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Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics

Appendix 5

Annual Report of the U.S. Parole Commission

Parole guidelines and definitions of terms

Note: The following information was excerpted from the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Parole Commission, Parole Commission Procedure Manual (28 C.F.R. 2.1-2.67), [Online]. Available: [Aug. 26, 1998]; and information provided by the U.S. Parole Commission. Non-substantive editorial adaptations have been made.

Parole guidelines

Initial parole consideration--The U.S. Parole Commission has adopted guidelines for parole release considerations. These guidelines indicate the customary range of time to be served before release for various combinations of offense (severity) and offender (parole prognosis) characteristics. The time ranges specified by the guidelines are established specifically for cases with good institutional adjustment and program progress. These time ranges are merely guidelines. Where the circumstances warrant, decisions outside the guidelines (either above or below) may be rendered. The guidelines partition offense characteristics into eight severity categories. Category 1 represents the least severe and category 8 the most severe offense behavior. Mitigating or aggravating circumstances in a particular case may justify a decision or severity rating different from that listed.

An evaluation sheet containing a salient factor score serves as an aid in determining parole prognosis (potential risk of parole violation). A salient factor score is calculated by summing the offender's score on each of the following items: number of prior convictions and adjudications, number of prior commitments of more than 30 days duration, age at current offense, commitment of more than 30 days duration within the past 3 years, probation/parole/escape status violator at time of current offense, and heroin/opiate dependence.

Reparole consideration--An offender whose parole is revoked is eligible to be considered for reparole. If revocation is based upon an administrative violation only, i.e., a violation not involving new criminal conduct, the behavior is graded as a category 1 offense and the salient factor score recalculated. If a finding is made that the prisoner has engaged in behavior constituting new criminal conduct, the appropriate severity rating for the new criminal behavior is calculated. New criminal conduct may be determined either by a new Federal, State, or local conviction or by an independent finding by the U.S. Parole Commission at a revocation hearing. If the criminal conduct is in violation of State or local law the appropriate severity level is determined by analogy with the listed Federal offense severity ratings and the salient factor score is recalculated. Time served on a new State or Federal sentence is counted as time in custody for reparole guideline purposes.

Definitions of terms

Curfew parole record reviews--The Special Curfew Parole Program involves parole supervision with a special curfew parole condition to provide a substitute for Community Treatment Center residence for the 60-day period preceding the otherwise scheduled parole, mandatory release, or two-thirds date. This program is designed for prisoners who would otherwise qualify for Community Treatment Center residence during this period but who have acceptable release plans and do not require the support services provided by the Community Treatment Center.

Dispositional review/revocation-- When a parolee is serving a new sentence in a Federal, State, or local institution, a parole violation warrant may be placed against him as a detainer. If the prisoner is serving a new sentence in a Federal institution, a revocation hearing shall be scheduled within 120 days of notification of placement of the detainer, or as soon thereafter as practicable, provided the prisoner is eligible for and has applied for an initial hearing on the new sentence, or is serving a new sentence of 1 year or less. If the prisoner is serving a new sentence in a State or local institution, the violation warrant shall be reviewed by the regional commissioner not later than 180 days following notification to the Commission of such placement. The parolee shall receive notice of the pending review, and shall be permitted to submit a written application containing information relative to the disposition of the warrant. The parolee shall also be notified of the right to request counsel to assist him/her in completing this written application.

Initial hearing--The initial parole hearing for eligible prisoners, during which examiners discuss with the prisoner his/her offense severity rating, salient factor score, institutional conduct, and any other matter the panel may deem relevant.

Following an initial hearing, the Commission shall (1) set a presumptive release date (either by parole or by mandatory release) within 15 years of the hearing; (2) set an effective date of parole; or (3) continue the prisoner to a 15-year reconsideration hearing pursuant to 28 C.F.R. 2.14(c).

Local or institutional revocation hearing--A parolee may request a revocation hearing reasonably near the place of the alleged violation or arrest if the following conditions are met: (1) the parolee has not been convicted of a crime committed while under supervision; and (2) the parolee denies violation of conditions of release. A parolee who voluntarily waives his/her right to a local revocation hearing, or who admits any violation of the conditions of his/her release, or who is retaken following a conviction of a new crime, shall be given a revocation hearing upon his/her return to a Federal institution. However, the regional commissioner may, on his/her own motion, designate a case for a local revocation hearing.

One-third hearing--Covered under 28 C.F.R. 2.14(e) (1976) until it was phased out. The section provided that a prisoner sentenced to a maximum term of more than 18 months under 18 U.S.C. 4205(b)(2), 18 U.S.C. 294, or 26 U.S.C. 5871, could not be continued past one-third of the maximum sentence. The one-third hearing was phased out after implementation of presumptive date procedures in September 1977.

Pre-hearing record reviews--A review of the prisoner's case file by an examiner preceding a regularly scheduled institutional review hearing. If the recommendation is to grant parole, and the regional commissioner concurs, no in-person hearing is conducted. Pre-hearing record reviews (28 C.F.R. 2.14(b)(1976)) were replaced by presumptive date record reviews.

Rescission hearing--If a prisoner has an effective date of parole set by the Commission, and has subsequently been charged with institutional misconduct sufficient to become a matter of record, or is alleged to have committed a new criminal act, a rescission hearing may be scheduled at which time parole may be rescinded or retarded.

Retroactive record review--A special type of consideration resulting from a revision of the parole decision guidelines. For more information see 28 C.F.R., Appendix 6.

Review hearing--Subsequent parole hearing intended to focus on developments or changes in the prisoner's status; replaced by the statutory interim hearing.

Statutory review hearings--Replaced by statutory interim hearings. The purpose of the "interim hearing" is to consider any significant developments or changes that may have occurred subsequent to the initial hearing. Following the interim hearing, the presumptive release date that had been set may remain unchanged, be advanced for superior program achievement or other clearly exceptional circumstances, or be retarded or rescinded for reason of disciplinary infractions.

Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics