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Parole Review & Application

The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

Parole Review & Application

Parole Application and Assistance in the State of Texas

Parole is an early release from prison to serve a portion of the prison sentence in the community. Not everyone is granted parole who is in prison, but most Texas inmates will become eligible. Parole may be granted once the inmate becomes eligible for parole if they:

  1. Observed and adhered to the rules of the prison
  2. Agree to obey local, state, and federal laws and to not promote disrespect for the law and/or criminal justice system
  3. Will not jeopardize the public safety and welfare

Parole decisions are made by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles members and commissioners. If you are up for parole, retaining professional representation provides several benefits. The inmate does not have the right to be present at the parole hearing but can retain an attorney to represent them

Offenders sentenced to death, to life without parole, or for the crime of commission of continuous sexual abuse of a minor (Penal Code 21.02) are not eligible for parole. Also, State Jail convictions are not applicable for parole eligibility.

Parole Guidelines

The parole guidelines are comprised of two primary components to guide the Board in granting parole:

  • The Risk Assessment Instrument includes static factors associated with the offender’s prior criminal record. Static factors do not change over time. The instrument also includes dynamic factors, which reflect characteristics the offender has demonstrated since incarceration, and they can change over time.
  • The Offense Severity Class is a classification assigned to each felony offense in the statute. Offense Severity Classes range from Low, for non-violent crimes, to Moderate, High, and Highest, for capital murder. If an inmate is in prison for more than one offense, the most serious active offense is used to assign the Offense Severity Class.

The Risk Assessment and the Offense Severity are set into a matrix that creates an offender’s Parole Guideline Score. Male and female inmates have separate risk scales.

The Parole Guideline Scores range from 1 for an individual with the poorest probability of success, up to 7, for an offender with the greatest probability of success.

Parole Application and Assistance in Texas

For all non-aggravated offenses, an inmate is eligible for parole when the actual calendar time served plus time for good conduct reaches one-quarter of the sentence or 15 years, whichever is less.

Aggravated offenses require inmates to serve actual calendar time without consideration for good time up to at least half of the sentence or 30 years (whichever is less) before becoming eligible for parole. No one imprisoned on an aggravated offense may become eligible for parole in less than two years. Aggravated offenses include any offense in which a deadly weapon is found, continuous trafficking of persons, and engaging in organized criminal activity, as seen in Texas Government Code 508.145

A Parole Board, consisting of three members, oversees the parole hearing. These members review the inmate’s file, deciding to continue incarceration for an inmate or allowing an early release unless the parolee violates the conditions of their parole.

The inmate, inmate’s family, inmate attorney, and the Texas Parole Board receive information concerning parole eligibility approximately six months before the actual date. The inmate’s attorney may present the Parole Board with a Parole Packet. 

Elements of a Parole Hearing

The parole hearing may include:

  • A written description of the original offense for which the inmate was sent to prison
  • A recap of the inmate’s achievements and behavior in prison
  • The inmate’s plans for the future outside of prison
  • The inmate’s explanation of how they will manage challenges
  • The inmate’s criminal history and likelihood that they will commit new offenses

How the Date for First Parole Review Is Calculated as of September 2015:

The laws that were in effect when the offense was committed determine a person’s eligibility for parole and mandatory supervision. Time in custody or county jail is credited to the person’s sentence. It is included in establishing the date of eligibility for the first parole review.

Example

An inmate was in custody for six months before receiving a ten-year sentence. If the case was not a first-degree felony, violent sexual crime, or repeat felony, the inmate is eligible for parole in 14 months, eight days (one year, two months, and eight days).

With six months in custody credited toward the inmate’s sentence, the new date of parole eligibility is approximately eight months after sentencing.

14 months – 6 months = 8 months

For the most effective defense, you should hire an attorney well in advance of the calculated appearance date shown in the parole and discretionary mandatory supervision chart below.

Remember, the Parole Board now places inmates into parole review six months before the calculated eligibility date and voting cases as early as three months before the calculated appearance date.

Parole Eligibility and Parole Release Dates

In general, an inmate is eligible for parole after one-quarter, one-third, or one-half of their time has been served in prison. Your eligibility date for parole is set by your conviction requirements and the state’s legislative statutes governing your conviction. 

The time you must serve to become eligible varies according to your offense. It may be a percentage of your time served or a specific number of years. You may be eligible for good conduct time, which shortens the way to an opportunity for supervised release. Factors enhancing your possibility of parole include:

  • Avoiding major disciplinary cases
  • Preparing for your parole hearing much earlier than the eligibility date
  • Participating in educational or vocational training while in prison
PAROLE DISCRETIONARY MANDATORY
Yrs. 3g Offenses All Other Offenses 3g/508.149 Offenses All Other Offenses
1 N/A 1 mos 13 days N/A 5 mos 21 days
2 N/A 2 mos 25 days N/A 11 mos 8 days
3 2 yrs 4 mos 8 days N/A 1 yr 5 mos 2 days
4 2 yrs 5 mos 21 days N/A 1 yr 10 mos 22 days
5 2 yrs 6 mos 7 mos 3 days N/A 2 yrs 4 mos 12 days
6 3 yrs 8 mos 15 days N/A 2 yrs 10 mos 3 days
7 3 yrs 6 mos 10 mos 0 days N/A 3 yrs 3 mos 20 days
8 4 yrs 11 mos 8 days N/A 3 yrs 9 mos 16 days
9 4 yrs 6 mos 1 yr 0 mos 24 days N/A 7 yrs 3 mos 4 days
10 5 yrs I yr 2 mos 8 days N/A 4 yrs 8 mos 24 days
11 5 yrs 6 mos 1 yr 9 mos 9 days N/A 6 yrs 1 mos 6 days
15 7 yrs 6 mos 2 yr 1 mos 20 days N/A 7 yrs 1 mos 6 days
20 10 yrs 2 yrs 4 mos 12 days N/A 9 yrs 5 mos 18 days
25 12 yrs 6 mos 2 yrs 11 mos 15 days N/A 11 yrs 10 mos
30 15 yrs 3 yrs 6 mos 18 days N/A 14 yrs 2 mos 12 days
35 17 yrs 6 mos 4 yrs 1 mos 21 days N/A 16 yr 6 mos 24 days
40 20 yrs 4 yrs 9 mos N/A 18 yr 11 mos 6 days
45 22 yrs 6 mos 5 yrs 4 mos 3 days N/A 21 yrs 3 mos 18 days
50 25 yrs 5 yrs 11 mos 8 days N/A 23 yrs 8 mos
55 27 yrs 6 mos 6 yrs 6 mos 11 days N/A 26 yrs 12 days
60 30 yrs 7 yrs 1 mos 15 days N/A 28 yrs 4 mos 24 days
LIFE 30 yrs 7 yrs 1 mos 15 days N/A N/A

 

The Parole Review Process

  1. Notice: A notice is sent to inmates who are parole eligible. The notice is also sent to victim’s family members, attorneys, and other trial officials.
  2. Initial Interview: A brief interview between the inmate and an Institutional Parole office is conducted. This interview examines the inmate’s life and provides a case summary for the board to hear.
  3. Board Review: A Lead Voter is assigned to the inmate’s review. The Lead Voter is selected from any of the seven board offices in the state. This voter reviews the inmate’s life summary and prison file.
  4. Board Interview: An interview with the board usually doesn’t take place during a parole review unless specifically requested by the victim of the offender (or the victim’s family, if such applies.) An attorney may also request a Board Interview, if the necessary paperwork has been properly filed on time.
  5. Board Decision: After the parole board, has reviewed the file and conducted interviews, a vote takes place. Three parole board panel members take the vote.

Parole Board Decisions

The parole board’s decision is not a simple approve or deny vote. There are 11 different variations and multiple mandatory conditions from which the Board selects with an approval code. The decision-making process includes testing life skills, checking educational program participation, sex offender counseling, addiction program participation, and more.

If an inmate was denied parole previously or failed probation, it could impact the Board’s decision. In these cases, legal help is essential.

If the Parole Board votes to deny parole, it can provide notification using boilerplate language or a predetermined template. The Board is not required to explain its decision in detail. If the inmate’s parole is denied, the case may be heard again within 1 year, 3 years, or 5 years depending on the crime for which they were convicted. Below are the approval and denial codes.

Approval Codes

FI-1: Further investigation- 1 is the code used for an offender who is granted parole and should be released on supervised parole as soon as eligibly date.

FI-2: Parole granted, on a future specified date.

FI-3R: Inmate is to be transferred to a TDCJ rehabilitation program for a period no less than four months. Offender is released on parole after successful completion of the program.

FI-4R: Inmate should be transferred to a Sex Offender Education Program, or SOEP, for a period no less than four months. Offender is released on parole upon successful completion of the program.

FI-5: Inmate is transferred to an In-Prison Therapeutic Community Program with release to an aftercare program after completion.

FI-6: Inmate is transferred to a DWO rehabilitation program. Release to a continuing care program after completion.

FI-6R: Inmate is transferred to a rehabilitation program for a period of no less than six months. After completion, offender is released on parole.

FI-7R: Inmate is transferred to a Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative program for a period no less than seven months. Parole release is granted after successful completion.

FI-9R: Inmate is transferred to a Sex Offender Treatment Program for at least nine months. Parole release after completion.

FI-18R: Inmate is transferred to a Sex Offender Treatment Program for a period of at least 18 months. Parole release after successful completion.

CU-FI: Indicates the date of parole eligibility for an inmate serving consecutive sentences.

RMS: Release with Mandatory Supervision

Denial Codes

NR: Next Review is also called a set off. The next review can be set for a period of up to 5 years in the future, although most reviews for less serious crimes take place within one year.

SA: A Serve All parole board review is a denial of release without a regular review in the future.

Preparing For a Parole Hearing

Before your parole hearing, you will work with your hired attorney to prepare a parole packet. A parole packet consists of a variety of documents (listed below). The file should have a logical sequence that leads the Parole Board through your offense, what you did while incarcerated to improve your life, and how you expect to live once you are out of prison.

A parole packet is comprised of:

  • An introductory letter
  • A parole plan
  • Your criminal history
  • Your disciplinary history
  • Your educational history
  • Your employment history
  • Your substance abuse history
  • Your spiritual development
  • Your goal statements
  • Your penance statement
  • Support letters 

Your parole packet is the best method for making your case for release from prison. It provides all the resources the Parole Board needs to make an informed decision on your suitability for parole and supervised release. Ideally, the packet provides the Board with your pathway to redemption, showing how you accepted your responsibility and worked to become someone who can successfully and productively live in the community.

You should begin the legal process of preparing for your parole review about a year before your parole eligibility date. It takes time to document your file and go through the administrative process properly. A parole packet can take anywhere from three to six months to assemble. You need time to let the appropriate people know how to write a support letter and receive them. Your attorney needs time to identify and collect all the other significant documents required for your parole hearing and packet. 

Your best response to being incarcerated is to begin preparing for parole from the moment you enter the prison. Concentrate on avoiding disciplinary issues, taking classes, therapy and rehabilitation for any problems that had a factor in your incarceration, and developing a living plan in the community once you have served your time.

Texas Parole Reviews

Inmates and their families should understand the parole review hearing process well before the scheduled hearing date. All too often, inmates are judged even before their file is examined, and a decision is made without the proper knowledge of the case. Being unfamiliar with the parole review process increases the likelihood of such occurring.

Greg Tsioros, Houston parole attorney, ensures families understand the complex parole hearing process, their rights, and the proper steps to increase the odds of the inmate being paroled and given early release. Greg Tsioros aims to ease some of the uncertainty that might be felt when it is time for a parole hearing, ensuring clients get the advice and advocacy needed to make the process simpler.

Working closely with the inmate and their families, Greg Tsioros gets to know everyone involved in the matter on a personal level and prepares a parole packet favorable for the release of the prisoner. With empathy, compassion, and an understanding of human life, attorney Greg Tsioros offers his legal expertise and skills, as well as his background working as a Houston prosecutor to work for his clients, ensuring a fair and just parole hearing.

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