How the Texas Parole Board Makes Decisions
- April 25, 2018
- Parole, Parole Review & Application
- The Law Office of Greg Tsioros
- Comments Off on How the Texas Parole Board Makes Decisions
If you or a loved one is parole-eligible—or you’re within six months of parole eligibility—you may have questions about the ways the Texas Parole Board makes decisions.
Parole is a complex topic. According to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, members of the parole panel want to their decisions to be just. The parole panel’s guiding principles include 1) restoring human potential and 2) providing “prudent conditions of release for (the offender’s) structured reintegration…into the community, (while) always conscious of public safety.”
Texas Parole Review Process
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Parole Division identifies future parole-eligible inmates six months before their initial parole eligibility begins and four months before any subsequent review dates. The offender’s case file is then pulled for review. Thereafter, the Parole Division:
- Sends a written notice to family members of the victim, the victim(s), or trial officials involved in the case
- Interviews the offender (an Institutional Parole Officer, or IPO, of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles performs the interview) and creates a parole case summary for the Texas Parole Board.
- The designated board office reviews and votes on the offender’s file.
- The parole panel is comprised of three voting members. Two votes’ majority is necessary for a final decision.
- Voting occurs sequentially. One member of the panel records his or her vote, then passes it to another panel member. When two members vote similarly, the vote is considered final.
- When the first two votes are different, the third member breaks the tie with his or her vote.
- An interview may be scheduled with the offender at its discretion. (Support or protest letters lodged by victims, victims’ family members, or trial officials are considered.)
- If a victim(s) requests an interview by the parole panel, it must agree as defined by law.
- The parole panel notifies the offender of their decision in writing.
- If the offender is denied parole, the communication includes his or her next review date.
- If the offender is granted parole, the communication may include specific terms and conditions.
Facts Considered by Members of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles’ Parole Panel
Members of the parole panel typically review 1) the seriousness of the offense or offenses, 2) letters of support or protest submitted to the panel on behalf of the offender, 3) the amount of time the offender has served and the original sentence length, 4) the offender’s criminal history as well as other arrests, probation, and/or parole, 5) the offender’s age now, 6) the number of times he or she has been incarcerated, 7) his or her juvenile criminal history, if any, and 8) how well the offender has adjusted to institutional life, i.e. the offender’s participation in education opportunities or specialized programs.
How the Members of the Parole Panel Consider the Parole-Eligible Person’s Record
- When considering the offender’s criminal history, the board must determine if A) the offender’s record doesn’t include documented patterns of assaultive or violent arrests/convictions, or D) his or her record shows repeated criminal episodes, indicating a predisposition to commit (new) criminal acts on release.
- The board considers the nature of the offense. It must determine if A) the offender’s record shows he or she committed “non-violent offenses” and the offender shows “no tendency toward violent or assaultive behavior” (and that he or she has limited potential to commit assaultive-type crimes in the future) or D) his or her record shows the tendency to commit violent or assaultive behaviors in the future.
- Next, members of the parole panel review the offender’s drug or alcohol involvement. They must determine if the offender’s record shows either A) limited or no involvement with drugs or illicit substance abuse or D) he or she has demonstrative excessive involvement with substance abuse.
- The parole panel reviews the offender’s adjustment to prison. They determine if A) the offender’s record shows that he or she has achieved satisfactory adjustment to prison or D) his or her record shows unsatisfactory adjustment to prison.
- Members of the panel review the offender’s adjustment in periods of supervision. Has he or she demonstrated A) successful adjustment in prior periods of mandatory supervision, probation, or parole or D) unsuccessful adjustment in a prior parole, probation, or mandatory supervision that required his or her incarceration (including parole-in-absentia).
- The parole panel reviews the offender’s recorded participation in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice-CID proposed and/or specialized programs to determine if A) the offender participated in and completed activities or programs mandated in his or her treatment plan (and this successful completion may enhance his or her future ability to get and keep a stable job) or D) the offender wouldn’t participate or even intentially refused to complete programs or activities offered by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice-CID in his or her treatment plan.
- Parole panel members consider the length of time the offender has served and if A) this time period is congruent with the offender’s criminal history and the severity of the offense or D) the time period is incongruent with his or her criminal history and the severity of the offense.
- If the offender has been D) convicted of felony charges while incarcerated, or if the offender was D) charged or indicted before a magistrate, the panel takes the facts into consideration.
- Members of the parole panel consider discretionary mandatory supervision. The member must vote A) to release the offender to discretionary supervision or decide D1) the offender’s accrued good conduct time doesn’t accurately reflect his or her potential for successful rehabilitation, or D2) the offender’s record reflects the potential for endangering the public if he or she is released to mandatory supervision.
- Parole panel members consider whether the offender has gang affiliations by voting A) he or she isn’t a confirmed member of a designated security threat group or D) he or she is a confirmed member of a gang.
- Members of the parole panel may provide “OTHER” details next, voting A (for positive information or D (for negative considerations).
An “A” vote is in the parole-eligible individual’s favor. A “D” vote is a negative contributing factor.
Members of the Texas Parole Board Decide Quickly
Members of the parole panel must consider many parole-eligible offenders’ cases each year. They usually devote just a few minutes to each case.
For that reason, it’s important to consult with an experienced Texas parole lawyer to ensure that members of the parole panel have all the information they need to properly decide your case.
Focus on the Parole Decision, Not When the Decision Will Occur
It’s important to realize that the Texas Parole Board doesn’t have a definitive time table or deadline to grant or deny an offender’s parole.
Typically, the board makes one of two decision types:
- Parole revocation. If the offender has been accused of violating the terms and conditions of parole, he or she typically receives a decision between two – four weeks from the hearing date. If you’re facing revocation of parole, never waive your constitutional right to a hearing. Contact an experienced Texas parole lawyer immediately.
- Grant/deny parole. When possible, it’s important to prompt members of the parole panel to vote on the parole-eligible inmate’s case as close to his or her eligibility date as possible.
Generally speaking, the parole board votes on the inmate within two weeks’ of receiving the IPO’s file. Occasionally, a voting member may request a meeting with the offender. This request may delay the decision.
An experienced Texas parole lawyer may want to arrange a meeting between the lead voter and the parole-eligible inmate. A decision to grant or deny parole usually occurs within one – two weeks from that interview.
Of course, the above time lines are estimates. Members of the parole board may take any amount of time they believe is necessary to make a thoughtful decision.
It’s often difficult to predict the timeline for an offender sentenced to a short prison term. Much depends on the amount of time it takes for the offender to be processed and for the IPO to generate a report.
These factors may delay the disposition of the case.
Texas Parole Approval Votes
Members of the parole board may determine the offender is:
- FI-1 (the offender should be released on parole as soon as he or she is eligible)
- FI-2 (the offender should be released on parole at a specific future date)
- FI-3R (the offender should be transferred to a Texas Department of Criminal Justice rehab program, e.g. Change / LifeSkills, not earlier than a specific date and for a minimum of four months (he or she is to be released on parole upon completion of the rehab program)
- FI-4R (the offender must be transferred to a Sex Offender Education Program, or SOEP, not before a certain date or a minimum of four months, to be released on parole upon program completion)
- FI-5 (the offender must be transferred to an In-Prison Therapeutic Community Program, or IPTC, to be released thereafter to aftercare components
- FI-6 (the offender must be transferred to a DWO rehab program, to be released thereafter to an aftercare program)
- FI-6R (the offender must be transferred to a rehab program, e.g. the Pre-Release Therapeutic Community, or PRTC, or the Pre-Release Substance Abuse Program, or PRSAP, no sooner than six months, with the offender’s parole release on completion);
- FI-7R (the offender must be transferred to the Serious and Violent Offender Re-entry Initiative, or SVORI, no earlier than the noted date and a minimum of seven months, to be released on parole on completion)
- FI-9R (the offender must be transferred to the Sex Offender Treatment Program, or SOTP9, no sooner than the noted date, to be enrolled for a minimum of nine months, and to be released on parole at completion)
- FI-18R (the offender must be transferred to the Sex Offender Treatment Program, or SOTP-18), the Inner Change Freedom Initiative, or IFI, not before the noted date, to be enrolled a minimum of 18 months, to be released on parole at completion)
- CU-FI (denotes the date upon which the offender with consecutive sentences would’ve become parole-eligible for a single sentence)
- RMS (the offender should be released to mandatory supervision.
Texas Parole Denial Votes
Members of the Texas parole board may designate that the offender is denied parole with these denial votes: NR (next review–This is sometimes referred to as the inmate’s set-off. The parole board may indicate the next review will occur in as much as five years from the last review. Many set-offs occur in one year, but a longer set-off may occur in a more serious case.); or SA (Serve All—This denial vote doesn’t provide for a subsequent review. It requires the offender to fulfill his or her original sentence or to be considered at a later time for discretionary supervision (if he or she is eligible).
Contact an Experienced Texas Parole Lawyer
Understanding how the Texas Parole Board makes decisions can help the parole-eligible inmate to maximize his or her chances of being granted parole.
Greg Tsioros has built an in-depth understanding of Texas criminal laws and parole laws. He’s highly regarded for his negotiation and communication skills when advocating for his clients seeking parole. He is passionate about protecting his clients’ rights. He is also compassionate about his clients’ circumstances.
If you or a loved one is parole-eligible, you need a dedicated advocate in the Texas parole process. The Law Office of Greg Tsioros is dedicated to helping clients make their best cases to members of the parole panel.
Contact Mr. Tsioros in Houston at 832-752-5972 if you’re looking for a parole attorney who can make the difference.