- What is parole?Parole is the conditional release of an inmate before the full sentence of the court has been served. Parole is defined in R.S. 15: 574.11.A as, “An administrative device for the rehabilitation of prisoners under supervised freedom from actual restraint, and the granting, conditions, or revocation of parole rest in the discretion of the Board of Parole.” Inmates, who are released on parole while being released from the physical custody of prison, are released to parole supervision in their community. They remain in the legal custody of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, under state supervision and control, and are subject to the jurisdiction of the Board of Parole until the full sentence of the court has been served. Parolees who violate the terms and conditions are subject to various sanctions, including re-imprisonment.
- Is there just one type or kind of parole?No. Louisiana law recognizes four types or kinds of parole: (1) Regular Parole, which is governed by R.S. 15: 574.4.A.(1),(3) and (B); (2) IMPACT Parole, which is governed by R.S. 15: 574.4.A.(2); (3) Medical Parole, which is governed by R.S. 15: 574.20; and (4) Supervision upon release after diminution of sentence for good behavior (a/k/a, “Diminution of Sentence/Good Time Parole Supervision”), which is governed by R.S. 15: 571.5.
- Are there similarities and differences between these types of parole?Yes. See the “Parole Statutes” section of this website for the legal similarities and differences. Regular Parole is covered in sections (7) through (10); Impact Parole is covered in sections (11); Medical Parole is covered in sections (12); and Diminution of Sentence/Good Time Parole Supervision is covered in section (13). The main similarities are: (1) all four types provide for the release of an inmate before the full sentence of the court has been served, i.e., before the inmate’s full term date (FTD); (2) all four types provide only a conditional release i.e., the inmate is required to abide by the special and general terms and conditions of release in order to remain free from confinement in a correctional institution.
- Does an inmate have a vested right (a legitimate claim of entitlement) to parole (other than Diminution of Sentence/Good Time Parole Supervision)?
- Does an inmate have a due process right to a procedure that will ensure error-free parole determinations?No. See the answer to question #4.
- What is parole eligibility, who decides whether and when an inmate is parole eligible, and how does an inmate find out if an when he is parole eligible ?The Department of Corrections defines “parole eligibility” as, “The earliest date an inmate is eligible for release under parole supervision as set forth in La. R.S. 15:574.4. This release date is only valid if parole is granted by the Parole Board”. The Department of Public Safety and Corrections, not the Board of Parole decides (determines) whether or not an inmate is Parole eligible. The Department of Public Safety and Corrections, not the Board of Parole, computes (calculates) release dates, including the inmate’s parole eligibility date (PED). Upon the Department of Public Safety and Corrections making a determination that an inmate is parole eligible, computing the inmate’s parole eligibility date, and entering it on the inmate’s Master Record, the inmate is in a proper posture for parole consideration by the Board of Parole. Thereafter, and pursuant to its rule-making authority, the Board of Parole applies other criteria and scheduling processes, not inconsistent with the law, for giving parole consideration to parole eligible inmates.
- What is the difference between probation and parole?Probation is an act of the court, not of the State Board of Parole. A court may order probation instead of imprisonment for all or part of a person’s sentence. Probation is not parole. Only the Board of Parole may grant parole after a person has served part of his sentence in prison.
- When are inmates actually considered for parole?The process of considering inmates for parole starts approximately five (5) to six (6) months prior to their parole eligibility date. If appropriate under legal and Parole Board Rule standards and criteria, the inmate will be ultimately placed on a docket for a hearing before the Parole Board. For some inmates, the process can be interrupted by events such as: official records, such as court minutes, “jail credit” letters, etc. (necessary for offender class and/or computation of parole eligibility dates, etc.) not having been received by the Department of Public Safety and Corrections; charges being adjudicated subsequent to the initially calculated parole eligibility date, necessitating further review and re-computation of release dates; inmates having a relatively short period of time to serve, especially in probation revocation cases, such that their parole eligibility date may not allow sufficient time for the investigations that must be completed as part of the parole consideration process.
- Can an inmate be considered for parole more than once?Yes. A parole eligible inmate who was denied parole at a previous hearing or was previously released on parole or diminution of sentence/parole supervision and whose parole was revoked for any reason may reapply for parole consideration as set forth by Parole Board rule 705.
- How much voice does the victim have in the parole process?The impact of a crime on a victim, and the victim’s concerns for safety are major considerations in each parole decision. In addition to parole denial, the Board has other restrictive options that take the victim into account, such as adding special parole conditions that ban the parolee from certain areas, prohibiting him from having contact with the victim, or requiring him to pay restitution to the victim. Click here for more on Crime Victim Services.
- Are victims notified of a parole hearing?Yes. Louisiana law requires that a victim, or the spouse or next of kin of a deceased victim, be notified when the offender is scheduled for a parole hearing unless the victim, or the spouse or next of kin of a deceased victim, advises the board in writing that such notification is not desired. Louisiana law further requires that the notification be in writing, that it be sent no less than thirty days prior to the hearing date, and that the notice advise the victim, or the spouse or next of kin of a deceased victim, of their rights with regard to the hearing. These rights include the right to testify at the hearing, directly, or in rebuttal to testimony or evidence offered by or on behalf of the offender, or both. [Source: 15: 574.2.C.(9)].
- How are parolees supervised?According to Louisiana law, “Each parolee shall remain in the legal custody of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, office of corrections services, and shall be subject to the orders and supervision of the board. At the direction of the board, the chief probation and parole officer shall be responsible for the investigation and supervision of all parolees. The board may modify or suspend such supervision upon a determination that a parolee who had conducted himself in accordance with the conditions of his parole no longer needs the guidance and supervision originally imposed”. (Source: R.S. 15:574.7.A. Custody and supervision of parolees). Please see sections (9) and (10) under the “Statutes Applicable to Parole,” at this website, for a listing of the terms and general conditions of parole and for the special conditions that may be imposed. The Board of Parole has delegated field supervision of parolees to the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, Division of Probation and Parole.
- Can I attend a parole hearing?Yes. Anyone can attend a parole hearing. The Board of Parole is a “Public Body,” as that term is defined in Section 42:4.2(2) of Louisiana’s “Open Meeting Law.” All meetings, including parole and revocation hearings held at the regularly scheduled meetings of panels of the board, are subject to the provisions of the “Open Meeting Law.” (Source: R.S. 42:1 through R.S. 42:12).
- I was denied parole and disagree with the board’s decision. Do I have a statutory right to file an appeal from their decision?No. According to the Louisiana law, â€œParole is an administrative device for the rehabilitation of prisoners under supervised freedom from actual restraint, and the granting, conditions, or revocation of parole rest in the discretion of the Board of Parole. No prisoner or parolee shall have a right of appeal from a decision of the board regarding release or deferment of release on parole, the imposition or modification of authorized conditions of parole, the termination or restoration of parole supervision or discharge from parole before the end of the parole period, or the revocation or reconsideration of revocation of parole, except for the denial of a revocation hearing under R.S. 15:574.9 (Source: R.S. 15: 574.11.A).
The power to grant or deny release on parole (other than a release on parole under “Diminution of Sentence”) rests in the discretion of the Board of Parole. (R.S. 15: 574.11.A).
No. The United States Supreme Court directly addressed this question in the case of Greenholtz v. Inmates of Nebraska Penal Inmates, 422 U.S. 1, 99 S. Ct. 2100 (1979). The Court stated, “There is no constitutional or inherent right of a convicted person to be conditionally released before the expiration of a valid sentence. The natural desire of an individual to be released is indistinguishable from the initial resistance to being confined. But the conviction, with all its procedural safeguards, has extinguished that liberty right: “[G]iven a valid conviction, the criminal defendant has been constitutionally deprived of his liberty.” (citation omitted). Decisions of the Executive Branch, however serious their impact, do not automatically invoke due process protection; there simply is no constitutional guarantee that all executive decision making must comply with standards that assure error-free determinations. (citations omitted) This is especially true with respect to the sensitive choices presented by the administrative decision to grant parole release”.
The Supreme Court further recognized that, “A state may, as Nebraska has, establish a parole system, but it has no duty to do so. Moreover, to insure that the state-created parole system serves the public-interest purposes of rehabilitation and deterrence, the state may be specific or general in defining the conditions for release and the factors that should be considered by the parole authority. It is thus not surprising that there is no prescribed or defined combination of facts which, if shown, would mandate release on parole. Indeed, the very institution of parole is still in an experimental stage. In parole releases, like its siblings probation release and institution rehabilitation, few certainties exist. In each case, the decision differs from the traditional mold of judicial decision making in that the choice involves a synthesis of record facts and personal observation filtered through the experience of the decision maker and leading to a predictive judgment as to what is best both for the individual inmate and for the community. This latter conclusion requires the Board to assess whether, in light of the nature of the crime, the inmate’s release will minimize the gravity of the offense, weaken the deterrent impact on others, and undermine respect for the administration of justice. The entire inquiry is, in a sense, an ‘equity’ type judgment that cannot always be articulated in traditional findings”.
The Louisiana Supreme Court referenced the Greenholtz case, among others, in its decision in Bosworth v. Whitley, 627 So.2d 629 (1993), rehearing denied (1994). Regarding whether or not the parole system established by the Louisiana Legislature creates an expectancy of release or a liberty interest, the Court stated, â€œReviewed against Greenholtz and Board of Pardons v. Allen, it is apparent that the Louisiana parole statutes do not create an expectancy of release or liberty interest in general, or for those with life terms in particular. Inmates meeting standards contained in the law do have a statutory right to parole consideration, but the Parole Board has full discretion when passing on applications for early release