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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: WHAT DO INMATES NEED TO DO TO PREPARE FOR PAROLE? WHAT INFORMATION SHOULD A PAROLE PACKAGE INCLUDE?

A: The parole package should consist of an appropriate home and job plan, a personal letter written by the inmate, letters of support from family members and friends in the community, certificates from any completed programs, and any plans for treatment in the community. Medical records may also be included if the inmate has any medical or mental health issues that may influence the Board’s decision.

The parole package should be submitted to the Parole Board at least one month before the actual hearing date. The inmate can mail the parole package directly to the Parole Board or the inmate can submit it to the institutional counselor when the inmate is called to complete the parole report. If the inmate is unable to get the package to the Board within the appropriate time frame, the Parole Board will accept documents at the parole hearing.

If the inmate is applying for an out-of-state parole, they will need to include the same information as stated above. If the inmate is granted parole, the institutional counselor will call the inmate to fill out an out-of-state parole application form. The application gives the other state permission to investigate the inmate home and job plan and gives them access to the inmate records from RI.

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Q: WHY DOES THE PAROLE BOARD WANT A PERSONAL LETTER? WHAT INFORMATION SHOULD I BE INCLUDING IN THIS LETTER?

A: Personal letters are a good way for the inmate to communicate with the Parole Board before the hearing. Many inmates become nervous during the hearing and may later feel they left something out or forgot to say something important to the Board Members.

It is important for the inmate to write his/her own letter. The Parole Board Members want to hear from the inmate directly, in his/her own words. The letter is not judged on spelling and grammar. The letter should not be more than two pages and should include the following information:

  • An ability to take responsibility for the crime
  • What insight and remorse the inmate has about the crime and the criminal behavior in general
  • What steps the inmate has taken to change attitudes and behavior
  • What plans the inmate has for the future

The Parole Board will not allow the inmate to read the letter to them during the hearing to avoid answering the Board’s questions.

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Q: WHAT INFORMATION IS THE PAROLE BOARD LOOKING FOR IN LETTERS OF SUPPORT?

A: The Parole Board accepts support letters from family members, friends, clergy, counselors who have previously worked with the inmate in the community or who will be working with the inmate in the community in the future, and any other interested parties. The Parole Board is looking for evidence of a stable support system for the inmate once released into the community. Letters should indicate the level of support available to the inmate from the person writing the letter.

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Q: WHAT INFORMATION NEEDS TO BE INCLUDED IN THE HOME LETTER?

A: a responsible person who is offering the inmate the opportunity to reside at their house or apartment must provide an up-to-date home letter. The home letter needs to include the following information:

  • The person’s name
  • The street address, including city and zip code
  • The current home phone number
  • The names of any other individuals living in the household, including children
  • Whether or not the home is owned or rented

There are some types of housing developments that do not allow anyone with a criminal record or certain types of charges to reside in their units. These restrictions usually apply to HUD developments and Section 8 housing. If the inmate submits a home plan seeking to live in one of these areas, the home plan may be rejected.

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Q: WHAT IF AN INMATE OWNS HIS/HER OWN HOME? CAN THEY LIVE THERE ALONE?

A: If the inmate owns his/her own home or is currently renting an apartment, the inmate will need to submit proof to the Parole Board. If the inmate has valid proof of tenancy or ownership, the inmate will be allowed to live there on parole.

Q: CAN AN INMATE LIVE WITH A FAMILY MEMBER OR FRIEND WHO HAS A CRIMINAL RECORD?

A: An inmate cannot live with another convicted felon unless that person is a member of the inmate’s immediate family (mother, father, spouse, brother, sister, son, or daughter). When the inmate’s home plan is being investigated, all individuals residing in the household will have criminal background checks done. Based on the results of the criminal background checks, the inmate may not be able to reside at the proposed residence.

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Q: WHAT INFORMATION NEEDS TO BE INCLUDED IN A JOB LETTER?

A: An up-to-date job letter from an employer must be submitted to the Parole Board. The Parole Board understands that it is very difficult to find employment while incarcerated, but it is the inmate’s responsibility to find employment prior to release. The inmate’s institutional counselor cannot help the inmate find employment. The inmate may want to ask family members or friends for help in this area by contacting employers to see if they are willing to hire ex-offenders. The inmate may also want to consider contacting any past employers to see if they would consider re-hiring him/her if released on parole.

A job letter should include the following information on dated company letterhead:

  • The name of the company
  • The street address of the company, including city and zip code
  • The business phone number
  • The name of the person offering the inmate a position at the company
  • The name of the person who will be supervising the inmate
  • The type of work the inmate will be doing
  • The number of hours the inmate will be working each week

If the letter is not on company letterhead, the letter must be notarized.

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Q: WHAT TYPES OF JOBS ARE ACCEPTABLE TO THE PAROLE BOARD?

A: One parole is granted, the Parole Unit will investigate the employment offer the inmate had submitted to the Parole Board. All employers are subject to criminal background checks. The inmate may not work for an employer who is currently under some form of sentence or under community supervision. The inmate may be allowed to work at the same job site as other parolees, but the inmate may not be supervised by another parolee or may not supervise another parolee.

All work must be “on the books” and taxes must be withheld. The inmate may not work “under the table”. The inmate may work for a family member as long as all work is “on the books”. If an inmate is self-employed, he/she must show proof of licensure, paid taxes, or independent contracts. The inmate must work a minimum of 40 hours per week while on parole. The inmate can work at more than one job to amount to 40 hours. If an inmate is attending school full-time, he/she may still be required to work part-time. If an inmate is collecting SSI benefits, he/she may still be required to work part-time. SSI allows recipients to make up to $830.00 per month and still qualify for full benefits. If an inmate is completely disabled and unable to work, he/she may be required to do a minimum of 20 hours per week of community service.

Some job sites may be unacceptable for an individual on parole. Depending on the nature of the crime, parolees may not be allowed to work at a location serving alcohol or a location with gambling, such as a casino or racetrack. Some individuals will not be allowed to work with school age children. The Parole Board will make the final decision on what types of employment are acceptable or not acceptable.

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Q: HOW CAN AN INMATE BE PAROLED TO ANOTHER STATE?

A: Rhode Island does participate in the Interstate Compact on Probationers and Parolees, therefore the Interstate Compact Office will forward requests to other states for parolees who want to reside in and be supervised in another state.

Once granted parole, the inmate will fill out an Interstate Compact application with an institutional counselor. Upon receiving the application, the other state will complete an investigation and make a determination as to whether or not the inmate plan is acceptable. This process generally takes a minimum of 90 days. Rhode Island has no control over how long this application process takes. Sole responsibility for the investigation process lies with the receiving state. The inmate will have to be patient during this process. The institutional counselor will not contact the other state, and the inmate should not have family members contact the other state on the inmate’s behalf during his process. Once accepted, the inmate will receive a set of reporting instructions or detailed directions on what to do and where to go upon arrival in the supervising state.

If the inmate is granted parole and is released in Rhode Island, and subsequently decides to transfer supervision to another state, he/she will need to contact the parole/probation officer. The parole/probation officer will assist the parolee with filling out the Interstate application and the same procedures noted above will be followed.

There is a $40.00 fee for processing an Interstate Compact application. The inmate will not have to pay the $40.00 at the time of application. After release, the parolee will receive a bill for $40.00 that will have to be paid immediately.

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Q: WHAT IF THERE IS AN IMMIGRATION DETAINER OR A DETAINER FROM ANOTHER STATE?

A. The Parole Board will consider releasing an inmate to a detainer, if the inmate has met all the requirements of parole. For example, if an inmate has a drug addiction or is convicted of a drug crime, he/she will still be mandated to complete a substance abuse treatment prior to being paroled to a detainer. The Board will however, require that parolee surrender himself or herself to the Parole Unit when and if released from the detainer.

Q: WHAT IF AN INMATE WANTS TO BE PAROLED TO A TREATMENT PROGRAM

A. The Parole Board will consider requests from inmates to be paroled to residential treatment programs. Prior to being granted parole to a residential substance abuse program, an inmate must complete a drug or alcohol program at the ACI. Likewise, parole to a residential sex offender treatment program will only be granted to active participants in the ACI Sexual Offender Treatment Program. The Board is aware that due to a lack of available programs, the wait for residential treatment may be long. The Board factors this wait time into their decision to release and when.

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Q: DOES AN INMATE NEED AN ATTORNEY FOR THE PAROLE HEARING?

A: Inmates do not need to be represented at the initial parole hearing or at any reconsideration hearing. Many inmates do choose to have legal representation when they are uncomfortable speaking on their own behalf. Others choose to have legal representation because they believe that there are mitigating circumstances that an attorney could better explain to the Parole Board. Be advised that even if the inmate is represented by an attorney, the inmate will still have to answer questions from the Parole Board. While the Parole Board does allow attorneys to be present at hearings, the Board does not allow attorneys to speak for the inmate. The Parole Board wants to weigh the inmate’s insight and level of remorse and they will only be able to do so by hearing directly from the inmate. Having an attorney present does not provide the inmate with a better chance of getting a positive parole decision.

If the inmate is granted parole but returns to the ACI as a parole violator, held on a detention warrant, the inmate will be entitled to have an attorney present at both the preliminary hearing and the violation hearing pursuant to Morrissey v. Brewer.

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Q: WHAT KINDS OF QUESTIONS WILL BE ASKED DURING THE PAROLE HEARING?

A: When an inmate goes before the Parole Board, he/she will be asked questions about the facts of the crime. The Board expects the inmate to give an honest and truthful version of the events of the crime. The inmate may be asked anything the Board finds relevant to the inmate’s case. The inmate will be asked what he/she has done to change his/her behavior and about plans. The inmate will be asked about his/her institutional behavior as well. The Board Members will use the answers to these questions to access the inmate’s honesty, insight and remorse.

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Q: CAN AN INMATE MAKE PAROLE AFTER A RECENT BOOKING?

A: The Parole Board has a very strict policy that inmates must be booking free for a minimum of six months in order to receive serious parole consideration. If an inmate is in segregation at the time of the scheduled reconsideration hearing, the inmate will automatically be denied parole and given a three-month review date. If an inmate scheduled for an initial hearing is in segregation, he/she will be seen by the Board. It may be in the inmate’s best interest to waive the parole hearing if recently booked.

Q: DOES THE PAROLE BOARD KNOW WHEN AN INMATE IS BACK IN PRISON SERVING VIOLATION TIME WITHOUT BEING SENTENCED ON NEW CHARGES?

A: The Parole Board researches each case prior to the date of the parole hearing. They collect police reports and other documentation about the inmate’s case. If an inmate is serving on violation time, the Parole Board will have information about both the underlying crime and the incident that triggered the probation violation.

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Q: WHAT CAN AN INMATE DO IF THE PAROLE BOARD WANTS HIM/HER IN A LOWER SECURITY BUT THE RISK ASSESSMENT SCORE IS TOO HIGH TO BE CLASSIFIED AS SUCH?

A: The Parole Board will often recommend that an inmate “move through the system” and get to a lower security when the next reconsideration hearing is held. While the Parole Board does not dictate what security an inmate is classified to, they often recommend that inmates be moved. This allows the Parole Board to make a better assessment of the inmate for release back into the community. The Parole Board Members are aware of the classification system in use at the Department of Corrections and they do take that into consideration when making recommendations.

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Q: IF AN INMATE MAKES PAROLE, HOW LONG WILL THE PAROLE SUPERVISION PERIOD BE?

A: If an inmate is granted parole, he/she will be under the Parole Board’s jurisdiction until the expiration of the inmate’s sentence. The good time date is calculated prior to the inmates release and is placed on the parole permit. If the inmate has to remain at the ACI for a substantial period of time awaiting release after the parole permit has been signed, this date may be recalculated. The inmate will not continue to earn good time while on parole. Rhode Island does not have a provision for early release from parole, so the inmate will remain on parole for the entire sentence for time to serve. If the inmate violates any of the conditions of parole and parole is revoked, any time the inmate already served on parole will be added back on to the end of the inmate sentence.

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Q: IF AN INMATE MAKES PAROLE WHO WILL BE HIS/HER PAROLE OFFICER?

A: The parolee will be assigned a Parole Officer shortly before release. The Parole Unit Supervisor, who is a Department of Corrections employee, not a Parole Board staff member, will make all assignments. Parole Officers are usually assigned based on where the parolee will be living. Additionally, there are some specialized units that deal with specific criminal offenses. The parolee may be assigned to a specialized unit based on the nature of the crime or any special conditions the Board has imposed.