Texas Parole Answers (FAQ)
We’ve compiled a list of Texas Parole frequently asked questions (FAQ) to help you and your family. If you have a specific question about your case, please contact us for a free phone or email consultation. Our mission is to help you succeed, and that means providing you with straightforward answers.
Please remember that we are providing these free Texas Parole answers for informational purposes only. You should always seek professional legal counsel (from us or another attorney) before acting on this information. Please see our disclaimer for more information.
Texas Parole Answers
The laws governing parole eligibility and mandatory supervision are very complicated, even for those who deal with such matters on a daily basis. Because of the numerous changes in the law during the last two decades, there is still much confusion among attorneys as to which law is applicable to a particular inmate. Fortunately, there is a fast, easy way to determine this important issue: The law in effect on the date that the offense was committed governs an inmate’s eligibility for release on parole or to mandatory supervision. Moreover, the effective date of most statutory amendments is the last day of August or the first day of September after the respective legislative session.
The issue of applicable legislation affects not only an inmate’s initial parole eligibility, but also how his case is voted, and whether or not he might be required to serve his entire sentence day for day or is released on mandatory supervision. To illustrate this point, consider the following hypothetical: An inmate commits a crime involving the use of a deadly weapon, such as aggravated robbery, murder, aggravated assault, etc. If he committed this crime prior to September 1, 1987, he would be eligible for parole after serving one third of his sentence. Additionally, even if the inmate in this scenario was denied parole and given a serve all, he would still be released to mandatory supervision, once his flat-calendar-time plus good time equals his sentence.
Conversely, an inmate who commits the same crime prior to September 1, 1993 would be eligible for parole after serving one-fourth of his sentence. However, the same inmate would have to serve one-half of his sentence to be parole-eligible if his offense was committed on or after September 1, 1993.
For the vast majority of inmates, whose offenses are not listed in Texas Government Code, §508.149, parole eligibility is based upon the offender earning 25% of his time credits. Since most offenders will receive good time credits towards the eligibility date they will earn 25% of time credits well before they serve 25% of their actual time. Crimes of violence occurring on or after September 1, 1993 require offenders to serve 50% of their sentence without any credit for good time
Mandatory Supervision is the statutorily mandated release of an inmate when his calendar time served plus earned good time credits equals the inmate’s total sentence. For example: if an inmate had a five year sentence, after accumulating 60 months worth of time credits the decision to release the inmate to supervision would become mandatory by operation of law.
However, for those inmates whose offense was committed on or after September 1, 1996, release to Mandatory Supervision is no longer mandatory! Due to legislative changes to the statute, the Board must now review all Mandatory Supervision release cases, which has resulted in a very confusing oxymoronic term known as “discretionary-mandatory release”. Thus, if Board determines that release to Mandatory Supervision is not in the best interests of the public it may deny such release. As one appellate court justice recently observed, “only in Texas could a “mandatory release” become a “discretionary mandatory release”!” An inmate released to Mandatory Supervision is subject to the same terms and conditions as an inmate released to Parole.
Just because an inmate is released from prison on parole or mandatory supervision does not mean that he or she is home free. In fact, he is still serving his sentence while on parole albeit in a less restrictive manner. Failure of parolees to remain cognizant of this fact can quickly result revocation of parole or mandatory/discretionary supervision and/or re-incarceration in TDCJ or some lesser sanction, such as compulsory substance abuse treatment or ISF (Intermediate Sanction Facility).
Parole revocations can occur for a variety of reasons, such as failure to comply with stipulations and conditions of release, re-arrest (even when the charges are dismissed or the inmate is ultimately acquitted), or even something as tenuous as an unsubstantiated allegation that the inmate has violated a terms of condition of release.
A parole revocation hearing must be held not later than the 41st day after the date of arrest on the blue warrant, unless the person is subject to pending criminal charges that have not been adjudicated, or he has been transferred from a county jail to a community residential facility, or he is in custody in another state or federal correctional facility.
Depending on the nature of the allegations of violation, an individual may be entitled to a Preliminary Hearing as well as a final Revocation Hearing. The Preliminary Hearing establishes whether or not probable cause exists to believe that the person violated at least one of the conditions of release. If probable cause is established, a Revocation Hearing will be held to determine whether or not the allegations can be proved by a preponderance of credible evidence. Each of the hearings consists of a fact-finding phase and an adjustment phase. The purpose of the adjustment phase is to determine how well the individual has done since his release to supervision and to determine the seriousness of the violation in the overall context of the person’s adjustment to society.
Parolees are entitled to written notice of the allegations of violation and are entitled to disclosure of the evidence against them. They have a right to be represented by counsel and a right to confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses. They are also entitled to request that subpoenas be issued to secure the attendance of either adverse or friendly witnesses.
Upon finding that the inmate violated at least one of the terms or conditions of supervision, the Board may:
1. Withdraw the violation warrant and continue the person on supervision under the same or modified conditions of release;
2. Order that the inmate be continued on supervision after spending a period of time in an Intermediate Sanctions Facility; or
3. Revoke the inmate’s parole and return him to TDCJ. If parole is revoked, the person returns to prison with calendar time credits only unless he is not currently serving or been convicted of an aggravated offense in the past AND he managed to successfully complete more than fifty percent of the balance of his sentence prior to the issuance of the blue warrant
Legal representation is not required and most offenders go through the parole review system without the assistance of legal counsel. Moreover, state statutes require that only attorneys licensed in Texas can represent an offender before the Texas Parole Board. Conversely, non-attorneys who offer parole packet services cannot appear before the Board. Although many attorneys are starting to accept parole cases, there are presently only a handful of attorneys who practice in this area on a day-to-day basis and who therefore understand the ins and outs of the system. Please read more about Hooper Law Firm’s Parole Services to learn about the advantages of hiring an attorney.
In deciding which offenders will be released to supervision, the Texas Parole Board has a great deal of latitude and is free to consider a wide range of factors. Perhaps one of the most frustrating things for many inmates and their families to come to terms with is the fact that the Board is not limited to the facts underlying the inmate’s present offense of conviction. Rather, it may take into consideration any and all information it deems relevant; such as any charges that were dismissed as part of a plea bargain; prior criminal history including juvenile records (although these records are often sealed to the general public, they are available to the Board); and previous unsuccessfully completed parole or probation. The Board may also take into account how the inmate’s institutional adjustment, whether he has participated in available programs, etc. Finally, it may consider family support and the opportunity for gainful employment upon release. It should be noted that this list is not exhaustive, but is provided to illustrate the variety of factors the Board may take into consideration when reviewing an inmate’s file for parole.
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