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Understanding the Texas Parole Process

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How Does the Texas Parole Board Make Their Decisions?

A question most asked of potential parolees is “How does the Parole Board make their decisions about parole?”

The members of the Texas Parole Board use a set of parole guidelines in order to obtain a score for an offender.  For years, the Parole Board has been using a two-prong guideline to determine an offender’s likelihood of parole.  The guidelines contain two major sections:  the Risk Assessment Instrument and the Offense Severity Class.  These work together to provide an offender’s likelihood of parole in a single score.  In appearance, the guidelines are objective, but the actual application appears to be completely subjective, with parole being granted and/or denied to different offenders with apparently the same scores.

It is important to note that these are only guidelines and the results of the formula does not necessarily mean a vote will go one way or the other.  Parole board members have a lot of leeway when making the decision to grant or deny parole and frequently will vote outside the guidelines.   

In the Texas Administrative Code Title 27 Public Safety and Corrections Chapter 145 Rule 145.3 states that parole is a privilege not a right and the parole board has complete discretion to grant or deny parole.   The rule also states there are no mandatory rules or guidelines that must be followed in every case because each offender is unique.   Each board member has a duty to make release decisions which are in the best interest of society and the use of the parole guidelines are a tool to aid in their decision making process.

Because the rule stresses this discretionary decision making process, there is little evidence to show or prove that a parole board member violated any law or rule if parole is denied to an offender. 

While this can be frustrating, the same process can also work to an offender’s advantage.  The focus on the need to evaluate a case on an individual basis means that a parole package can play an important role in helping to obtain parole.  By presenting a complete and thorough parole package including a viable parole plan, support letters, proof regarding the changes the offender has undergone during their incarceration, education, and other relevant information, it is possible to obtain a favorable vote.  

We understand that most families find the lack of clear guidance on what will get the parole board to vote a certain way can be very frustrating.  However, submitting a complete parole package can greatly increase the offender’s chance for parole.  Anyone can prepare an effective Texas Parole Packet. All they need is the information contained in our eBook, How to Prepare a Texas Parole Packet available as both as an instantly downloadable eBook and as a bundle of the eBook and a printed book (which can be sent to the person in prison to allow them to help with the preparation of the package).

Over 80,000 Inmates Considered for Parole in 2012

In 2012, 81,638 inmates were considered for parole.  Of those, only 29,689 were approved.  That means the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole approved just 36.8% of the inmates who were up for parole.   On average each parole office decides over 16,000 parole reviews per year, roughly 310 per week or almost 63 per day.  These numbers do not include the additional thousands of cases in which the board is considering an inmate for mandatory supervision.

Based on these numbers, it is clear the members of the Parole Board have an overwhelming workload regarding granting or denying parole.  Given these staggering numbers, it is hard to know how closely they are able to look at each individual case beyond a quick look at the case summary and criminal history.  Often information relevant to deciding whether someone should be granted parole is not captured by the IPO who created the case summary.

That is why a complete and properly prepared parole package is important.  A properly prepared parole packet can allow a chance to present the person in a completely different light. It can allow you to change the perception from a "file and number" to that of a person with hopes, dreams, good points, and loved ones on the outside waiting for them.

Anyone can prepare an effective Texas Parole Packet. All they need is the information contained in our book, How to Prepare a Texas Parole Packet available as both as an instant downloadable and as a bundle of the eBook and a printed book (which can be sent to the person in prison to allow them to help with the preparation of the package).