CAPPS issue brief  |  January 2013

The parole process for lifers

People who are serving “parolable life” sentences become eligible for release after either 10 or 15 years, depending on the date of the offense.

  • The parole board must conduct a public hearing at which the prisoner is examined extensively and both supporters and opponents of release may testify.
  • The board must notify the sentencing judge or that judge’s successor in office, as well as the prosecutor, of its intent to hold a hearing. If the judge objects, in writing, within 30 days, the board loses its authority to grant release.

The problem

A successor to the sentencing judge, who has no prior knowledge of the case, can override the parole process for years by simply saying: “I object.”

  • The judge does not have to hold a hearing, consider any specified criteria or review any particular facts.
  • The judge does not have to state any reasons for objecting and the decision is not subject to any review.

Read>> Reasons to support HB 4189