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Parole Case Example

NOTE: This case example is a fictitious person. It does not depict any actual person or event. For the purpose of this example, the individual has been named John.

A crime is committed. The suspect is over 18. There is sufficient evidence for an arrest. The suspect is arrested. The suspect is charged with the crime and prosecuted.  At the conclusion of the trial, the accused is found guilty. The convicted offender serves his state sentence at a state correctional institution (SCI) or county jail.

The Arrest and Conviction of John

John was 21 when he was arrested for entering an apartment without consent and attacking his victim. John is convicted of burglary and aggravated assault. He is sentenced to 4 years and 6 months to 10 years. His minimum sentence date (MIN) was November 28, 2013 and his maximum sentence date (MAX) was May 28, 2019.

The sentencing process can be a complicated process to understand. MIN… MAX… Original sentence…What does it all mean? More details about sentencing are explained in this sentencing information fact sheet. (pdf) For more detailed information on sentencing, please visit the website of the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing.

John arrives at state prison

John was admitted to the Diagnostic and Classification Center. For male incarcerated individuals, this is the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill. For females, it is the State Correctional Institution at Muncy. The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) conducted a battery of assessments:

  • Risk Screen Tool (RST) - risk of reoffending and program indicator
  • Criminal Sentiments Scale-Modified (CSS-M) –measures criminal attitudes
  • Texas Christian University Drug Screen (TCU) – substance abuse treatment
  • Personality Assessment Inventory – guides future clinical interviews and programming, including violence indicator
  • Psychological Assessment Interview – screen for clinical pathology and risk and mental health issues
  • Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE)

DOC Programs

The DOC delivers cognitive behavioral programming to address treatment needs that have been proven to reduce recidivism.

  • Thinking for Change – addresses criminal thinking
  • Violence prevention – low, moderate and high intensity
  • Batter’s intervention – addresses domestic violence
  • Sexual offender programming – low and moderate/high
  • Drug and alcohol treatment – based on TCU score (outpatient or therapeutic community)

John’s Assessments

The results of John’s assessment were:

No mental health needs | Low CSSM – criminal attitudes | High RST- risk; Low TCU - drug screen | High LSI-R – risk and needs | Did not attain 12th grade education | Prior parole failure

DOC Programs

While incarcerated, the DOC delivers cognitive behavioral programming to address treatment needs. John's rehabilitative needs were:
Violence Prevention Moderate Intensity (includes Thinking for a Change) | Employed as barber in prison | Obtain GED

Things for John to remember as his parole interview with the PA Board of Probation and Parole (Board) approached…

He was convicted in a court of law. The DOC and the Board cannot change his conviction. Both agencies are required to make decisions based on his conviction. John needed to start planning for his reentry back to the community, complete his programming and avoid any misconducts.

There is no right to parole in Pennsylvania. It’s the Board’s job to determine whether John deserves to be on parole for any part of his sentence between his MIN and MAX dates. The Board’s main consideration is whether or not his risk to reoffend is reduced and that he has demonstrated his future ability to function as a law-abiding citizen.

The MIN date represents the minimum amount of time he must be incarcerated. He becomes eligible for parole release when he has served his MIN sentence. When he is released on parole, the date might be the same date as the MIN date, or soon after it. The Board Decision that grants parole will state “granted parole ON OR AFTER [date].”

8 months prior to John’s MIN Date…

The DOC and the Board work together to gather information for the parole interview. To do so, they gather the following information to consider:

  • The nature/circumstances of the crime you were convicted
  • The entire criminal history including any juvenile arrests or adjudications
  • Information regarding a person's general character and personal background
  • Sentencing hearing testimony notes
  • Physical, mental, and behavioral condition and history
  • History of family violence (if any)
  • Judge and district attorney letters sent for input on their recommendation
  • Office of Victim Advocate notifies victim for input from the victim and the victim’s family (if any)
  • The recommendation from the warden or superintendent of the facility where the offender was incarcerated
  • Facts of crime and sentencing hearing notes
  • Misconduct record
  • DOC/warden recommendation

4 months prior to John’s MIN date, the parole interview is held…

John was interviewed in prison in August 2013. Board Members have prepared for the interview by reviewing his file. John is interviewed by two Board Members – one in person at the correctional facility and one via video conference. John’s case was a violent case requiring two decision makers to interview him. If the vote was a split decision, the case would go to a third Board Member.  Certain violent cases require a vote by a majority of the Board.

John is a:
Violence Category 2 – Violent offense with no violent history | LSI-R score of 7 - high risk

John received no misconducts. He was in compliance and participating in his programming, but his programming was not completed.

3 months prior to John’s MIN date…

John receives his Board Action (formerly known as a green sheet). (pdf) The Board Action is the official, written decision issued by the Board to either grant or deny parole following the parole interview/hearing. John is granted parole on or after November 28, 2013, his MIN sentencing date. In the Board Action, the reasons listed by the Board for granting parole were:

  • Accepted responsibility (for his crimes)
  • Recommendation of DOC
  • Involved in programming
  • Placement in a community corrections center

Before John is released from the state correctional institution, there are a number of “checklist items” that he must complete before he may be released. The list of potential items to be completed before release and other parole release topics are in this parole release fact sheet. (pdf)

John’s conditions of parole

In addition to the general conditions of parole (pdf) that applied to John, he also needed to comply with these special conditions of parole:

  • Paroled on or after November 28, 2013 to community corrections center (CCC). While incarcerated, John submitted a home plan but his request by the landlord was denied. John is to be paroled on or after November 28 to a CCC as he continues to work on another home plan.
  • Maintain employment/training/schooling
  • No contact with persons who sell or use drugs outside of a treatment setting
  • Subject to drug testing and must pay for tests
  • Cannot enter establishments that sell alcohol
  • No contact with victim in any manner
  • No contact with associates or co-defendants
  • Wage attachment for court ordered financial obligations

John is released

John signs his release orders and conditions of parole and leaves the state correctional institution. He must report to a parole office or CCC within 24 hours. John meets with his assigned agent within 5 days. They review his initial supervision plan. The supervision plan addresses John’s risks for reoffending and his needs to help him be successful on parole. This supervision plan is re-assessed every year and, for special circumstances, can be examined at six months. A visit to his approved home plan occurs within 10 days.

John violates parole

​While still at the CCC, John commits several center violations by signing out for work but failing to report to work. John’s parole agent work collaboratively with CCC staff.  On his first violation John receives a written warning. John later commits a second violation and his parole agent places him on GPS. A week later, John has a positive urine for synthetic drugs. On February 6, 2014, John is unsuccessfully discharged from the CCC by the Bureau of Community Corrections (BCC) staff.  John’s parole agent submits a referral to BCC and he is placed in inpatient drug and alcohol treatment.

John is transported to an inpatient drug and alcohol program. Within three days, John was found with K2 (synthetic marijuana) in his pocket and refused to be searched by staff.

An expedited removal of John is requested by inpatient staff to his parole agent to remove him to a parole violator center (PVC). John is informed of his rights. He is given a Notice of Charges against him, which includes being unsuccessfully discharged from the CCC and inpatient treatment. A preliminary hearing on John’s case will be held within 14 days. John chooses to waive his rights to a preliminary hearing. While at the PVC, John was noncompliant with programming and had aggressive behavior toward staff.

John’s technical violation hearing

At the violation hearing, the parole agent provides the evidence. The CCC discharge summary is provided: John had been signing out to go to work but was not reporting to work. The Board’s hearing examiner finds John in violation based on this evidence: John’s own admission of signing out for work but not going to work and also the CCC records that showed the dates, times and John’s signatures. The hearing examiner recommits John to state prison because of the violation, early parole failure and his previous parole failure from a separate sentence. The hearing examiner also considered that John was an identifiable threat because of his unmanageable behavior when the Board diverted him to parole violator center. John is recommitted to state prison for up to six months. The parole agent then transports John to the designated SCI.

So what happened to John?

John follows the rules while in the SCI and remains eligible for automatic reparole. John is automatically reparoled in six months. He signs his release orders and leaves prison. John reports to his designated parole district office within 24 hours of his release. The Board’s prior conditions of parole still apply to John. John served the remainder of his court-imposed sentence and successfully maxed out his sentence on May 28, 2019.