Parole Release: Who is Eligible and When

DSC_0289Pursuant to Illinois law, all prison inmates are eligible for parole unless they have accepted a fixed release established by the Prison Review Board. The guidelines for determining eligibility for parole consideration are when a minimum term of an “indeterminate” as opposed to a “determinate” sentence has been served. A “determinate” prison sentence is a defined length of time to be served by the inmate and cannot be changed without executive clemency from the governor. Whereas, with an “indeterminate” sentence, there is a minimum time that the inmate will have to serve, but his release date may be earlier depending on what the Prison Review Board decides. Inmates may, after serving 20 years of a life sentence less any credit for good behavior, be released on parole. Inmates may also be released after serving one third of a “determinate” sentence less credit for good behavior. Persons serving a prison term of “natural life” are not eligible for parole.

What is the Prison Review Board?

The Illinois Prison Review Board is made up of 15 individuals appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the State Senate. The Board is responsible for reviewing inmates for potential release. They are also responsible for determining the conditions and restrictions of prisoner release. The Board will also review cases involving potential revocation of parole due to any violations of any conditions or restrictions imposed. The Board may also consider whether an inmate’s attitude or conduct deserves a reduction or suspension of good conduct credits.

Conditions of Parole

If it has been determine that you are eligible for parole, the following are examples of the types of conditions and restrictions that will most likely be imposed upon your release.

  • Parolees are not to have in their possession, any firearms or other dangerous instrumentalities.
  • They must report periodically to an agent (parole officer) assigned to them by the parole board.
  • The parole officer may visit the parolee’s home or place of employment as a follow-up to determine the parolee’s compliance with the conditions and restrictions.
  • Most parolees must initially reside in a halfway house or some other suitable residence authorized by the Prison Review Board, immediately upon their release.
  • A parolee cannot leave the state without first obtaining authorization from his parole officer.
  • Parolees are periodically “drug tested, and, therefore, should refrain from the use or possession of any controlled substance.
  • In order for a parolee to associate with a person who is also on parole, the parolee must have prior written permission from the Prison Review Board.

Violations and Revocation of Parole

If an inmate who has been released on parole fails to comply with the conditions and restrictions imposed on him by the Prison Review Board, he risks the possibility of his parole being revoked and his being sent back to prison.

Prior to 1970, a parole officer could use his own discretion in deciding what happened after a parole violation. However, that all changed as a result of the ruling in the Supreme Court’s 1972 case Morrissey v. Brewer. In Morrissey, the Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to allow a parole officer to be the determining factor in whether an individual’s parole was revoked, sending him back to jail, without a hearing. The Court ruled in this circumstance, that a parolee was entitled to “due process” of law.

Parolee Recidivism

Old habits die hard as can be seen in the rate of recidivism amongst parolees, released back into the system due to a violation of a condition or restriction of their parole, or in the commission of another crime after release.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics released a study entitled “Recidivism of State Prisoners Released in 2005,” that estimated the rate of recidivism was higher than most people thought. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 68% of the 405,000 prisoner samples, released were rearrested for new crimes within 3 years of release, and 77 percent were rearrested within 5 years. See also cbsnews.com

In April 2011, the Pew Center estimated that the national average rate of recidivism for released prisoners to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 43.3%.

Criminal Defense Attorney David Freidberg

If accused of a crime, it is important that you know what your rights are, and how to protect them. The need for an experienced criminal defense attorney begins with the charge and arrest. Knowing your rights is the first step in the process, and continues thereafter through a possible trial to acquittal or sentencing. So if you are being charged with any crime, including murder, sexual assault, or battery, and would like to discuss all of the potential defenses available to you, call the Law Offices of David Freidberg today, at (312) 560-7100, or send an email, for a no-obligation consultation.