Parole Conditions and the Importance of Not Violating
Statistics on Parole and Parole Revocations
Actually being granted parole is the hardest part of the parole process for most people. As
a matter of fact, the latest statistics from the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole (TBPP) show a slight reversal in the trend of granting more paroles. The 2015 annual report shows the overall parole approval rate for FY 2015 was 35.13 percent while the 2016 annual report provides only 34.02 percent of the paroles were granted. (More on this at the end of this article.)
Many parolees, however, find completing their parole to be a difficult proposition as well. While the number of revocations has decreased from 18% in 2012 to 15.7% in the 2016 annual report. As soon as the 2017 numbers are finalized we will update this if there are any significant changes.
Standard Requirements and Conditions of Parole
All parolees have to meet certain requirements to avoid having a revocation filed. The official publication of the TBPP states, “Rules of release may include, but are not limited to the following:”
- 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, possess, sell, or control any firearm, prohibited weapon, or illegal
weapon as defined in the Texas Penal Code; do not unlawfully carry any weapon; and
do not use or attempt or threaten to use any tool, implement, or object or threaten to
cause any bodily injury;
- Avoid persons or places of disreputable or harmful character;
- Do not enter into any agreement to act as an “informer” or special agent for any law
enforcement agency without specific written approval of the Parole Division; and
- Abide by any special conditions imposed by a Parole Panel, whether imposed upon
release and listed on the release certificate or imposed at a later date.
As the last point in the list explains, “special conditions” can be imposed by the parole board as well. The TBPP explains this as, “A Parole Panel may add special release conditions for any offender. The most common special conditions include; sex offender requirements, intensive supervision, electronic monitoring, drug monitoring (urinalysis), or mandatory participation in drug/alcohol treatment, educational programs, or psychological counseling. A Parole Panel may also impose other conditions deemed appropriate to the individual and in the interest of society, including payment of court-ordered restitution to victims. A Super-Intensive Supervision Program (SISP) special condition requires violent/assaultive offenders to be placed on an SISP caseload upon release from prison.”
A copy of these conditions and an agreement to abide by them is provided to the parolee and must be signed before they are officially on parole.
Every parolee of which we are aware, even those who have no indication of a drug history, are required to provide a urine sample for drug testing on a regular basis, normally at the time of their meeting with their parole officer. In addition, many/most parolees are visited at least once at their residence by the parole officer.
Repercussions of a Failure to Follow Conditions
The failure to abide by any condition, or to violate it in any way, can result in not only a revo
cation being filed and a “blue warrant” issued for the parolee’s arrest, but even a minor, technical violation can result in a return to prison.
Avoiding a Parole Revocation
One of the first things a parolee can do to avoid being revoked is to remain on good terms with their parole officer. This means being polite, being on time for meetings or appointments, and projecting a good image.
Many of these conditions are extremely easy to follow and are essentially just a matter of staying away from a bad environment an
d bad people. If a condition is violated the parolee may still be able to avoid being sent back to prison by taking steps to correct
the problems (such as asking for additional drug counseling if there was a “dirty” drug screen) and by showing contrition to the parole officer.
We’ll discuss more about what happens while on parole or after a revocation is filed in a future article.
How to Increase the Chances of Parole Being Granted
Unfortunately, many people are under the impression that the Texas Parole system works the way it does in the movies, when someone enters a room and the people who vote on whether or not they are to get parole have a Q & A session with the prisoner.
That’s incorrect. In Texas, it is much more likely that the person seeking parole will meet with a single person from the Parole Board and that person usually is a clerk that doesn’t even vote on the parole. All they are doing is confirming the information contained in the file, which has only what has been provided from the court proceedings and the police and/or District Attorney who handled the conviction.
Then, two voting members of the Parole Board will review the file and cast their vote. If there is a tie, a third member will review the file and vote and that vote will be the decision.
Since there is no personal interview, it is important that the file which is reviewed by the voting members contains not only the information from the prosecution but also any information which reflects in a positive way and which can be provided by the potential parolee and/or their friends and family.
That’s where our book, How to Prepare a Texas Parole Packet (2018 edition), makes such a difference. We have developed a strategy and forms which will allow a person to prepare a packet of information to be considered by the members before they actually vote. The system is designed to change this from an impersonal decision based on pieces of paper, to a vote on the freedom of a person with a name, face, and a community who relies on them and is anxiously awaiting their return home.
As we point out in the book, voting members have a huge number of case files they have to process which means hey have only a few minutes per file to make their decision. Isn’t it important to make sure at least part of those few minutes are spent on the positive side of the person applying for parole?
How to Prepare a Texas Parole Packet is available as an instantly downloadable e-book or as a “bundle” which includes the e-book as well as a printed copy. The printed copy can be mailed to the person at home and helping prepare the parole packet or the e-book can be used by them and the printed copy mailed to the person in prison. Since it comes directly from the publisher, the books are allowed to be shipped to the prison.