How Often Do Parole Hearings Occur?

Usually, parole hearings are annual events for eligible inmates.

Usually, after inmates serve a third of their sentences, the Parole Board considers individual cases at least once a year. Since the early 1980s, Georgia’s prison population has increased by a staggering 329%. That increase is well above the national average. Prison capacity has expanded as well since the early 1980s. But it has not expanded nearly that much. Controversial private prisons now house many more inmates, so they make up some of the difference. However, for the most part, state lawmakers have expanded the parole system to deal with this increase.

An effective Atlanta criminal defense lawyer assists defendants before, during, and after their parole hearings. Most offenses have procedural and substantive defenses that a lawyer must identify and effectively present to the court or the prosecutor during plea negotiations. During parole hearings, attorneys know how to advocate for release. After parole hearings, attorneys help defendants avoid further supervision requirements and perhaps clean their criminal records.

Parole Eligibility

The Department of Corrections automatically reviews eligible inmates for parole. Ineligible inmates usually include LWOP (life without parole) inmates, non-lifers convicted of serious crimes, like rape and armed robbery, before 1995, and recidivists (at least four lifetime felony convictions).

The parole board has almost absolute discretion in these matters. Furthermore, there is no statutory formula the parole board must follow in terms of what factors to consider.

Many attorneys highlight an inmate’s “perfect” record. A flawless record may be a weakness instead of a strength. If the inmate has a perfect record, many parole board members view that as evidence that the system is working.

Other attorneys retry the offense, often focusing on extenuating circumstances. That strategy is usually ineffective as well. Parole board members are not judges, and they do not have the power to adjust sentences. Furthermore, parole board members and Judges alike almost never second-guess the sentencing court that reviewed all the facts.

Our Atlanta criminal defense attorneys often use a before-and-after approach at parole hearings. For example, an inmate may have overcome a substance abuse problem or made other significant life changes, like getting their high school diploma or GED.

The pre-parole investigation often plays an important role in the process. This investigation usually includes a DOC parole review summary, an inmate’s personal history statement, and a legal investigation.

Parole Violations and Early Discharge

Usually, parole conditions resemble probation conditions. Parolees must report to supervision officers and avoid further trouble with the law. Technical requirements also apply, such as remaining employed, updating an address, and remaining in a certain geographic area.

Truthfully, if a parolee violates a primary condition, there is little that an attorney can do. Attorneys can usually prevent re-incarceration in technical violation cases. Most parole officers are willing to give these inmates a chance to make things right.

Usually, the best defense is a good offense. Early parole termination is usually the best way to avoid parole violations. Most parolees are eligible for early release after they serve two years and demonstrate satisfactory, although not necessarily perfect, adjustment in society.

Record restriction or expungement is available in some cases. Furthermore, all inmates are eligible for an executive pardon, a process that is not as daunting as many people believe it is.

Connect With a Thorough Gwinnett County Criminal Defense Lawyer

Parole is an important part of the criminal justice system. For a free consultation with an experienced Norcross criminal defense lawyer, contact Zimmerman & Associates, Attorneys at Law.