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Parole Process for Victims

Parole Process for Victims

This section is designed to help victims of parole-eligible inmates understand the parole process, and show them how to share their concerns with the Parole Board Members.

The General Laws of Rhode Island (12-28-6) specifically gives victims the opportunity to address the Parole Board regarding the impact of the crime.

The Parole Process

According to the state laws, most inmates are eligible for a parole hearing after serving one third of a court ordered sentence to the Adult Correctional Institution (ACI). That means one third of the sentence is to be served only, not the suspended portion of the sentence, with three years to serve, and three years suspended with probation supervision, the inmate is eligible for parole after completing one year of the sentence. Staff at the ACI compute parole eligibility dates and notify the Parole Board Office of those inmates who should be provided parole hearings. When we receive this notice, staff at the Parole Board Office begin to assemble a file of information on each inmate. Various agencies contribute information to these files, including the Attorney General’s office, the local and state police departments, the courts, and the Department of Corrections. Letters from family, friends, victims, employers, and others are also included in these files.

After all the necessary information is gathered it is provided to each of the Parole Board Members.

It is reviewed by the members prior to any meetings with victims and interviews with inmates. The victim’s meetings are held before any hearings with inmates. Neither the inmate nor the inmate’s attorney is present at the victim meeting. If a victim is unavailable or unwilling to appear at the scheduled meeting, a letter may be sent to the Parole Board Office.

Victim Input

Input from victims is very important to the Parole Board’s decision making process. It helps the Board to understand and appreciate the effects of the crime and on the victims. Testimony from victims oftentimes provides information that might otherwise not be available.

The hearing affords victims the opportunity to ask the Board questions. In this way the victims gain a better understanding of the parole process and the prison system. If an inmate is granted parole release, the victim’s point of view has played an important part in shaping the conditions of that parole.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Q: If an inmate is eligible by law for a parole hearing, is he/she automatically granted parole release?
    A: NO. Most inmates are denied parole release after their first application.

  2. Q: Is an inmate given another opportunity to apply to the Board for Parole release?
    A: YES. After the first hearing the Board votes on a date when it will reconsider an inmate’s application for parole. Reconsideration hearings are usually set at 6, 12, 18, or 24-month intervals.

  3. Q: Will the victim be notified again of the scheduled meeting?
    A: YES. The victim will again receive notification by mail and may again address the Board about the inmate’s possible parole release.

  4. Q: How does the Board arrive at its decision?
    A: After reviewing the file materials, meeting with the victims, and then the inmate, the Board deliberates and votes whether to parole or deny parole according to a variety of criteria set by law.

  5. Q: How does the victim and the inmate receive notice of the decision?
    A: The inmate is provided a written notice through his/her prison counselor. The victim receives a letter if parole is granted. The victim may either request to be notified by telephone by the Victim Services Advocate, or the victim may telephone the Parole Board Office the day after the inmate is interviewed for the final decision.
    TEL. (401) 462-0900

  6. Q: What factors are considered by the Board when determining its decision?
    A: Many factors are taken into consideration such as the seriousness of the offense, length of the sentence, prior criminal record, prison behavior, program involvement, proposed release plans, attitude, behavioral changes, community safety, concerns of families, friends, victims, and others.

  7. Q: What are Parole Guidelines?
    A: The Guidelines are established by the Board in accordance with state statute in order to assist the Board in the decision making process. In most cases, the more serious offender is expected to serve one half (1/2) or two thirds (2/3) of his/her sentence before receiving serious parole consideration. The guideline will vary depending on the severity of the crime.

  8. Q: Does the Board have any authority over inmate classification, or whether an inmate may participate in Work Release, or be granted a furlough while he/she is serving a prison sentence?
    A: NO. These decisions are made by the Department of Corrections.

  9. Q: Does the Board have the authority to set special restrictions on a parolee?
    A: YES. The Board may impose special parole conditions such as mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, sexual offenders treatment, home confinement, and others.

  10. Q: What happens if the parolee does not follow the parole conditions?
    A: If a parolee is rearrested on a new criminal charge or violates any of his/her parole conditions, the Board can issue a warrant for his/her arrest. The inmate will be apprehended and returned to the ACI where he/she will wait for a violation hearing before the board.

  11. Q: Who sits on the Parole Board?
    A: The Parole Board is made up of six part-time members appointed by the Governor to 3-year terms. They are selected in accordance with state law from various professionals and such as law enforcement, social work, medicine, and law. The seventh member is a full-time chairperson appointed to a two-year term.

  12. Q: Why is an inmate eligible for parole so soon?
    A: A person convicted of a crime receives a sentence from the court based on the nature of the crime, any prior criminal record, and other factors presented to the court. That sentence represents the maximum amount of time the offender will fall within the jurisdiction of the correctional system.

When an inmate arrives at the Adult Correctional Institution to serve part of his/her sentence, staff there use laws, regulations, and mathematical formulas to determine at what point an initial parole hearing should be scheduled.

It is sometimes shocking for the public to learn that an inmate who may have received a 10-year sentence is scheduled for a parole hearing in just a few years. It is important to remember that the inmate will not be released on parole until it has been determined that he/she is a good parole risk. The inmate must show that a positive change in behavior has taken place and that the likelihood of him/her committing another crime is reduced.

Please contact the Parole Board Office if you wish to report a name or address change.

If you have any questions or need additional information you may telephone the Parole Board Office at:

TEL: (401) 462-0900
FAX: (401) 462-0915

Varley Building
40 Howard Avenue
Cranston, RI 02920