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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 167400 Find in a Library
Title: Working of the Parole Board
Journal: Law Enforcement Quarterly  Dated:(August-October 1996)  Pages:19-20,41-42
Author(s): C Bentley
Date Published: 1996
Page Count: 4
Type: Program/Project Description
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article describes the composition and operation of the California Board of Prison Terms, which makes parole decisions.
Abstract: The Board of Prison Terms decides when, if ever, each of California's inmates who is serving an indeterminate or life sentence will leave prison. In addition, the board conducts parole revocation hearings and hearings that involve mentally disordered sex offenders and sexual predators. Other responsibilities include making recommendations to the governor on clemency in capital cases, compassionate release of terminally ill inmates, and granting pardons. Although not required by law, all but two of the nine active commissioners have a background in law enforcement. Lifer parole hearings are held before a panel of three commissioners or two commissioners and a board employee known as a deputy commissioner. The board is independent of the Department of Corrections, although it works closely with it. The board sets policies concerning parole and public safety, and it adopts regulations and sponsors legislation. An inmate is eligible for a parole hearing after having served two-thirds of the minimum sentence. Participants in the parole hearing include the three commissioners, the inmate, an attorney for the inmate, a deputy district attorney from the county of commitment, and the victim or the victim's next of kin. The hearings are not adversarial nor are they as formal as judicial proceedings. Following questioning, the deputy district attorney makes concluding remarks, as does the inmate's attorney, the inmate, and the victim or the victim's next of kin. The hearing is recessed while the commissioners deliberate, and everyone is called back to the hearing when a decision has been made. When a panel grants parole to an inmate, the decision comes under considerable scrutiny. Each parole decision is tentative until it is reviewed by the Board of Prison Terms' decision review unit, and it becomes effective some 90 days after the hearing. Grants of parole are carefully reviewed by the decision review unit and are sometimes overturned. Grants of parole are then reviewed by the governor. In 1995 only five parole dates survived the review process.
Main Term(s): Corrections policies
Index Term(s): California; Parole board; Parole board discretion; Parole eligibility; Parole hearing; Probation or parole decisionmaking
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