How Do I File a Petition to Get Off Parole in Texas?

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As part of their sentence, an inmate may serve parole, a supervised program that allows the individual to reenter the community. They must abide by its terms in order to fulfill their sentence. A person wishing to shorten their parole can only do so if their parole officer recommends it.

Parole Laws in Texas

Inmates released from jail before their sentences end may serve parole. This means they are under supervision in the community instead of serving time in a correctional facility. Offenders on parole are known as parolees. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles decides who receives parole and what the conditions of their sentence will be. Parolees must abide by the terms of their release; if they don't, parole revocation is imminent and they'll end up back in jail.

Prison inmates serving time for a criminal conviction can receive parole, but there are exceptions to this rule. Some convictions aren't eligible while others are, but only after an extended period of time. For example, inmates serving death sentences, life in prison without the possibility of parole, and sentences for committing repeated sexual abuse of a minor are not eligible for parole.

Parole Eligibility Dates

The date on which an inmate will become eligible for parole depends on their original sentence. Typically, eligibility occurs when the time they have served added to good conduct time equals either 15 years, or 25 percent of their sentence. If an inmate's conviction is a 3G offense – child sexual assault, aggravated robbery, murder or intoxicated manslaughter – they can become eligible only if they:

  • Serve a minimum of two years in jail.
  • Do not receive good time credits for time already served.
  • Serve a minimum of half of their jail sentence.

Capital murder offenders can only get parole after serving 40 years in jail. Those convicted of the following felony offenses will receive eligibility after serving 35 years:

  • Aggravated kidnapping with the intent to commit sexual abuse.
  • Habitation burglary with the intent to commit a felony.
  • Aggravated sexual assault.
  • Indecency with a child.

Parole Process in Texas

To decide if a person will be granted parole, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles holds a hearing regarding the inmate just before their eligibility release date approaches. Before the hearing, the board sends a notice of the hearing date to the inmate, the victim or their family, and the inmate's attorneys and other trial officials. A parole officer interviews the offender and prepares the case before the hearing. The inmate does not have a right to attend the hearing, but they can send their defense attorney, who will explain why the board should grant the inmate's release.

Three people officiate at the hearing, and it takes just two votes for the board members to decide the offender's fate – either to grant or to deny parole. The board will consider how severe the offense is; the offender's criminal record; the time served; any letters supporting the offender's release; and accounts of their behavior in jail. If the decision is to deny parole, the board can revisit the decision in their next review or refuse another meeting altogether. If the board grants parole to the inmate, it will list the conditions of release they must meet and outline these terms in the release plan. Some common conditions of parole are:

  • Maintain employment.
  • Maintain a residence.
  • Avoid criminal activity.
  • Avoid contact with crime victims.
  • Refrain from using drugs and alcohol.
  • Attend substance abuse meetings.
  • Stay in specified geographic area unless they have permission from a parole officer to leave.

Early Release From Parole Supervision

Under a typical parole system, the parolee is assigned a parole officer and must meet with that officer periodically. The parole officer may also make unannounced visits to the parolee's home to check that the parolee is truly abiding by the relevant conditions. Unannounced visits let the officer observe whether, for example, there is evidence of parole violations like drug use.

If a parolee wishes to get off parole early, they cannot petition for release from parole supervision. Parole review occurs only if their parole officer recommends it. The parolee must be currently supervised with a minimum of 50 percent left to serve on their sentence and not have any parole violations for the past two years.

Reduction of Sentence in Texas

A commutation reduces an inmate's sentence, which the board may grant for time served. It occurs only upon the letter of recommendation from trial officials in the county where the conviction took place. The letter will state that the parole term now seems excessive and will recommend that the offender serve less time based on whatever new information they have. To apply for an early release, an applicant must fill out a Commutation of Sentence Application and submit these documents with their application:

  • Certified court documentation, such as an indictment, judgment or sentence.
  • Arrest reports, which do not need certification.
  • Written recommendations from most of the current trial officials that show compliance with the board's rules.

Parole Hearing Vote

Parole panel members each cast votes recommending or denying the request. For the recommendation to move forward to the governor's office, at least 10 board members must vote in favor. It can take considerable time – sometimes weeks or months – for all board members to vote.

If most of the board's votes are negative, that ends the commutation effort. The commutation request moves to the governor's desk only if the board casts more positive votes than negative votes. Either way, the board will notify the applicant of its final parole decision.