The Texas parole system is different than most states and different than what you see in the movies or on television, or at least the part concerned with whether or not to grant a parole to an inmate in the Texas prison system.
For starters, there are three voting members of each board deciding whether or not a parole is granted in Texas. However, only two members vote unless they disagree and only then does the third member vote.
In addition, there is no hearing where the inmate, witnesses, and/or a lawyer appears in front of the Texas parole board and gets to answer questions and argues their case for granting parole. It is very likely that neither the inmate nor their lawyer if they have one will never see or meet with any of the board members
Since there is no hearing then half of the need for a lawyer is automatically gone. Some lawyers advertise that they will telephone the board members and talk to them but I have doubts about whether they actually do, whether the parole board member ever talks to them, and whether or not it makes a difference.
Instead, in Texas an inmate meets with a member of the staff of the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole and usually not a voting member. This staff goes over the contents of the file with the offender and then the worker issues a report which the voting member reviews although they have access to the file as well.
The statistics for the fiscal year ending August 2011, the last year reported, tells us that the voting members of the parole boards considered 78,391 parole applications in Texas. We also know that there are a total of 19 commissioners and board members. Obviously, they are only spending a few minutes reviewing the file which includes not only the criminal and prison records, but also the contents of any parole packets.
The actual time is even less because some portion of their time is spent reviewing parole revocations, of which there were 6,381 in that fiscal year which is not an insignificant number and obviously requires a lot of time.
As we set out in our book, a link to which appears below, the fact that there is so little time available for a board member to learn about an offender makes the parole packet even more important. The parole packet and its contents, including support letters, allows an offender to set themselves out from the other files in a way that is both favorable and humanizes them.
A Texas parole attorney can be a great help and prepare the parole packet. However, the parole packets basically follow a form, with some personalization, and much of the leg work done to find the items to be included in the packet are done by the family and loved ones anyway. For those who can't afford an attorney or choose not to spend thousands of dollars on one, access to the right information can allow them to prepare the packet themselves.
All of this, as well as instructions and forms explaining how to prepare a parole packet in Texas, and available in our book How to Prepare a Texas Parole Presentation Package, available as an instantly available download or as a package including both an instantly available download and a printed copy. The printed copy can be sent wherever you choose including directly from us to someone in a Texas prison.
So the answer to whether it is necessary to hire a Texas parole lawyer?
It's not required. But it makes it easier on you.