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What Crimes Are Eligible for Parole in Texas?

Parole Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

What Crimes Are Eligible for Parole in Texas?

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Not everyone will become eligible for parole once they are incarcerated. It depends on several factors, including what they are in prison for. The Correctional Institutions Divisions Records Office of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) calculates parole eligibility. The prisoner and the system must perform several steps before parole is awarded.

What is parole, and what crimes can make someone eligible or ineligible for parole in Texas? Here is an overview of the Texas parole system.

Defining Parole

Parole is basically getting out of prison early. The prisoner completes their sentence in the community under supervision instead of remaining incarcerated. The Pardons and Paroles Division of the TDCJ provides the supervision.

Parole guidelines include both static and dynamic factors, so parole calculations take several steps to complete. 

Static Factors:

  • Age at first admission to the juvenile or adult correctional facility
  • History of release revocations for felony offenses
  • Prior incarcerations
  • Employment history
  • Commitment offense

Dynamic Factors:

  • Offender’s current age
  • Whether the offender is a gang member
  • Educational or vocational attainment or certified on-the-job training programs completed
  • Prison disciplinary conduct
  • Current prison custody level

Prisoners are assigned points for each type of factor and assigned a risk level score. You can learn a specific offender’s parole eligibility date at the TDCJ Offender Search Link.

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Who Is Eligible?

The following inmates are not eligible for parole:

  • Prisoners with a death sentence
  • Prisoners with a sentence of life without parole
  • Prisoners convicted of continuous sexual abuse of a young child or children
  • Prisoners convicted of aggravated sexual assault with the Repeater or Habitual enhancement
  • Prisoners with a minimum sentence of 25 years for aggravated sexual assault

Most other prisoners are eligible, although there may be extenuating circumstances that prevent them from being paroled.

For an offender to become eligible for parole, they must serve a percentage of the sentence. How much of the sentence must be served depends on the nature of the offense and what the statute says. Generally, at least 25% of the sentence must be served to become eligible for parole.

Parole eligibility also hinges on good conduct time. Time served plus good conduct time adds up to parole eligibility.

The Board of Pardons and Paroles

The Board of Pardons and Paroles has seven members appointed by the Governor of Texas with the State Senate’s consent. The Board is supposed to be representative of the general public.

The Governor can remove a Board member anytime for any reason except for those appointed by a previous Governor. Members hold office for six-year staggered terms.

The Chair of the Board then appoints 14 parole commissioners who assist the Board in parole and parole revocation decisions. They receive training on the criminal justice system, particularly parole procedures.

The Pardons and Paroles Division

The PPD or Division investigates and supervises all releases on parole or mandatory supervision. They reintegrate felons into society after release from prison. Parole officers supervise offenders and make sure they follow all the rules of their release. Those supervising offenders identified as members of a prison or street gang receive specialized training.

The Division is responsible for notifying a list of people and departments when an inmate is paroled. The list includes Sheriffs, Chiefs of Police, Prosecuting Attorneys, and the District Judge in the county where the inmate was convicted and the county to which the inmate is released.

Parole Release Processes and Procedures

To be paroled, an inmate must be approved by the parole board and have served the requisite amount of their sentence. The panel also reviews the conditions of release the inmate is required to follow once they leave prison.

Parole Review

Each offender gets an annual parole review, although those can be delayed for up to five years by a parole panel vote if convicted of a crime under Texas Penal Code Section 508.149(a). If an inmate is not eligible for mandatory supervision due to a particular conviction, they are eligible for a multi-year review.

Review Process
  1. The PDD identifies inmates six months prior to the initial parole eligibility date or four months before subsequent annual review dates. The PDD directs a review of the case file.
  2. Notice is sent to trial officials, the victim(s), and the victims’ families.
  3. A parole officer interviews the inmate and prepares a parole case summary for the Parole Board.
  4. The file is sent to the designated office for review and vote. Members may request an interview with the inmate or those in support or protest of release at their own discretion.
  5. Parole members must grant an interview with a victim, guardian of a victim, or close relative of a deceased victim if requested, but only one person is chosen if multiple apply.
  6. The inmate is not notified of the panel’s decision.
Approval or Denial

The Board can approve parole with additional instructions if it wishes. The approvals range from releasing the offender when eligible (FI-1) to transferring the offender to a TDCJ rehabilitation program with release to parole only after completing the program.

Parole can be denied. A denial can hold the decision until the next review, and a date for the subsequent review is set. Or the Board can deny parole with no regular review. There are several other levels of denial the Board can give, including the instruction that the inmate must serve all of the current sentence in consecutive sentence cases.

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Can Parole Be Revoked?

Yes. Under certain circumstances, parole can be revoked, and the offender must return to prison. The PDD can issue a warrant of summons.

  • The person has been released when not eligible for parole.
  • The person has been arrested.
  • There is an authenticated document stating the person violated a condition of parole.
  • There is evidence the person has exhibited behavior during parole that indicates they pose a danger to society.

The warrant specifies that the offender must be returned to the institution they were paroled from. The summons requires the offender to appear for a hearing. If it seems the offender has violated a condition of parole, the issue date of the warrant through the date of the offender’s arrest will not count as time served under their sentence.

What to Do If You Are Eligible for Parole

If you have not been convicted of a crime that does not allow parole, you can work on shortening your time in prison through good conduct. You and your attorney can also work on creating a Parole Packet to show you are actively involved in the process. The Parole Board does not require a parole packet, but it can provide background and information about your plans once you are out of prison.

Contact Greg Tsioros for assistance and information on your eligibility for parole and to help you prepare for your review.

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