On October 19, 2017, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Department of Corrections (DOC) and the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (Parole Board) resulted in the combining of the agencies' similar, shared and overlapping resources and functions.
Under the MOU, both agencies remained separate from each other. Community supervision of parolees and all other reentry services were combined under a new, centralized chain of command that everyone in those areas reported to and now follow with the DOC. The MOU involved reentry tasks, such as but not limited to inmate/parolee records, inmate/parolee reentry planning, parolee placement and supervision and parole violation management and return process.
The Board has paroling authority over sentences with a maximum date of two or more years that are served in state correctional institutions under the jurisdiction of the DOC. A maximum sentence less than two years is a county sentence and county parole.
There is no right to parole under state or federal law. Parole decisions in Pennsylvania are not subject to judicial review unless the prisoner asserts a constitutional challenge to the denial of parole or seeks a writ of mandamus to compel the Board to exercise its discretion. The Board does not have the authority to parole from sentences of life imprisonment or death.
The Board frequently clarifies the misunderstanding that the minimum sentence date is the parole release date. Public perception is they are one and the same. It is crucial that all incarcerated individuals in Pennsylvania understand the minimum sentence date represents the minimum amount of time a person must be incarcerated under DOC’s control. An inmate becomes eligible for parole release after they have served their minimum sentence.
Additionally, an inmate’s family and friends mistakenly believe after their loved one has been granted parole, they are immediately released. This is not the case as a positive Board Action (Board decision/“green sheet”) triggers numerous other events that must take place before the inmate is released on parole.
Parole-based information included in this section is designed to help navigate the often difficult to understand parole process.