Parole Representation and Application
Experienced Parole Representation and Assistance Across the State of Texas
In the state of Texas, some people who have been sentenced to incarceration in prison may be granted parole. Although parole does not technically reduce the time that a person must serve as part of their sentence, it can decrease the amount of time that they must spend in a prison facility.
What Is Parole?
Parole is a process that allows certain people who have been convicted of crimes to leave prison before their total sentence of incarceration has been completed. While a person is on parole, they are still considered to be under the terms of their sentence. This means that they must perform certain actions, such as community service or regular meetings, in order to maintain their parole status. However, they are allowed to do these things while living outside of prison.
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How Does Parole Work?
Parole is granted on a case-by-case basis. In order to be granted parole, a person must meet two conditions:
- Their parole must be approved by the parole board
- They must have served a predetermined portion of their sentence in prison
In typical felony cases, a person will be eligible for parole after serving one-quarter of their sentence. So, for example, a person sentenced to four years in prison would have to serve one year in prison before becoming eligible for parole.
In some cases, a person who is serving time in Texas prison can be granted “good conduct time.” For example, an inmate who follows the rules and stays out of trouble may accumulate good conduct days. If the inmate’s time in prison and good conduct time equal their total original sentence, they may be granted a parole hearing earlier than they would otherwise. However, good conduct time is not guaranteed and some serious offenses rule out good conduct time completely.
Eligibility and the Application Process
Most prisoners who are incarcerated in Texas prisons will become eligible for parole after serving a predetermined portion of their sentence. When a person is placed in Texas prison, they are assigned a parole eligibility date.
Some convictions offer no possibility of parole. For example, parole may not be granted to people who are convicted of first-degree felonies, such as:
For some serious crimes, inmates must serve one-half of their sentence before becoming eligible for parole. This may or may not include the use of good conduct time.
Six months before an inmate becomes eligible for parole for the first time, the Pardons and Parole Division will mark their case for review. At this time, many things begin to take place:
- The offender is notified of their upcoming parole review
- The offender’s file will be sent to the parole board and the offender will be interviewed
- Any victims of the offender’s crimes will be notified and allowed to submit statements to the board
The parole board will consider many things when they review an offender’s case file. They can consider:
- The initial offense
- The offender’s behavior in prison
- The offender’s criminal history and job history
- The offender’s level of family and community support
- The offender’s age and background
Once they have reached a decision, the three members of the parole review will vote on the issue. A majority decision of at least 2 out of 3 is necessary to reach a “yes” or “no” decision.
As soon as a person is notified that they parole date is upcoming, they are allowed to consult with an attorney to help them with their case. They can actually begin work on their case before this time. An attorney may be able to help them make a good case to the parole board.
How Can an Attorney Help?
Attorneys know what parole boards are looking for when they are reviewing a parole decision.
They know that the board wants to find out if the offender is more likely to re-integrate into society or if they are more likely to commit another offense. Offenders with job skills, strong family support and good behavior are more likely to appear as if they are ready to re-enter society.
For this reason, an attorney may do several things to convince the parole board, including:
- Providing statements from previous employers showcasing an offender’s useful skills
- Providing statements from family members pledging their support for the offender’s well-being
- Providing statements from doctors and psychologists stating that the offender is ready to enter society peacefully
- Records of the offender’s good behavior while incarcerated
While these things cannot guarantee that parole will be granted, they can definitely improve an offender’s chances of a good outcome. An attorney may be able to help an offender present a case which shows that they are a good candidate for release on parole.