Comprehensive Guide to Parole in Texas
If you or a loved one are facing serious criminal charges, you will no doubt want to know the worst-case scenario: how much jail time are you facing? Am I eligible for probation? Is parole an option? This guide will answer the important and hard questions surrounding Texas’ probation and parole law, and hopefully give you some knowledge as you discuss your case with your criminal defense attorney. If you are facing criminal charges: from a simple possession of marijuana to a complicated aggravated assault or even murder, we always recommend that you immediately contact an experienced criminal lawyer to talk through your case and get you on the right footing to fight your charges. As you will see below, failure to defend against your charges or having an attorney who doesn’t know what they’re doing could cost you some serious time – YEARS – spent in prison. Call the experienced lawyers at Cofer Luster Law Firm, PC today.
Table of Contents
- Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles / Pardons and Paroles Division
- Parole, Mandatory Supervision/Discretionary Mandatory Supervision, & Probation
- The Parole Process
- Rules and Conditions of Parole/Mandatory Supervision
- Revocation of Parole/Mandatory Supervision
- Statistics regarding inmate population and Parole/Mandatory Supervision release
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and the Pardons and Paroles Division of the TDCJ
Board of Pardons and Paroles
The Board of Pardons and Paroles (“BPP” or “Board”) consists of seven members appointed by the Governor with the consent of the Texas Senate and must be representative of the general public. The Governor may remove a Board member at any time for any reason, except members appointed by a previous Governor. Appointments by the Governor must be made without regard to race, color, sex, age, or other discriminating factors. Board members must have been Texas residents for two years before appointment, and no more than three members of the board may be former employees of the TDCJ. Each board member holds office for six-year staggered terms.
The Chair of the Board, selected by the Governor, appoints 14 parole Commissioners that assist the Board in parole and revocation decisions. All Board members and parole Commissioners are required to complete comprehensive training on the criminal justice system, especially parole procedures. Board members and parole Commissioners determine:
- Which inmates are to be released on parole or mandatory supervision;
- Conditions of parole or mandatory supervision;
- The modification and withdrawal of conditions of parole or mandatory supervision, including special conditions;
- Which offenders may be released from supervision and reporting; and
- The continuation, modification, and revocation of parole or mandatory supervision.
The Board members and parole Commissioners act in panels (known as parole panels) composed of three members when making decisions. Each panel must include at least one Board member and any combination of Board members and parole Commissioners. However, parole decisions regarding capital felons, persons convicted of certain sex crimes, and offenders required to serve 35 calendar years before parole eligibility require a two-thirds majority vote by the entire BPP. These are known as Senate Bill 45 cases.
Pardons and Paroles Division
The Pardons and Paroles Division (“PPD” or “Division”) of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is tasked with the investigation and supervision of all releases on parole or mandatory supervision and reintegrates felons into society after their release from prison. Parole officers employed by the PPD supervise offenders and ensure that they follow the terms of their release. The officers receive specialized training for supervising releases that had previously been identified as being members of a prison or street gang. When a parole panel considers release on parole or mandatory supervision for an offender, the Division is responsible for notifying the Sheriffs, Chief of Police, Prosecuting Attorneys, and the District Judge in both the county where the inmate was convicted and the county to which the inmate is to be released. The Division also makes a reasonable effort to notify the victims and the victim’s family of the possible parole. The PPD does not make release decisions but works closely with the Board of Pardons and Paroles to provide information needed for informed decision about possible release.
Parole, Mandatory Supervision, Discretionary Mandatory Supervision, and Probation
Parole is the release of a prisoner to serve the remainder of their sentence in the community under supervision of the Pardons and Paroles Division (PPD) of the TDCJ. An offender can only be paroled if they are approved by a parole panel and they have served enough of their sentence to be eligible for parole by law. The parole panel also determines conditions of release that the prisoner is required to follow once out of prison. Parole is only available for inmates in the Institutional Division (prison) of the TDCJ and does not apply to those in state jail.
Below is the statutory guidelines for parole eligibility. Parole eligibility dates, except for offenders on death row or in other specific cases, are calculated by the Correctional Institutions Division Records Office of the TDCJ. Soon after arrival in prison, the Records Office will provide a time calculation sheet showing the initial parole eligibility date. The type of offense determines the percentage of a sentence that must be served to reach eligibility, and the eligibility date may change based on time for good conduct.
|Offense/Sentence/Enhancement/Affirmative Finding</strong||Statute inmate was sentenced under:||Parole eligible in:|
|Death sentence||–||Not Eligible|
|Life w/out parole||–||Not Eligible|
|Continuous sexual abuse of a young child or children||§ 21.02, Penal Code||Not Eligible|
|Minimum 25 year sentence for aggravated sexual assault||§ 22.021(f), Penal Code||Not Eligible|
|Aggravated sexual assault with Repeater or Habitual enhancement||§ 22.021 with enhancement under §12.42(c)(4), Penal Code||Not Eligible|
|Life sentence for capital felony –
offender younger than 18 years old
|§ 12.31(a)(1), Penal Code||40 years (no good time included)|
|SENTENCED to life in TDCJ for an offense of:
||§ 12.42(c)(2), Penal Code||35 years (no good time included)|
|Criminal Solicitation||§ 15.03, Penal Code||½ of sentence or 30 years, whichever is less, but in no event less than 2 years
(no good time included)
|Murder1||§ 19.02, Penal Code|
|Aggravated Kidnapping||§ 20.04, Penal Code|
|Trafficking of Persons||§ 20A.02, Penal Code|
|Indecency with a Child by sexual
|§ 22.11(a)(1), Penal Code|
|Sexual Assault1||§ 22.011, Penal Code|
|Aggravated Sexual Assault1||§ 22.021, Penal Code|
|Injury to a child, Elderly, or Disabled Individual causing serious bodily injury if first degree felony and victim is a child||§ 22.04(a)(1), Penal Code|
|Aggravated Robbery||§ 29.03, Penal Code|
|Burglary in habitation and offender intended to commit therein felony continuous sexual abuse of young child/children (§ 21.02), indecency with a child (§ 21.11), sexual assault (§22.021), or prohibited sexual conduct (§ 25.02).||§ 30.02(d), Penal Code|
|Compelling Prostitution||§ 43.05, Penal Code|
|Sexual Performance by Child||§ 43.25, Penal Code|
|Enhancement of sentence for use of child in the commission of offense||§ 481.140, Health and Safety Code|
|Enhancement of sentence for offense in drug free zone, if defendant had previously been convicted of an offense and punishment enhanced under listed subsections||§ 481.134(c),(d),(e), or (f), Health and Safety Code|
|An offense for which the judgement contains an affirmative finding that the use or exhibition of a deadly weapon occurred during the commission or flight from the commission of an offense, or an offense for which the judgement contains an affirmative finding that a firearm was used or exhibited during the commission or flight from the commission of an offense||§ 42A.054(c) or (d), Penal Code|
|Continuous Trafficking of Persons||§ 20A.03, Penal Code|
|Engaging in organized criminal activity||§ 71.02, Penal Code|
|Directing activities of criminal street gangs||§ 71.023, Penal Code|
|Enhancement of sentence for offense in drug free zone||§ 481.134, Health and Safety Code||5 years or sentenced term, whichever is less (no good time included)|
|Any other inmate (except those chosen for Medically Recommended Intensive Supervision (§ 508.146 Gov’t Code))||N/A||Actual time + good time = ¼ of the sentence OR 15 years, whichever is less|
|1For every 12 months that elapse between the date the arrest warrant is issued after an indictment for the offense and the date the inmate is arrested, the earliest date on which the inmate is eligible for parole is delayed by three (3) years from the date otherwise listed in the chart.|
If an offender is sentenced to consecutive felony sentences, the parole panel cannot consider the consecutive sentences as a single sentence for the purpose of parole, and they cannot release an offender before the date the inmate becomes eligible for release on parole from the last sentence imposed on the inmate. However, the panel will designate during each sentence the date the inmate would have been eligible for release on parole if the offender was only sentenced to a single sentence. The judgment and sentence of an inmate sentenced for a felony, other than the last sentence in a series of consecutive sentences, ends when the actual calendar time served equals the sentence imposed by the court or on the date a parole panel designated as the date the inmate would have been eligible if only sentenced to a single sentence.
Mandatory Release on Supervision (Parole)
Mandatory supervision is the release of a prisoner to community supervision by a parole panel after the offender’s calendar time in prison plus good conduct time equal the total term to which the offender was sentenced. An offender gains “good time” for good behavior and by participating in work and self-improvement programs. Good time is not a right, and prison officials may award or take away good time based on conduct. Like those released on parole, those released on mandatory supervision are subject to condition of release determined by a parole panel.
Before August 31, 1996, release to mandatory supervision was automatic with no parole panel decision involved. However, in 1996 the Texas Legislature passed legislation where the parole panel may now deny mandatory supervision if the panel determines the inmate’s accrued good conduct time is not an accurate reflection of the inmate’s potential for rehabilitation or that the inmate’s release would endanger the public. A denial of mandatory supervision by the panel is not subject to review, but the parole panel that makes the denial must reconsider the inmate for mandatory supervision at least twice during the two years following the denial. Thus, mandatory release is now referred to as discretionary mandatory supervision because an offender who committed their offense after August 31, 1996 must receive approval from a parole panel. This can be somewhat confusing, as the TDCJ, statutes concerning parole, and this guide often refer to it as simply mandatory supervision. Just remember, if the offense occurred after August 31, 1996, release is in no way “mandatory.”
Technically speaking, an offender can be released on parole, mandatory supervision (if the offense occurred before 8/31/96), or discretionary mandatory supervision (if the offense occurred after 8/31/96). However, those are terms for the method of release, and once an offender is out and under the supervision of the PPD he is said to be “out on parole” regardless of the release method.
An inmate that has been previously convicted of, or is currently serving a sentence for, an offense outlined in Texas Government Code § 508.149(a) is not eligible for mandatory supervision. These offenses include:
- an offense for which the judgement contains an affirmative finding that the use or exhibition of a deadly weapon occurred during the commission or flight from the commission of an offense (Code of Criminal Procedure 42A.054(c)), or an offense for which the judgement contains an affirmative finding that a firearm was used or exhibited during the commission or flight from the commission of an offense (Code of Criminal Procedure 42A.054(d));
- a first or second degree felony murder (Section 19.02, Penal Code);
- a capital felony murder (Section 19.03, Penal Code);
- a first or second degree felony aggravated kidnapping (Section 20.04, Penal Code);
- an offense of indecency with a child (Section 21.11, Penal Code);
- a felony sexual assault (Section 22.011, Penal Code);
- a first or second degree felony aggravated assault (Section 22.02, Penal Code);
- a first degree felony aggravated sexual assault (Section 22.021, Penal Code);
- a first degree felony injury to a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual (Section 22.04, Penal Code);
- a first degree felony arson (Section 28.02, Penal Code);
- a second degree felony robbery (Section 29.02, Penal Code);
- a first degree felony aggravated robbery (Section 29.03, Penal Code);
- a first degree felony burglary (Section 30.02, Penal Code);
- a felony for which the punishment is increased under Section 481.134 (drug-free zone) or Section 481.140, Health and Safety Code (use of child in commission of offense);
- an offense of sexual performance by a child (Section 43.25, Penal Code);
- an offense of continuous sexual abuse of young child/children (Section 21.02, Penal Code);
- a first degree felony criminal solicitation (Section 15.03, Penal Code);
- an offense of compelling prostitution (Section 43.05, Penal Code);
- an offense trafficking of persons (Section 20A.02, Penal Code);
- an offense of continuous trafficking of persons (Section 20A.03, Penal Code); or
- a first degree felony engaging in organized criminal activity (Section 71.02, Penal Code) or directing activities of criminal street gangs (71.023, Penal Code).
Mandatory supervision and parole in Texas are not a commutation of a sentence or a form of clemency. Offenders placed on parole or mandatory supervision must serve the remainder of their sentence under supervision of the PPD, the parole panel may impose conditions of release, and a violation of the condition can lead to the revocation of parole or mandatory supervision and re-incarceration.
Although parole and mandatory supervision are similar to probation in a general sense, they are significantly different. Probation is court ordered community supervision that is an alternative to jail or prison. Depending on the terms of probation ordered by the court, a final conviction might be avoided.
The Process of Parole in Texas
Offenders receive an annual parole review. However, those convicted of an offense under Government Code § 508.149(a) (see list above) may have their annual reviews set off for up to five years by a vote of a parole panel. Offenders not eligible for mandatory supervision because of a conviction under § 508.149(a) are eligible for a multi-year review.
- The Pardons and Parole Division of the TDCJ identifies offenders six months prior to initial parole eligibility dates, and four months prior to subsequent annual review dates, and directs the case file to be reviewed.
- Notice is sent to trial officials, victims, and the victims’ families.
- A parole officer interviews the offender and prepares a parole case summary for the Board.
- The offender’s file is sent to the designated board office for review and a vote by a parole panel.
- The parole panel consists of three voting member and a majority (2 out of 3) is needed for a final decision.
- Members of the parole panel may request an interview with the offender or individuals in support or protest of an offender’s release to parole. However, the choice to conduct interviews is completely at the discretion of the panel member.
- Parole panel members must grant an interview with a victim, guardian of the victim, or a close relative of a deceased victim if requested. However, if more than one person is entitled to appear before the parole panel, only one person chosen by all those eligible to appear can do so.
- A victim, guardian of a victim, close relative of a deceased victim, or a representative of the victim is allowed to provide a written statement to the panel. There is no limit on the number of written statements allowed.
- Both the written statements and the interviews explore the person’s views on the offense, the inmate, and the effect of the offense on the victim.
- The offender is notified of the panel’s decision. A denial will include the next review date, and an approval may include special conditions. The notification must clearly explain the decision and the panel’s reasons for the decision.
The parole panel does not simply vote “yes” or “no.” The panel may withdraw a vote of approval at any point if new information is received. The following is a list of voting options for the panel:
- FI-1 (Further Investigation – 1): Release the offender when eligible.
- FI-2: Release on a specified future date.
- FI-3R: Transfer to a TDCJ rehabilitation program. Release to parole only after the rehabilitation program is complete and no earlier than three months from specified date. Programs may include CHANGES/Lifeskills, Voyager, Segovia Pre-Release Center, or any other approved tier program.
- FI-4R: Transfer to a TDCJ rehabilitation program. Release to parole only after the rehabilitation program is complete and no earlier than four months from specified date. The program shall be the Sex Offender Education Program.
- FI-5: Transfer to In-Prison Therapeutic Community Program with a release to aftercare.
- FI-6: Transfer to a DWI Program and release to continuum of care program.
- FI-6R: Transfer to a TDCJ rehabilitation program. Release to parole only after the rehabilitation program is complete and no earlier than six months from specified date. Programs may include the Pre-Release Therapeutic Community (PRTC), Pre-Release Substance Abuse Program (PRSAP), In-Prison Therapeutic Community Program (IPTC), or any other approved tier program.
- FI-7R: Transfer to a TDCJ rehabilitation program. Release to parole only after program completion and not earlier than seven months from the specified date. The program shall be the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative (SVORI).
- FI-18R: Transfer to a TDCJ rehabilitation program. Release for parole in Texas is only after program completion and no earlier than 18 months from specified date. The program shall be either the Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP-18), or the InnerChange Freedom Initiative (IFI).
- CU-FI: Designates the date an offender serving consecutive sentences would have been eligible for parole if single sentence.
- RMS: Release to mandatory supervision.
- NR (Next Review): Deny parole and set date for next parole consideration. Annual reviews are required except for certain violent or sexual crimes.
- SA (Serve All): Deny parole with no regular review. The offender is required to serve entire balance of sentence if discharge date occurs in less than three years.
- CU-NR: Deny favorable action and set next review in consecutive sentence case.
- CU-SA: Require offender to serve all of current sentence in consecutive sentence case.
- DMS: Deny mandatory supervision because the offender’s accrued good conduct time does not accurately reflect potential rehabilitation and offender’s release would endanger the public. Next review date is also set.
Senate Bill 45 case votes are limited to:
- FI-1: Release when eligible. All conditions attached to release apply.
- FI-4R (M/Y): Place sex offenders into four months of programs prior to release.
- FI-9R (M/Y): Place sex offenders into nine months of programs prior to release.
- FI-18R (M/Y): Place sex offenders into 18 months of programs prior to release.
- NR (M/Y): Deny favorable parole action and set for review in three years.
- SA: Deny parole with no subsequent reviews if within three years of discharge date. The offender must serve the entire balance of sentence.
The BPP considers numerous factors when voting on individual parole cases. Their ultimate goal is to reintegrate an offender into the community with prudent conditions of release, as well as protecting the public. The factors include: seriousness of the offense(s); letter of support or protest; sentence length and time served; criminal history; number of incarcerations; juvenile history; participation in specialized programs while incarcerated; and the offender’s age.
The BPP uses research-based guidelines to asses each offender’s likelihood for a successful parole against the risk to society. The guidelines consist of two components, the Risk Assessment Instrument and the Offense Severity Class, that combine to provide a single score.
The Risk Assessment Instrument weighs static factors, those associated with the offender’s prior criminal record, and dynamic factors, characteristics the offender has shown since incarcerations.
Static factors include:
- age at first admission to juvenile or adult correctional facility;
- history of release revocations for felony offenses;
- prior incarcerations;
- employment history; and
- the commitment offense.
Dynamic factors include:
- offender’s current age;
- whether the offender is a gang member;
- education, vocational, and certified on-the-job training programs completed;
- prison disciplinary conduct; and
- current prison custody level.
The offender is assigned 0-10 points for static factors and 0-9 points for dynamic factors. The scores are added, and the higher the score, the greater the risk the offender presents for successful parole and vice versa.
|Score Assigned Risk Level:||Male Points||Female Points|
|Low||3 or less||3 or less|
The BPP has assigned an Offense Severity Class ranking to all 2,642 felony charges in the Criminal Code. The severity classes range from low for non-violent crimes, such as credit card abuse, to the highest – capital murder. See the full list here.
The two components of the guidelines are then merged in a matrix to create the Parole Guidelines Score based on the intersection of the risk score and the offense severity rating. Parole guideline scores range from 1 for an individual with the lowest probability of success, up to a 7 for an individual with the greatest chance of success. The higher the score, the better chance he or she has to be voted for parole. However, parole panel members retain discretion to vote outside the guidelines and the guidelines are not automatic.
|Risk Level||Risk Level|
|Offense Severity Class||Highest||High||Mod.||Low||High||Mod.||Low|
*Example: Male with a highest Offensive Severity Class and a low Risk Level would have a Texas Parole Guidelines Score of 3; Female with a moderate Offensive Severity Class and a high Risk Level would have a Parole Guidelines Score of 4.
An inmate to be released on parole or mandatory supervision will be furnished with a contract stating the conditions and rules of parole or mandatory supervision or parole in Texas. The inmate must accept and sign the contract before release.
A releasee (offender released on parole or mandatory supervision) must serve the entire period of parole or mandatory supervision. The time an offender must serve on parole or mandatory supervision is calculated as the total calendar time of the sentence minus the calendar time served in prison (good time is not a factor). The Pardons and Parole Division may allow a releasee to serve the remainder of their sentence without supervision or reporting to a parole officer if a regional parole supervisor approves. However, the PPD may require a person released from supervision and reporting to resubmit to supervision and reporting at any time for any reason. Annually, a parole officer identifies releasees under his or her supervision who are eligible for early release from supervision and reporting. A releasee is eligible for early release if:
- The releasee has been under supervision for at least one-half of the time that remained on the releasee’s sentence when they were released from prison;
- During the previous two-year period, the releasee has not committed any violations of the rules or conditions of release;
- During the period on supervision, the releasee’s parole or mandatory supervision has not been revoked; and
- The PPD determines the releasee has made a good faith effort to pay restitution ordered by a court and it is in the best interest to society to allow the releasee to serve the remainder of their sentence without supervision
The parole officer forwards any recommendations for early release to the Regional Parole Supervisor.
Rules and Conditions of Mandatory Supervision/Parole in Texas
Mandatory Conditions of Parole/Mandatory Supervision:
The parole panel assigns required conditions of release for a Releasee released on parole or mandatory supervision.
- The Releasee must reside in the county in which they resided at the time of the offense for which the Releasee was incarcerated, or the Releasee must reside in the county in which they committed the offense for which they were incarcerated, if the Releasee was not a Texas resident when the offense was committed. See § 508.181, Government Code.
- However, the parole panel may require a Releasee to reside in a different county to protect the life or safety of a victim, a witness, or any other person. The panel may also require a different county if they believe it will increase the likelihood of the Releasee’s successful completion of parole or mandatory supervision.
- At any time after release to parole or mandatory supervision, a parole panel may modify the conditions to require a Releasee to live in a different county other than the county required by the original conditions.
- The panel may assign a different county for other reason such as employment or a treatment program.
- Each month, the Releasee must pay the PPD a $10 parole supervision fee and an $8 administrative fee.
- An inmate must demonstrate to the parole panel that he or she has an educational skill level that is equal to or greater than a student who has completed the sixth grade. If the panel determines the inmate does not meet the educational level, the panel will require an inmate, when they are released, to obtain that level of education.
- A Releasee will be required to take a drug test when there is evidence that a controlled substance is present in the Releasee’s body, the Releasee has used a controlled substance, or the use of a controlled substance is related to the offense for which the Releasee was convicted.
- An inmate, who was a participant in an In-Prison Therapeutic Community immediately before release, must participate as a Releasee in a drug or alcohol abuse continuum of care treatment program.
- A Releasee required to register as a sex offender due to the nature of their offense must register as a sex offender and submit a blood sample or other specimen to the Department of Public Safety for the purposes of creating a DNA record of the Releasee.
- If the offender used the Internet or other type of electronic device to commit an offense that requires registration as a sex offender, the Releasee cannot use the internet to access obscene material, access a social networking site, communicate with any individual younger than 17 concerning sexual relations, or communicate with another individual the releasee knows is younger than 17 years old. The Releasee is required to submit regular inspection or monitoring of each electronic device used to access the internet.
- The parole panel may modify the above condition if it interferes with the Releasee’s ability to attend school or employment or the individual is a parent or guardian of an individual who is younger than 17 years of age.
- The Releasee must participate in a sex offender treatment program developed by the TDCJ if the offender was serving a sentence for an offense under Chapter 21 (Sexual Offenses) of the Penal Code, is required to register as a sex offender, or was participating in a sex offender treatment program in prison immediately before release.
- The panel will establish a child safety zone for a Releasee convicted of certain offenses in which a child was the victim. See § 508.187, Government Code.
- If the Releasee was found to have committed an offense because of bias or prejudice (Art. 42.014 Code of Criminal Procedure), he or she will be required to perform no less than 300 hours of community service at a project designated by the parole panel that primarily serves the person or group that the offender was biased or prejudices against.
- A Releasee convicted of certain offenses will be required to pay the PPD a fee of $5 each month during the period of supervision. See § 508.189, Government Code
- A Releasee that served an offense for stalking (§ 42.072 Penal Code) cannot communicate directly or indirectly with the victim; go to or near the residence, place of employment, or business of the victim; or go to or near a school, day-care facility, or similar facility where a dependent child of the victim is in attendance. The panel will specifically describe the prohibited locations and the minimum distance the Releasee must maintain from the locations.
- The defendant cannot intentionally or knowingly communicate directly or indirectly with a victim of the Releasee’s offense or intentionally or knowingly go near a residence, school, place of employment, or business of a victim. A victim may petition the panel for a modification of the conditions. A defendant may participate in a victim-offender mediation at the request of the victim, guardian of the victim, or relative of a deceased victim.
- A Releasee that is an illegal criminal alien released to the custody of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement must leave the U.S. as soon as possible after release, regardless of whether a final order of deportation was issues, and must not unlawfully return to Texas or unlawfully enter the U.S.
Discretionary Conditions of Parole/Mandatory Supervision:
The parole panel has the option to assign certain conditions of release for a Releasee released on parole or mandatory supervision
- A parole panel may impose any condition that a court may impose as a condition of probation under Article 42.12 Code of Criminal Procedure, including the that Releasee submit to drug tests or electronic monitoring if the panel determines that without testing or electronic monitoring the inmate would not be released on parole.
- The panel may require the Releasee to make payments for the destruction of property for which the Releasee is liable under Government Code § 500.002.
- The panel may require that a Releasee serving an offense for stalking (§ 42.072 Penal Code) attend psychological counseling sessions if the panel determines that appropriate mental health services are available through the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, or through another mental health provider.
- The panel may require that the Releasee attend counseling for substance abuse or participate in a substance abuse program or facility licensed or approved by the Texas Commission of Alcohol and Drug Abuse if the Releasee was sentenced for an offense involving a controlled substance or if the panel determined the Releasee’s substance abuse was related to the commission of the offense.
- The panel may establish a child safety zone for a Releasee convicted of certain offenses in which a child was the victim. See § 508.225, Government Code.
- A panel cannot require an inmate to undergo an orchiectomy (testicle removal) as a condition.
- A panel may require that a Releasee submit to electronic monitoring or other technological services designed to track a person’s location if the Releasee is identified as a member of a criminal gang and has three or more times been convicted of, or received deferred adjudication community supervision or another form of community supervision or probation for, a felony offense in Texas, another state, or the U.S.
- A panel may require that a Releasee participate in a sex offender treatment program specified by the parole panel if the Releasee was serving a sentence under Chapter 21 (Sexual Offenses) of the Penal Code, is required to register as a sex offender, or the panel makes a finding that the Releasee constitutes a threat to society because of the Releasee’s lack of sexual control, regardless of the offense for which the Releasee was serving a sentence.
Rules of Mandatory Supervision/Parole in Texas
Offenders released to parole or mandatory supervision must also follow certain rules while in the community. If the rules are broken, the Releasee may be subject to revocation or other sanctions. Rules of release may include, but are not limited, to:
- Report as instructed to the supervising parole officer;
- Obey all municipal, county, state, and federal laws;
- Obtain the parole officer’s written permission before changing residence;
- Obtain the parole officer’s written permission before leaving the state;
- Do not own, posses, or control any firearm, prohibited weapon, or illegal weapon as defined in the Penal Code;
- Avoid persons or places of disreputable or harmful character;
- Do not agree to be an informant for any law enforcement agency without written permission from the Pardons and Paroles Division; and
- Abide by any special conditions imposed by the parole panel.
Role of the Parole Division and Warrants/Summons
The Pardons and Parole Division of the TDCJ supervises offenders on parole or mandatory release and may issue a warrant or a summons for an offender if (1) there is reason to believe that the person has been released when not eligible for release, (2) the person has been arrested for an offense, (3) there is an authenticated document stating the person violated a rule or condition of release, or (4) there is evidence that the person has exhibited behavior during release that indicates that the person poses a danger to society. A warrant requires the return of the offender to the institution from which the person was released or paroled, a summons requires the person to appear for a hearing.
The PPD may decide to proceed with the warrant and set a revocation hearing date, or, if it is a first-time administrative violation with no additional criminal violations, the Division may withdraw the warrant and continue supervising the offender, possibly with new conditions.
Once the Division decides on a hearing, a parole officer will conduct an interview with the offender. The offender is made aware of their rights in the revocation hearing to:
- be personally served with written notice of the alleged parole violation(s),
- a preliminary hearing, unless the offender is accused only of administrative violations or has been convicted of a new criminal offense,
- a revocation hearing if the offender is alleged to have committed administrative violations or has been found guilty in a criminal case,
- full disclosure of all the evidence against the offender before the hearing,
- hire an attorney, or be represented by a state appointed attorney,
- tell the hearing officer in person what happened and to present evidence, affidavits, letters, and documents to support their position, including the right to subpoena witnesses through the parole officer,
- confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses, and
- be heard on the allegation by someone designated by the BPP.
If it appears a Releasee has violated a condition or provision of parole or mandatory supervision, the issue date of the warrant until the date of the Releasee’s arrest will not count as time served under the Releasee’s sentence.
In Morrissey v. Brewer, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that “due process” is required to revoke parole status and that an administrative hearing must be conducted before a neutral, detached officer. The BPP’s Hearing Operations unit was created to provide hearing officers with specialized training in “due process” requirements to conduct the required hearings. The Hearing Operations unit schedules hearings, appoints attorneys when necessary, conducts preliminary and revocation hearings, makes recommendations on waiver packets for offenders that choose to waive hearings, and provides a process for reconsidering a revocation decision.
There are two types of hearings: preliminary and revocation/mitigation, and a parole violator may be entitled to both or just the revocation hearing. The offender has the option of waiving either hearing. A preliminary hearing is conducted to determine if probable cause exists that an offender violated a condition of parole. A revocation/mitigation hearing is held if probable cause of a violation is found. The BPP can only revoke an offender’s parole if the preponderance of credible evidence demonstrates that a parole condition or rule was violated. Preponderance of the evidence means that it is more likely than not that there was a violation.
Similar to the procedure for determining parole, three member parole panels of the BPP review the waiver and hearing reports. The hearing location determines which of the seven voting panels, located throughout Texas, receives the case.
The following is an outline of the typical hearing procedure after an offender is arrested under PPD warrant:
- Preliminary hearing requested
- A parole officer conducts an interview with the offender and schedules a preliminary hearing. The officer then notifies the offender of the date and time of the hearing.
- A hearing officer from the Hearing Operations unit conducts the preliminary hearing, reviews information and evidence, and decides whether probable cause exists to believe a violation of parole or mandatory supervision occurred.
- If probable cause for a violation is found, the officer will
- Decide if the case should proceed to a revocation hearing and allow the offender the opportunity to attend the revocation hearing or waive it. If the offender chooses to have the hearing, the parole officer will schedule a revocation hearing date upon disposition of any pending charges (if the offender committed a new offense).
- If the revocation hearing is waived or the officer believes no probable cause exists, the officer will forward the waiver or preliminary hearing report to a parole panel for disposition. The panel will generally vote to:
- Continue parole or mandatory supervision in a manner warranted by the evidence. They may transfer the offender to a treatment facility, halfway house, Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Facility, or an Intermediate Sanction Facility,
- Direct the case to proceed to a revocation hearing, or
- Revoke the offender’s parole or mandatory release (only when the revocation hearing has been waived).
- Preliminary hearing waived
- If the preliminary hearing is waived during the initial interview with the parole officer, the officer will forward the waiver and attachments to the parole panel for disposition. A parole board analyst, if there is no probable cause, may refer the case to a parole officer in order to schedule a revocation hearing, or may present the case to a parole panel for disposition. The parole panel will generally take one of the same three action listed above for preliminary hearing.
- Revocation hearing requested
- After the initial interview, the parole officer schedules the revocation hearing and notifies the offender of the time and date if one is requested.
- A hearing officer from the Hearing Operations unit conducts the hearing.
- If the hearing officer determines that the preponderance of the evidence supports a violation, the officer moves to the mitigation phase of the hearing. After the hearing, the hearing officer forwards the parole panel a report summarizing the evidence and all submitted documents. Both the hearing officer and the offender’s parole officer make a recommendation for resolving the case. The panel disposes the case by choosing to:
- Direct the case to proceed to a revocation hearing (only when considering a waiver of the hearing),
- Revoke the offender’s parole or mandatory release, or
- Refer the case back to the hearing officer for further investigation.
- Revocation hearing waived
- If waived during the initial interview, the parole officer forwards the waiver and documents to the parole panel. A board analyst determines if a preponderance of the evidence shows that a violation of parole or mandatory supervision occurred. The analyst presents the findings to the parole panel and they will choose one of the four options listed above when a revocation hearing is requested.
Reopening a Hearing
If the parole panel revokes parole or mandatory supervision, the offender has 60 days from the decision date to request that the case be reopened because of a significant error in the hearing process or newly discovered information. A request to reopen the revocation hearing or reinstate supervision 61 days or more after the initial decision will only be granted in exceptional circumstances, such as:
- A judicial order requiring a hearing,
- A judicial reversal of a conviction where the offense was a factor in the decision to revoke supervision, or
- Parole was revoked without a waiver or hearing as required by law.
An offender must make the reopening request in writing and deliver it by hand to the BPP or by mail to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, Legal Section, P.O. Box 13401, Austin, Texas 78711. The BPP will either grant the motion and order the hearing reopened, deny the motion, or reverse the previous revocation decision.
The data supporting this guide is provided in a 2018 statistical report by the TDCJ. As of August 2018, there were approximately 134,152 inmates in Texas prisons, and the average sentence length was 19.5 years. 61.6% of inmates in prison were convicted of a violent offense. There was a total of 111,401 parolees (both parole and mandatory supervision) under supervision of the Pardons and Parole Division. Only about 771 inmates were out on early release from supervision and reporting to the PPD.
In the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, 34,910 were released to mandatory supervision or parole in Texas. The sentence length that saw the most releases was 3 to 5 years, with 13,820 inmates released. In FY 2018, approximately 6,559 offenders had their parole or mandatory supervision revoked. The most revocations by a new conviction was for Burglary with 1,231 revocations. But as a combined group a new drug conviction (drug delivery or possession) was the number one reason for revocation, causing almost 30% of the revocations.
You can compare this with data from a 2014 statistical report by the TDCJ. As of August 2014, there were approximately 136,460 inmates in Texas prisons, and the average sentence length was 19.2 years. 60% of inmates in prison were convicted of a violent offense. There was a total of 113,898 parolees (both parole and mandatory supervision) under supervision of the Pardons and Parole Division. Only about 882 inmates were out on early release from supervision and reporting to the PPD.
In the Fiscal Year (FY) 2014, 35,001 inmates were released to parole or mandatory supervision. The sentence length that saw the most releases was 3 to 5 years, with 13,426 inmates released. In FY 2014, approximately 5,629 offenders had their parole or mandatory supervision revoked. A new drug conviction (drug delivery or possession) was the number one reason for revocation, causing almost 31% of the revocations.