Criminal Law

How To Prepare for a Parole Board Hearing

If you are looking for how to prepare for a parole board hearing, you already know how much is at stake. If you are granted parole, it means release from prison. If they say no, it may mean spending more time behind bars. Here is some information to help you or a loved one prepare for your hearing.

Prepare for Parole

The goal of your hearing is to convince the parole board that it is in everyone's interest to let you out of prison. You will still have to follow a certain set of rules for a period of time. A parole violation could mean going back to prison to serve out some or all of the remainder of your sentence.

Some of the factors that determine whether you are granted parole out of your control, but your behavior during imprisonment can make a big difference in your hearing. The factors that may affect your eligibility include:

  • Completing the minimum sentence for the offense
  • Avoiding any major disciplinary actions while in prison
  • Participating in prerelease training or counseling
  • Getting an education while in jail
  • Undergoing a mental health evaluation
  • Having letters and witnesses speaking in support of your request

This process of proving yourself worth of parole starts from the day you enter prison. Doing everything you can to show that you are making the most of your time and are committed to being a productive member of society is essential for a parole hearing.

The Parole Hearing Process

When you are eligible for parole is based on several factors, some of which include the type of offense, whether there is crowding at the prison, and changes in the law. Generally, a case manager will notify you when you are eligible and the date of your parole hearing. This may happen shortly after imprisonment or a few months before you hit the minimum sentence length.

Before the hearing, a parole examiner will generally prepare a recommendation to the board. This includes a case summary and evaluation of your suitability for release, based on several factors, including:

  • Whether you are likely to offend again
  • The efforts you made at rehabilitation
  • The impact you will have on the community
  • Other aggravating and mitigating factors (such as your disciplinary record in prison)
  • Your health
  • The opinions of any victims

During the hearing, you will have the chance to tell your side of the story and express why you think you deserve parole. The parole board may question you based on the details of your offense, your prior criminal history, whether you are remorseful, the release plan (including how you plan to secure employment), and any problems you may face in the future.

You will likely be able to have an attorney present at your parole hearing, and they will be able to work with you ahead of time on preparing for questions and gathering letters and speakers to support you. Work with an attorney who has experience in parole hearings and knows what makes a successful applicant.

Who Is on the Board?

The parole board is made up of a panel of people who will determine whether to set you free. These boards are different in each state, but they are generally made up of individuals with a background in criminal justice, psychology, law enforcement, or government. These members will be looking for clues in your answers that demonstrate you are worthy of freedom and that you no longer pose a danger to the community.

Can I Appeal a Parole Board's Ruling?

If the board denies parole, you may be able to appeal the decision. There is generally a limited amount of time to appeal a parole denial, so talk to your attorney for help to make sure that you meet any deadlines. Appealing a parole denial can be more difficult than the initial hearing, but it could result in a new hearing or reversal of the decision. Your attorney will talk over your options with you.

What Happens When You Are Granted Parole?

Parole is supervised release from incarceration. Parole helps offenders reintegrate into society and prevents unnecessary imprisonment.

Parole is not the same as the end of a prison sentence, because you can still get sent back to jail at any time. Like probation, you have to follow a number of rules in order to stay in the community, but you are still in the criminal justice system. The restrictions of your parole that you will have to comply with may include:

  • Making regular check-ins with a parole officer
  • Submitting to drug testing
  • Wearing an ankle monitor
  • Following a curfew
  • Getting a job
  • Attending counseling
  • Complying with travel restrictions
  • Consenting to searches

If you miss a visit with your PO or violate a term of parole, you could go back to jail. After a parole violation, it will be much more difficult to be granted parole again. The goal of parole is to get out of jail and stay out. If you have any questions about parole boards, talk to your lawyer for legal advice.

Work With a Lawyer for Your Hearing

Your state may not allow the right to an attorney at your hearing, but you can work with your lawyer ahead of time to prepare for your hearing. Contact an experienced lawyer after your sentencing to help you prepare for a parole hearing. An attorney can also help you file an appeal if the board denies your request.