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Tips for Making Parole in Texas

Parole Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

Tips for Making Parole in Texas

If you or someone you love is approaching parole eligibility, it’s possible to be granted parole the first time. There’s no magic formula. That said, an experienced Texas parole lawyer can better your chances of making first parole.

Understandably, it’s true that many offenders’ chances of being granted parole are relatively low for a first review. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles considers whether the amount of time he or she has served reflects the severity of the original offense and the offender’s criminal record. In this post, we discuss tips for making parole in Texas.

Are you or a loved one approaching parole eligibility?
Contact Texas parole attorney Greg Tsioros today for a consultation 

Definition and Reality of Parole in Texas

Parole involves an early release from prison, before an offender serves his or her full sentence. A parolee remains under community supervision for the remainder of the sentence and must comply with specific terms and conditions, often referred to as the conditions of parole.

An offender isn’t entitled to parole. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles must consider an array of factors before making the decision to grant any individual parole.

The federal system doesn’t grant parole in this fashion. For crimes committed after November 1, 1987, the prisoner earns good time credits for positive behavior in prison. These good time credits are used towards his or her early release.

A prisoner whose crime was committed before November 1, 1987 is still eligible for a parole hearing.

At the time the offender was sentenced, regardless of the date of the crime’s commission, judges may order supervised release for a prisoner.

Multiple Factors that Influence the Parole Board

As in most parole-related matters, no single answer about how to make parole on a first attempt can be generalized for each situation. Whether the inmate is granted first parole depends on multiple factors, such as 1) the original offense, 2) sentence length, 3) behavior since incarceration, 4) programs completed, and 5) support systems strength and parole plans.

Example 1: Let’s imagine an offender has previously failed his community supervision and is currently incarcerated for a violent crime. He was formerly a gang member. This offender is unlikely to make first parole.

Example 2: Now, let’s consider an offender with no prior criminal history. He committed a non-violent crime, has a strong network of friends and family, and effectively communicated to the members of the parole board that he has the tools in place to be successful if granted parole. This offender has a better chance of being granted first parole. He has engaged an experienced parole lawyer to assist him in the preparation of his parole packet. The attorney will then present all the reasons his clients should be granted parole.

Now, let’s review the factors to be considered by voters of the parole board in Texas:

#1: Offenses

During a parole review, voters consider the crime or crimes an individual has been imprisoned for. In some cases, an individual begins a prison sentence for a crime (or series of crimes) when he or she was on parole for a prior crime. In this scenario, the offender’s prior crimes will be scrutinized by the Commissioner or member of the parole board reviewing the file.

The review process may be complex if the reviewers are simultaneously considering multiple crimes.

#2: Prior Offenses

Some inmates are behind bars for one or multiple crimes. Past crimes, regardless of level, are included in his or her file with the Texas Board of Pardons & Paroles. Even a charge that was dropped—or didn’t result in a conviction—is contained in the file.

Without an experienced Texas parole lawyer involved in the parole review process, board members review the file “as is.” A cursory review of the inmate’s file can have a dampening effect on the parole board’s decision-making process.

#3: Case Facts and the Offender’s Criminal History

Certain crimes typically carry greater weight than the facts of the crime. The voter panel may need to 1) expend more time and effort to truly understand the facts of the crime and 2) Texas parole guidelines are considered on a formula, and this formula has no way of changing the score in consideration of certain facts.

When members of the parole board consider the offense severity rating of a certain crime, that number is, unfortunately, the same for every individual under the same offense title, even though a potentially infinite number of circumstances surrounding a particular criminal offense may exist.

#4: Offender’s Age

Statistically, younger persons commit a greater number and percentage of crimes than older individuals. Younger individuals on parole come back to prison with greater frequency than older persons granted parole.

In addition, a younger inmate is statistically more likely to get into trouble in prison.

For these reasons, the age of the offender matters. Scientific and sociological studies support this statement. Although an offender’s age can hurt his or her chances of parole in some cases, it may help others:

  • If the offender committed a crime at a relatively young age and has served 10 to 15 years, he or she may have gained maturity and wisdom.
  • A mature person understands that life is short and loathes the thought of wasting precious life behind bars.

A young offender may imprisonment as a hassle or inconvenience whereas the mature offender realizes that the sands of time continue in prison.

#5: Drug and Alcohol Involvement

Statistics show that as many as 70 percent of Texas offenders wouldn’t be in prison if not for drug and/or alcohol use. The parole board considers drugs and alcohol as a kind of double-edged sword:

  • If the offender used alcohol or drugs, it may offer a partial or plausible explanation for a senseless act in the past.
  • However, recidivism is a major factor to consider in the drug and alcohol abuser. If the offender begins using drugs and alcohol again, it could mean a future revocation of parole.

Former drug or alcohol abuse issues may help to improve the offender’s chances of making parole because his or her behavior can be attached to the poor choices of using these substances. Since members of the parole board will consider possible recidivism, it’s crucial to address and discuss the future parole plan with the voting panel.

#6: Conduct in Prison

This factor is considered by the parole board but may deserve more consideration in the offender’s case. The board considers the offender’s institutional adjustment to determine whether he or she followed the rules and stayed out of trouble. It’s also relevant to consider whether the offender obtained formal education, learned a trade, or expanded his or her mind through hard work and initiative.

#7: Life before Prison

Some offenders did truly commendable or special things in their lives before prison. It’s important to present these accomplishments to parole voters. Nearly everyone has performed some good in his or her life, and the board will consider these facts if they’re properly presented for their attention.

#8: Post-Prison Plan

Almost all inmates say they will never return to prison, but statistics show that almost 20 percent return to prison within a five-year period of leaving.

For that reason, the quality of the offender’s post-prison plan must demonstrate specific details based on sound logic to improve his or her chances of being granted parole.

Parole Considerations

Many offenders are serving long sentences that don’t appear justified by the case facts. An offender in this situation can benefit from a skillful Texas parole lawyer who will develop the underlying facts along with the mitigating circumstances to better his or her chances of being granted parole.

There’s truly no magic answer to questions about how any offender is more likely to make parole: the law, the title of the criminal offense, the facts of the crime, the offender’s life before and in prison, and his or her post-prison plan—and possibly other issues—must be presented to the voters of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.

An experienced Texas parole attorney searches for answers to these questions before the parole interview process. When properly prepared and presented, the board officials have a better idea of the parole-eligible individual, including what he or she did and didn’t do wrong and his or her version of the future.

Proper preparation of the parole packet is likely to make a significant difference, too. The offender must use every avenue to distinguish himself or herself from thousands of other inmates who are applying for parole at the same time.

Despite what we see in the movies, a Texas parole hearing doesn’t involve voting members visiting the prison, bringing the offender in, or discussing why he or she is a good candidate for parole. Voters rely solely on the offender’s file contents. For these reasons, the best way to improve the chance of making Texas parole is to prepare an effective parole packet to include:

  • Anything and everything to catch the voter’s eye, including the offender’s accomplishments (especially those in prison)
  • Completed education classes, certificates, and letters of support (especially from advocates in the community who will assist the offender is obeying the terms and conditions of community supervision)

Typical Terms & Conditions of Parole in Texas

Once granted parole, the parolee must meet regularly with an assigned community supervision-parole officer regarding a set of terms and conditions. Failure to meet as required may result in revocation of parole, which means the parole must return to prison.

In addition to meeting with the parole agent, commonly assigned terms and conditions include:

  • The parolee must obey the law. Breaking any law, even if the defendant isn’t convicted of it, may form the basis for revocation of parole.
  • The parolee must report his or her current location. He or she must call in or submit to wearing GPS or electronic monitor devices.
  • The parolee must obtain his or her agent’s permission to travel out of the community. Travel restrictions may apply to interstate and/or international travel.
  • The parolee must refrain from using or selling drugs or alcohol.
  • The parolee must submit to a random search of his or her home or person. A search doesn’t need to involve probable cause.
  • The parolee must avoid contacts with certain individuals, such as a victim, witness, co-defendant, or members of a gang.
  • The parolee must attend counseling and treatment programs ordered by the court, including required anger management counseling.
  • The parolee must pay fines and/or restitution ordered by the court.

Contact an Experienced Texas Parole Lawyer

If you or someone you love is eligible for parole, it’s important to reach out to a knowledgeable Texas parole attorney as soon as possible. You may have questions about denied parole or how to improve your chances of making parole.

Contact The Law Office of Greg Tsioros in Houston at 832-752-5972 to schedule an initial case evaluation now.

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