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Parole Hearings: What to Expect and How to Handle It

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Before an inmate can be released from prison and placed on parole, there must be a parole hearing conducted by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. Parole hearings are used to determine whether or not an inmate is ready to be released from incarceration and placed under community supervision, based on the decision of the parole board.

Although a parole hearing is not a guarantee of release, it can give an inmate an opportunity to explain why he or she is ready to be released. By knowing what to expect at a parole hearing and preparing in advance, an inmate can improve his or her chances of convincing the parole board that release and supervision is a worthwhile option.

What to Expect at a Parole Hearing

Before a parole hearing takes place, a date for the hearing will be scheduled and the inmate will be notified of the date. Only inmates who are eligible for parole have the option of attending a parole hearing. Eligibility can be determined based on the nature of the offense for which the inmate was incarcerated. Once a hearing has been scheduled, the inmate’s case manager will notify the inmate of the date.

A parole hearing is a chance for the inmate to explain why they should be released, how they feel about their offense and what they have learned and accomplished while in prison. It is an opportunity to present evidence which shows that the inmate is remorseful for their actions and that they have a high chance of success if they are paroled.

The hearing may include:

  • A description of the offense for which the inmate was incarcerated
  • The inmate’s behavior and achievements while incarcerated
  • The inmate’s plans for life outside of prison
  • How the inmate will handle difficulties
  • The inmate’s criminal history and their likelihood of committing further offenses

At many parole hearings, victims and relatives of victims may be invited to attend. The victims may be allowed to state why they feel the inmate should or should not be released on parole. The parole board will take this information into account when making their decision.

The Parole Letter

A parole application letter is an important part of the parole hearing process. A parole letter gives an inmate a chance to state why they should be released on parole. The letter will be given to the parole board and it can influence their decision to grant or deny parole. For this reason, putting a great deal of effort into a parole letter is important.

A parole letter should include:

  • A description of the offense that led to incarceration and any previous offenses
  • How the inmate has learned and improved while incarcerated
  • Any achievements made during incarceration
  • The inmate’s plans if granted parole
  • How the inmate will deal with any difficulties while on parole

The inmate can also include letters on their behalf from family members, clergy members, past or potential employers, counselors or prison staff. Any person who is in good standing with the community who is willing to write a letter on behalf of the inmate can be very helpful.

The letter should be formal and respectful. It should never downplay the seriousness of the crime or claim that the trial was unjust. It should never blame others for the inmate’s actions or accuse the police of wrongful behavior. The point of a parole letter is to accept responsibility for an offense while making a strong case for the inmate’s chances of success in the outside world.

The Parole Interview

At a parole hearing, the inmate will appear before a group of officials for an interview. The parole board will ask the inmate direct questions about their criminal history, their time in prison and what they plan to do if they are granted parole.

This can be very intimidating but it is important for inmates to have a clear idea of how to answer these questions. The inmate should be calm, courteous and respectful at all times. A parole hearing is not the place for angry rants or begging for release. The inmate should state his or her case, make reference to their accomplishments while incarcerated and clearly show that they have a solid plan for employment and lodgings if they are released.

They should also indicate their involvement in any substance abuse treatment groups and any organizations that have helped them better themselves.

It’s always a good idea to consult with a lawyer before a parole hearing. A lawyer may be able to help an inmate prepare for any questions from the parole board and formulate a plan of action if they are released.

You can count attorney Brett A. Podolsky for experienced representation. If you would like more information about parole hearings,  contact us today at 713-227-0087.


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