Submitting Applications for Board of Parole Release
An incarcerated individual does not have to file an application for parole consideration. An Offender Rehabilitation Coordinator (ORC) or Supervising Rehabilitation Coordinator (SORC) will schedule an interview with the individual approximately four months prior to the incarcerated individual's earliest release eligibility date.
There is no application requirement for parole consideration. Interviews before a panel of the Board of Parole (Board) are scheduled based on the incarcerated individual's earliest release date.
Preparing for Release
Approximately four months prior to the scheduled Board appearance/review, ORCs/SORCs will interview individuals to prepare the “Parole Board Report” for the appearance or case review before a panel of the Board.
This report will include a description of the individual's involvement in the instant offense, legal history, and a description of the individual's overall institutional adjustment and program participation. Incarcerated individuals may wish to bring copies of any program certificates of completion to the interview. They may seek the guidance of the ORC/SORC in preparing for their Board appearance, as well as assistance regarding the interview and release processes.
Individuals should be prepared to discuss their involvement in the instant offense and to answer questions about their prior criminal activity, custodial record, program participation, future goals, and release plans.
Initial Board Appearances
Individuals are scheduled for an Initial Board appearance approximately four months prior to the expiration of their court-imposed minimum, also known as the parole eligibility date (PED).
For mixed cases (indeterminate and determinate sentences), the parole eligibility date is also the conditional release (CR) date. However, in such cases, the Board has discretionary authority to grant release. If the Board grants release, this is known as an “open date.” This date is contingent upon the individual receiving an approved residence in accordance with established residency restrictions and local laws. The open date may not be established in advance of the parole eligibility date (PED) unless the individual has received a Merit certificate and has also been approved for Merit release by the Board.
Discretionary parole interviews are conducted by a panel of two or three members of the Board. Facility staff, including an ORC/SORC and a stenographer, are also present for the interview by the panel. The stenographer will record what is said during the interview and incarcerated individuals may later request a copy of the transcript.
Counsel may not be present during discretionary release interviews.
Letters in Support
All letters of support should be sent to the ORC at the correctional facility in which the individual is confined. Additionally, any written statement the individual wishes to make should be submitted to the ORC in advance of their Board interview. Letters and documents received by ORC will be placed in the case folder and provided to the Board at the time of appearance. In addition, letters in support or opposition can be submitted online.
Letters should not be sent directly to the Board.
The folders are maintained at the facility and it is important that any documents submitted on behalf of an incarcerated individual be directed to the attention of the SORC. Sending materials to the SORC is the best way to ensure that all letters, documents, and statements will be placed in the case folder for the Board's review.
Letters should be addressed to:
Correctional Facility Name
Supervising Offender Rehabilitation Coordinator (SORC)
Correctional Facility Mailing Address
ORCs are responsible for making case-specific program and treatment recommendations, identifying special needs, referring incarcerated individuals to community-based services, and initiating the community preparation investigation process. ORCs, POs, and Re-Entry Services staff work together to develop an appropriate supervision plan that targets special needs and confirms the availability of community-based resources.
ORCs also provide assistance and support with applications for public benefits and emergency assistance. Applications for public benefits must be supported by medical evidence and/or appropriate documentation of a disability, impairment, or qualifying condition or illness. It is important that incarcerated individuals fully participate in the development of the release plan so that their transition from prison to the community is seamless and consistent with the requirements of release.
The Parole Board Report reflects the following information:
- Crimes of conviction and sentence (criminal history)
- Description of the present offense and prior legal history
- Personal characteristics: identification information
- An incarcerated individual's statement: comments and attitude regarding the offense, which resulted in the conviction or adjudication, as well as statements regarding the legal history
- Institutional adjustment information: a summary of program and treatment participation, as well as disciplinary history
- Release plan: Place of residence, employment, educational and treatment plans upon release
Risk and Needs Assessment
Indeterminately sentenced individuals undergo a risk and needs assessment prior to the interview before a panel of the Board and determinately sentenced individuals also undergo a risk and needs assessment prior to the case review by a panel of the Board.
The “Re-Entry” risk and needs assessment is completed at approximately the same time the incarcerated individual participates in the pre-Board interview with the ORC or SORC. The risk and needs assessment instrument utilized by DOCCS is used to support the re-entry process and decision making regarding the supervision level, treatment and program participation, and case-specific interventions. The risk and needs assessment is particularly important to the development of the supervision plan.
Following release, parolees are subject to reassessments performed by the PO and the risk and needs information is used to guide and modify, as necessary, the case supervision plan throughout the period of community supervision.
Input into Decisions
It has always been the policy of the Board to consider any statement made by a victim or representative of the victim as part of the parole release decision-making process. In fact, legislation adopted in 1985 mandated that victim impact statements be considered by the Board.
Victims and/or survivors of certain violent crimes may make requests in accordance with the Board procedures for the purpose of personally submitting their victim impact statements to a member of the Board. The personal meeting provides a setting that permits confidentiality in a suitable environment. A transcript of this meeting is then provided to the panel making the release determination.
In lieu of meeting with a Board member, victims or representatives are also allowed to submit their sentiments regarding the release of an incarcerated individual by written statement, audiotape or videotape. Any and all information submitted or provided by a victim is always afforded the utmost confidentiality.
New York State Criminal Procedure Law §440.50 provides that upon the request of the victim of a crime that is defined in Section 70.02 of the Penal Law as a violent felony offense or a felony defined in Article 125 of the Penal Law, the victim may submit a written, audio-taped, or videotaped victim impact statement to the Board.
The victim also has the right to meet personally with a member of the Board to provide a victim impact statement prior to each parole release interview between the members of the Board and the incarcerated individual. Criminal Procedure Law §380.50(4)(5) provides that a crime victim may submit a written application to be informed of an individual's parole, conditional release, release to post-release supervision, or transfer of custody to the Office of Mental Health pursuant to Article 10 of the Mental Hygiene Law.
The victim will also be informed of any discharge, parole, conditional release, release to a period of post-release supervision, or release from an Office of Mental Health facility under Article 10 of the Mental Hygiene Law.
Notification of Decisions
A written notification of the release decision will be given to the incarcerated individual within two weeks of completion of the interview before a panel of the Board. If approved for release, the Board Release Decision Notice will identify the release date and the conditions of supervision. If denied release, this form will detail the reasons for the denial and the form will also note the next available date of eligibility for discretionary release consideration.
When Release is Granted
If granted discretionary release, the Board will establish an “open date” and the proposed residence, employment program, and any other community-based programs will be subject to investigation by the assigned PO working in collaboration with the ORC/SORC.
Open Dates and Release
An “open date” is a parole status granted by the Board. To receive an open date, individuals must be serving an indeterminate sentence. In order to be released to community supervision, DOCCS must verify that the individual has a suitable place to live and employment or other appropriate means of financial support.
Incarcerated individuals are encouraged to participate in the development of the supervision plan and it is important that they fully understand the requirements of supervision and that they are fully aware of the need to comply with the conditions of release as established by the Board and their PO.
An open date is the earliest possible release date. The approval occurs after the PO has completed an investigation of the release program and submitted the results of the community preparation investigation to the SPO and the Bureau Chief (BC). The assigned field team must approve the release program (supervision plan) before an incarcerated individual can be released.
The ORC will process the release upon being notified of the approved supervision plan. The supervision plan typically consists of the residence verification, employment confirmation or reasonable assurance of employment, educational or vocational training program, chemical dependence treatment, or other case-specific treatment need.
If denied release following the Board interview, individuals will receive a copy of the Parole Board Decision Notice that will contain the reasons for the denial. The Board will set a date for the reappearance. The reappearance date cannot exceed 24 months from the date of the current appearance. The incarcerated individual may submit an administrative appeal from the Board's decision. The ORC can assist with information regarding the appeal process and requirements related to the submission of the appropriate documentation.
Where a parolee will live, work or go to school is extremely important. It is essential that they take an active role in the development of their release/supervision plan. Prior to their scheduled release date, they will be asked to provide DOCCS staff with information about where they plan to live and work in the community. This is an important matter that incarcerated individuals should be planning for long before the anticipated release date.
The information provided by the incarcerated individual will be given to a PO who will investigate the proposed residence or housing program, employment, vocational or educational programs, and treatment programs. If the release plans change or require modification, the incarcerated individual must immediately contact the ORC. If they are having difficulty with identifying a potential residence or is in need of emergency housing assistance upon release, the ORC and PO can assist the incarcerated individual by developing a housing plan that may include temporary placement in a shelter, halfway house, or a transitional residential facility.
Looking for Employment While Incarcerated
An important part of the supervision plan is employment. Independently, incarcerated individuals should do the following:
- Contact former and prospective employers
- Ask for help from relatives and friends
- Contact ex-offender resource groups
- Write letters to businesses and other organizations where they plan to live
- Utilize all pre-release resources and information available at the correctional facility
Assisting Parolees Find Programs
The Department supports the successful completion of community and or post-release supervision to include:
- no new arrests
- no rule violations
- no behavior that would compromise community safety
- no behavior that would compromise the safety of the individual under supervision
DOCCS promotes the utilization of recommended programs and services to assist an individual to become self-sufficient, responsible, and independent. Individuals under community supervision may be required to attend a treatment program or participate in other targeted services as a condition of community supervision or period of post-release supervision.
They may require assistance to break the cycle of addiction by addressing a history of chemical dependence. Referral services may also include assistance with managing anger, attending vocational training and educational opportunities, obtaining employment, managing personal finances, or paying child support, restitution and other mandated fees.
DOCCS’ Re-Entry Operations Unit (REO) provides assistance with securing services in collaboration with the assigned Parole Officer. REO is comprised of Re-Entry Managers and Assistant Re-Entry Managers within each of the seven regions of NYS. REOs works in collaboration with DOCCS facility and field staff to build partnerships with service providers and local government entities and works closely with county governments throughout the state to facilitate access to housing, benefits and supportive services.
REO develops additional referral sources for housing, substance abuse prevention services, anger management, domestic violence and mental health counseling, medical services, mentoring, employment and a host of other services needed by the formally incarcerated.
REO assists POs in the placement of those individuals with specialized needs, ranging from serious medical illnesses to mental health concerns. We develop housing resources in the community, coordinate specialized services for parolees with unique needs and makes referrals to community based organizations that have the ability to provide stabilization to returning citizens, who require guidance and support.
Conditions of Community and Post-Release Supervision
Parolees may be required to attend a treatment program or participate in other targeted services as a condition of community supervision or period of post-release supervision. The Department's Re-entry Services Unit provides assistance with securing such services, and the PO can also help the parolee access these types of services in the community.
If the Board believes that discretionary release is appropriate, an incarcerated individual will receive an “open date” decision. The jurisdiction responsible for issuing the warrant will be notified that the individual is scheduled for release, and arrangements will be made so that the warrant may be enforced once released. If the warrant is recalled or if the charges are dismissed, the individual would be released to the community as soon as their release program (supervision plan) is approved. If the warrant or commitment detainer is eventually vacated, removed or lifted for any reason, the parolee is expected to report to their assigned PO and remain under the supervision of DOCCS until the expiration of their sentence or period of post-release supervision.
The Commissioner of the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, or designee, may issue a Certificate of Earned Eligibility to an incarcerated individual who has shown progress in an assigned institutional program. The Board will review this as part of the institutional record. The possession of an Earned Eligibility Certificate is viewed as a positive factor in release consideration.
Once granted a release date and in community preparation status (having been granted a release date, but prior to actual release), the ORC and other DOCCS staff, if necessary, must review any serious violation of facility rules including escape or absconding from a temporary release program or change in their mental condition that would indicate their release at the present time would not be in their best interest or that of society's.
The ORC and other DOCCS staff, if necessary, must also review any new information not available to the Board at the time of the interview. After completing an investigation, the SORC may issue a temporary suspension of an incarcerated individual's parole release date. If a temporary suspension is issued, the SORC and ORC will forward a report to the Board. A Board member will then review the report and decide whether or not a rescission hearing should be conducted by the Board to reconsider the earlier Board decision.
If a rescission hearing is ordered, the individual will be provided with a written notice of the alleged violations of behavior or changes in status in advance of the hearing.
At the hearing, evidence will be presented by the SORC or ORC and the incarcerated individual will have an opportunity to present witnesses and the documentary evidence, as well as confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses.
Although there is no provision for court-appointed counsel at this time, incarcerated individuals have a right to retain counsel to represent them at the hearing at their own cost. The burden of proof at such a hearing is upon DOCCS.
The Board will prepare a written decision that either rescinds the release decision or restores the release date previously granted. If the release date is rescinded, the Board decision will indicate the evidence relied upon, the reasons for rescission and a reappearance date will be established.