The questions “What are the chances of making parole the first time?”, along with “How long until I get my first parole review?”, are probably the two questions most asked by people entering the Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison system.
Unfortunately, this is one of the few statistics which the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole do not provide in some form. However, take heart! As we discuss later, there are some general assumptions that can be made as well as some things that can be done to improve the chances of parole on the first request being granted.
The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles takes the position they base their decisions for granting parole on the facts of each individual case. That is, in essence, correct but as we’ve mentioned in earlier posts when you consider the number of voting members of the parole board and the number of parole applications they review, it quickly becomes apparent the voting members can only spend 3-5 minutes, at the most, reviewing each file.
Because of this limited time, it is generally accepted that offenders who have been convicted of certain crimes have little to no chance of being granted parole at their first review.
There is a class of crimes known as “3g Offenses”, named after the section of the statutes which address these crimes, and a conviction of this type of crime means not only will the defendant serve 50% of their sentence before they will even be considered for parole but it is extremely rare for anyone convicted of a 3g offense to be granted parole on their first review. 3g offenses are those involving violence in one form or another so most people can understand why the parole board treats these more harshly. (For more information go to our post on 3G Offenses and Their Effect on Parole)
Felony DWIs are also often denied parole at the first parole review. This is likely because of the political issues surrounding “drunk driving” as well as the fact that, in order for the crime to be a felony DWI, the defendant must have already been convicted at least twice before of DWI.
However, crimes that do not involve violence, offenders who have never been in prison before, and those who demonstrate they have “learned their lesson” stand a very good chance of making parole on the initial review.
How An Offender Can Demonstrate They Are Good Candidates for Parole
Our book, How to Prepare a Texas Parole Packet, contains a strategy for increasing the chances for parole regardless of whether it is their initial review or a later one. The initial strategy, set forth in much more detail in the book, is to limit the “bad information” the voting members of the parole board will review in the offender’s criminal file.
This means that from the time the defendant is initially incarcerated until the time they are released from prison, their goal is to have no “strikes” against them. For our purposes “strikes” means any write-ups while in prison, any problems they create or are a part of, and anything which the parole board may consider negative.
Why are strikes important in determining whether or not someone is granted parole? Assuming the person actually committed the crime for which they are imprisoned, and you can be assured that is what the parole board will believe, then the prisoner has already shown they can’t follow the rules or the law even when it is criminal in nature. If an offender receives write-ups or other strikes while in prison it is an indication, to the parole board, they are still demonstrating an inability to follow rules. Since there are a number of rules and conditions which must be followed while on parole, then an inability to follow rules in prison indicates a high chance the offender will not be able to follow the terms and conditions of parole and will just get revoked.
Many facilities require the offender to take classes toward their GED or to take the GED exam if they do not already have one or a high school diploma. Some offenders don’t want to do that and will miss class, argue about whether they need to take it, or fail the class by not giving it their best effort. Obtaining a GED while in prison can be used to demonstrate a willingness to better oneself as well as a sign that non-criminal goals can be set and achieved by the offender while not getting the GED or not cooperating with the prison officials can and will be regarded as a sign the offender is still not willing to follow rules.
There are other ways to show the offender is using the time while they are imprisoned to better themselves. Whether they are churchgoers or not, many religious groups offer classes both at the prison chapel and through the mail and upon completion of these classes the prisoner will receive some type of certificate. These certificates, along with other items discussed in our book How to Prepare a Texas Parole Packet, are helpful when preparing the Texas Parole Packet. Again, these fit in with the overall strategy set forth in that book.
Plans for After Prison
The time in prison can also be used for planning, “What comes next?” To increase the chances for parole a prisoner needs to have an idea as to what they will do when they are released. Where will they live? Who will they live with? Where will they try and work? Who can help them if things get rough?
All of these questions are considered by the voting members of the parole board because they can make a difference on whether someone will make it through their parol with no problems, as well as whether they are likely to repeat in the future.
The Best Way to Increase the Chances of Parole
Of course, if you can afford it and if you can find a lawyer you are comfortable with, then hiring a good Texas parole lawyer can help with making parole. It is not as important in Texas as it is in some other states since Texas doesn’t actually have parole hearings like you see in movies such as Ocean’s 11 or the Shawshank Redemption. The vast majority of the time, the only contact the two or three members of the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole who actually vote on a case have with the offender is by looking at their file.
While a Texas parole attorney can help with preparing a Texas parole packet, it can also be done by using our book which provides step-by-step instructions on how to prepare a Texas parole packet. The book explains what the parole board considers if the offender does not provide a parole packet as well as what can be done to overcome the parts which may reflect negatively on the potential parolee.
Our strategy allows for the offender to use the minimal time each file is given to focus the voting member’s attention on the information which is positive for the potential parolee and not on the negative information provided by the District Attorney in the few minutes they actually spend looking at the files.
While we can’t provide the statistics on what any particular offender’s chances are of making parole on the first try, we can tell you it varies based on the charge, the sentence, the facts, and the offender’s behavior while in prison. All of the charts contained in our book allows you to calculate the offender’s Parole Guidelines Score which will provide you with a rating indicating whether they should be granted parole on the first review.
If you have an incarcerated loved one, we suggest you take a look at our book How to Prepare a Texas Parole Packet. The book provides easy to follow instructions and forms for creating a Texas parole package.How to Prepare a Texas Parole Packet is available in ebook format as an instant download or in bundled form with an ebook and a printed book to be sent to an offender in prison or someone at home. Since we are an approved vendor there are no issues receiving our books at any of the Texas jails or prisons.