Preparing for Parole
The Board of Parole (Board) is an independent body and sole entity that considers and determines parole eligibility, sets conditions of release, and revokes parole when conditions are violated.
Incarcerated individuals may seek the guidance of the Offender Rehabilitation Coordinator (ORC) and/or Supervising Offender Rehabilitation Coordinator (SORC) in preparing for their Board interview and may also seek assistance regarding the interview and release processes. They 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.
Approximately four months prior to the scheduled Board interview, the ORC or Senior ORC interviews the individual to prepare the Parole Board Report that will be reviewed by the Board panel.
The Parole Board Report
The Parole Board Report includes:
- Crimes of conviction and sentence (criminal history).
- Description of the present offense and prior legal history.
- Personal characteristics: identification information.
- Statement by the incarcerated individual, including comments and attitude regarding the offense that 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 plans, place of residence, employment, educational and treatment plans upon release.
Individuals may prepare a Parole Release Plan for the Board to review at the time of the interview, which should be submitted to the SORC or ORC prior to the week of the interview.
Initial Parole Board Appearance
Incarcerated individuals are scheduled for an initial Board interview about four months before 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.
Discretionary parole interviews are conducted by panels of two or three Board members. Facility staff, including an ORC/SORC and a stenographer are also present. A copy of the transcript may be requested.
Counsel may not be present during discretionary release interviews.
Board members follow statutory requirements that take into consideration many factors, including the instant offense, criminal history, rehabilitative efforts, parole release plans, minor offender status, statements by victims and victims' families, potential and successful reintegration,and letters from the district attorney, sentencing court, defense attorney at the time of the offense, etc.
The Board panel conducts most interviews via video conference.
Decisions by the Board panels and Administrative Hearing Officers may be appealed directly to the Board.
If the Board grants release, this is known as an “open date,” the earliest possible release date. However, the release is contingent upon the incarcerated individual receiving an approved residence in accordance with established DOCCS" residency restrictions and certain laws, if applicable. The open date may not be established in advance of the PED unless the incarcerated individual has received a Merit certificate and has also been approved for Merit release by the Board.
Prior to the scheduled release date, the incarcerated individual will be asked to provide DOCCS staff with a release plan. This information will be given to a Parole Officer who will investigate the proposed residence or housing program, employment, vocational or educational programs, and treatment programs.
After investigating the proposed release program, results are submitted to Community Supervision staff for review and approval. The assigned field team must approve the release program.
If the release requires any changes, the incarcerated individual must contact the ORC.
The ORC and PO can assist individuals having difficulty identifying a potential residence or in need of emergency housing assistance. The new housing plan may include temporary placement in a shelter, halfway house, or a transitional residential facility.