What are the first steps of the parole hearing process?
An offender admitted to the Department of Correction, for a sentenced period of more than 2 years, is required to participate in the Parole Orientation Program. Shortly after sentencing, the offender will meet with members of DOC, in conjunction with a member from the Board of Pardons and Paroles (BOPP). The BOPP staff member will explain the parole eligibility designation and the DOC staff members will develop an Offender Accountability Plan (OAP) for the period of incarceration. This plan will outline what Parole staff expects of the offender and explain on what basis the BOPP will make future release decisions.
Additionally, DOC staff will determine whether modifications should be made to the plan prior to a BOPP decision regarding release suitability. It is in the offender’s best interest to comply with the OAP and participate in the recommended programs as they are available in the institution.
What happens at the parole eligibility date?
At the time of eligibility, an Institutional Parole Officer will work on completing the parole file. Several documents will need to be signed in order to complete the parole application. These documents are necessary in order to process the case. Consideration for parole can also be “waived.” Choosing this option will close the case, and the offender will be allowed to discharge directly from a DOC facility at the completion of the sentence. The Parole Officer assigned to the case will complete several steps before finalizing the package. One of these steps is an interview with the offender at the facility. This interview will be part of the parole package that is submitted to the BOPP for the hearing. The offender will be asked questions regarding criminal history, employment, education and plans if released. Once the package is complete, which may be after the initially scheduled hearing, the case will be placed on the first available Parole Hearing Docket and the offender will appear before a panel of hte Board for possible release. Please remember that parole is a privilege and not a right. It is the sole decision of the BOPP panel as to whether they will release the offender to parole or not. Some cases may be denied with no further consideration. Others may be denied with a new hearing date set for the future. For those who are voted to parole, conditions will be set and a date given for release. It should be noted that voted to parole dates are simply “on or after” dates, not the exact date for release.
When will parole hearings be scheduled?
It is the current practice of the BOPP to hold hearings for eligible offenders approximately six months prior to their eligibility date. This allows the Parole Officers sufficient time to process the necessary paperwork, review the case and compile it for Board review. This also gives the DOC an opportunity to review the case for custody reductions or halfway house placement. It is important to understand that the case will be scheduled for a hearing at the appropriate time, but may be continued for various reasons (i.e. evaluation needed, required outside information, transfer to another facility, etc.) The BOPP will do everything in its power to ensure that the case is heard in a timely manner.
What can the offender do to help prepare for the parole hearing?
The Board expects every parole eligible inmate to utilize and take advantage of the various rehabilitative programs, treatment programs and educational and vocational opportunities available while incarcerated. The Board also looks favorably upon those inmates who conduct themselves in a manner that keeps them free of disciplinary action throughout their incarceration. The offenders are expected to be active in all the programs that are recommended in the OAP. Fulfillment of the Accountability Plan will be vital to release consideration. At the time the case is reviewed, the inmate should be cooperative with the Institutional Parole Officer. It is imperative that the offender be honest and forthright in the interview. Individual responsibility is the key to success. Parole Intake & Assessment and the Offender Accountability Plan, are tools to use towards successful reintegration into the community.
Who can attend the parole hearing?
Simply stated, parole hearings are open to the public. However, the only individuals allowed to speak at the hearing are the Parole Officer, the panel members, the inmate and any victims of the crime(s). Section 54-126(a) of the Connecticut General Statutes authorizes victims to appear and testify at parole hearings. Victims may also enter testimony to be read by a representative of the Office of Victim Services. Again, while family members may attend the hearing, they will not be afforded the opportunity to speak, only to observe. As the hearing date approaches, the family can call the BOPP or go to our website to learn more about the date and location of your hearing.
Can parole be denied?
YES. Offenders denied parole are provided with reasons verbally, as well as in writing. Reasons typically involve the seriousness of the offenses, the nature and extent of criminal histories, impact on the victim or on survivors of the victims, or poor performance on previous periods of probation or parole, as well as poor institutional behavior or failure to participate in meaningful treatment of educational programs while incarcerated.
Parole was denied with no new Hearing, why?
As stated previously, parole is a privilege, not a right. Regarding the denial, the BOPP panel will provide reasons for their decision at the hearing. Please remember that the panel heavily weighs the probability of an offender living and remaining at liberty without violating the law, in addition to any possible benefits to the community due to a potential release.
Please note that you will also receive a letter from your facility Parole Officer outlining the panel’s decision. All decisions are final.
Parole was denied and a new hearing date was given, what next?
Since parole was denied, but another chance was given, it is very important that the inmate make the best of his/her time while awaiting the next hearing. As always, the offender should remain disciplinary report-free and request and or continue with any DOC programming that you can. The inmate should follow the OAP and the counselor’s suggestions while patiently awaiting the new hearing. The BOPP panel will have provided reasons for the denial along with recommendations to follow before the next hearing. The inmate should abide by these recommendations in hopes that a positive effort illustrates determination and dedication to bettering oneself and the chances for parole. When the new date approaches, a hearing will be scheduled just as before. If the hearing needs to be continued for any reason, such as an evaluation needed, required outside information, transfer to another facility, etc., it will be rescheduled once all pertinent information is received. In any instance, the inmate will be notified of the new hearing date.
If parole is denied can a new hearing be requested?
Parole decisions are rarely reconsidered. However, they may be reconsidered when extenuating circumstances arise, such as: Substantial deterioration of physical health;
Significant adjustment of sentence resulting from either a Sentence Modification or Pardon Board action; or new information, of compelling nature, not previously available to the Board. If any of these situations apply, the offender would need to write to the facility Parole Officer and inform them of the change.
What happens after a parole date is granted?
The panel of the Board will set a “voted to parole” date, which may be the parole eligibility date or any date thereafter, whichever the panel determines to be appropriate. All inmates that have been granted parole are required to agree to abide by such terms and conditions that may be imposed. The voted to parole date is an “on or after date,” meaning that the date given is the first possible day that the inmate can be released to parole. However, in many cases, the offender may not be released until after the date has passed. This is due to the many different factors that must all come together and coordinate for a release. As the voted to parole date nears, a member of the Parole & Community Services field office will contact the inmate as well as the inmate’s sponsor to arrange for pick up or transportation. Please note that it is not necessary to contact the facility Parole Officer once a voted to parole date has been given, unless there is a change in sponsor. Submitting this new information in writing to the facility Parole Officer will ensure that the new information is made available to Parole & Community Services staff.
Can a parole date be changed or taken away?
Prior to release, the Board retains the authority to rescind (take away) or modify a previously granted parole in the event of new information or behavior resulting in DOC disciplinary action or new criminal charges. It is important for an offender to remain patient and to continue to be a model inmate while awaiting release to parole. If the inmate’s behavior changes after being voted to Parole, the Parole Board has the power to change their decision accordingly. In the event that an offender is unsuccessfully discharged from programming, returned from a halfway house, or exhibits disciplinary problems by receiving disciplinary reports, the case is subject to review and possible rescission. The Board will review the case in order to determine whether the offender is still suitable for release. Possible results from these actions and subsequent case review are: 1) The release date may be changed (offset); 2) conditions may be added; and 3) in some cases, Parole can be rescinded and the inmate not released. In any event, it remains in the offender’s best interest to adhere to Department of Correction rules and remain disciplinary report free.
What is a parole agreement?
Connecticut General Statutes authorize the Board to establish terms, rules and conditions of parole. Conditions are established both by policy (standard conditions) and on an individual basis (special conditions). They are intended to provide guidance to parolees as to acceptable standards of conduct and to assist them in addressing treatment needs. The enforcement of these conditions is a fundamental responsibility of the parole officer, thus assisting the Board in achieving its goal of managing risk, while maximizing the potential for parolees to live productive, crime-free lives.
What happens if parole conditions are violated?
Enforcing the Conditions of Parole, as stated previously, is a fundamental responsibility of the parole officer. Matching the appropriate response to violation behavior is an important decision. It balances the desire to intervene in an offender’s life in ways that truly affect future criminality, with the agency’s primary responsibility of protecting the public by appropriately managing the risk of those who fail to comply with Parole Conditions.
Types of violations include:
- Criminal - any activity resulting in arrest for violation of any criminal law;
- Technical - any behavior of a non-criminal nature that violated other Conditions of Parole
- Absconding - the failure of parolees to maintain contact with the parole system.
All pertinent information regarding the violation, along with relevant offender characteristics, are reviewed by the parole officer and supervisor in determining the appropriate response. The review includes, but is not limited to:
- Length and time of criminal history;
- Length of time on parole;
- Residence and employment stability;
- Previous violation behavior;
- Adherence to contact schedule and compliance with special conditions; and
- Substance abuse history.
If it is determined as a result of the case review that the offender should be returned to custody, Department of Correction Parole and Community Services Division staff will remand the offender to custody and submit a parole violation report to the Board. This report serves as a Warrant application and initiates the parole revocation process.
What is a parole revocation?
Any parolee held in custody as an alleged parole violator, upon finding of probable cause, will receive a Final Revocation Hearing. A Hearing Examiner will present both their findings and their recommendations to a panel of the Board who will determine an appropriate disposition. The offender will be given written notice of the date and location of the Preliminary Hearing, as well as the charges against him and the evidence supporting such charges. He/she shall also be advised of the right:
- To assistance of Counsel;
- To appear and speak at a hearing, and to present witnesses and documentary evidence; and
- To confront and question witnesses giving evidence against him/her, unless good cause exists for disallowing such confrontation.
During the final Revocation Hearing, the panel may order:
- That the parolee be returned to parole status;
- That the parole be revoked, but the parolee be re-paroled at a later date or considered for re-parole at a later date; or
- That parole be revoked and the parolee be recommitted to the custody of the Commissioner of Correction for a period of time equal to the unexpired portion of the sentence, except that the panel may order the forfeiture of any or all previously earned good time. Good time forfeiture is an option only on sentences for which the maximum term is reduced by applicable good time provisions (crimes committed pre-1994).
Any parolee who does not wish to appear at or to give testimony during a hearing will be made aware that action will be taken in the absence of his/her participation.