As we have mentioned in a previous post, the parole system in Texas is not like other states and definitely not like they show in the movies. In Texas there is no opportunity for an offender to meet with the voting members of the parole board. They usually don't have a chance to even talk to the people who actually vote on their release. The only contact the prisoner or their loved ones will have with the voting members of the Texas Board of Parole will be through any written documentation, such as a Texas Parole Packet, that is sent to them.
This is often confused with the interview done by the Institutional Parole Officer at the prison unit. The Institutional Parole Officer works for the parole board but does not have a say in whether an inmate is granted parole. Their role in the parole process is to gather information about the offender and one of their ways of obtaining this information is with an interview. During this interview, the Institutional Parole Officer will ask questions about the offender’s past and future plans. They discuss occupational history, education history, criminal history, psychological history, behavior, and accomplishments during their incarceration, future living arrangements, and other plans if they are granted parole. This information typed in a report and becomes part of the information given to the parole board member who does get to vote.
Due to the nature of the questions and responses, the offender can feel the interviewer is a voting member of the parole board. Often, the Institutional Parole Officer does not tell the offender that they do not have a say in whether or not parole is granted and in many cases will tell the offender they will be granted or denied parole when, in fact, they have no control or knowledge on the issue.
If a Texas Parole Packet has already been sent to the board this is also a good time for the prisoner to verify that the IPO has the packet and will consider it when preparing their report. If the Texas parole packet has not been sent then the prisoner complete one and have it sent to the voting members.
It is important to note that there are approximately 200 IPO in Texas who interview inmates at over 100 TDCJ units and 254 county jails across the state. Much of the time is spent preparing detailed case summaries about the offender. With over 150,000 inmates that means the IPOs do not have much time for interviews or to write a comprehensive case summary.
That is why a parole package is so important during the Texas parole consideration process. A parole package has to be more than just a letter pleading for the release of a loved one, it needs to contain information that shows that the prisoner is a person and not just a mug shot and a number.
TexasParoleNow.com strongly recommends How to Prepare a Texas Parole Presentation Package. The book is available as an instant download or as a bundle including a download and a printed copy that can be mailed to you or to the prisoner which will allow them to understand and assist in preparing the packet.