at (832)752-5972.