Parole is the conditional release of prisoners before they complete their full sentence. It acts as a form of supervision for convicted individuals who have already served a portion of their prison term. Once granted parole, prisoners are allowed to complete the remainder of their sentence within the community, subject to specific conditions and the oversight of a parole officer. These conditions typically include regular check-ins, employment obligations, adherence to curfews, travel restrictions, and participation in rehabilitation programs.

The main aim of parole is to support the successful reintegration of prisoners into society while ensuring public safety. It allows individuals to exhibit their commitment to lawful and responsible living while receiving the necessary support and guidance for a seamless transition back to the community.

Throughout the parole process, attorneys play a crucial role. They provide invaluable assistance to those seeking parole. They offer legal advice, representation, and aid in navigating the parole application procedure. If you require such assistance, consider contacting the California Criminal Lawyer Group. Our Long Beach team is available to offer support.

Differentiating Parole and Probation

Although both parole and probation entail the release of individuals under specific circumstances, significant disparities exist between the two.

Parole is granted to individuals who have served a portion of their prison term. In contrast, probation is an alternative to imprisonment, often as a sentence in lieu of jail time. Simply put, parole constitutes a conditional release from prison, while probation allows individuals to fulfill their punishment within the community.

An additional contrast lies in the granting process: parole is typically authorized by a parole board or a comparable entity, following a thorough evaluation of the inmate's case, conduct, and potential for rehabilitation. Conversely, probation is usually imposed by a judge as part of the sentencing procedure.

Moreover, parole primarily targets individuals who have undergone incarceration, whereas probation can be granted for various offenses, including non-violent crimes or first-time transgressions. Probation typically involves supervision by a probation officer and adherence to specific requirements, including periodic check-ins, substance testing, engagement in community service, or enrollment in treatment programs, contingent upon the individual's circumstances and the nature of their offense.

Note: Parole is not an automatic process and hinges upon a meticulous assessment of various factors specific to each case. It is not a guaranteed outcome for all prisoners who have served a particular portion of their sentence. Instead, the decision to grant parole rests with a parole board or a comparable governing body that meticulously evaluates elements, for example, the inmate's conduct, progress, the potential for rehabilitation, and the broader implications for public safety.

Before deciding, the parole board undertakes a comprehensive review of the case, considering the specific circumstances and guidelines in effect.

In situations involving life sentences that allow for the possibility of parole, parole remains an option, but it does not assure automatic release. Individuals serving life imprisonment could become eligible for parole after fulfilling a specified minimum term or meeting other specific eligibility criteria. However, even in these cases, the parole decision undergoes a rigorous evaluation.

For life sentences that offer the possibility of parole, parole boards or similar governing bodies meticulously scrutinize each case, considering factors like the nature of the offense, the inmate's behavior and progress while incarcerated, their potential for rehabilitation, and the impact on public safety. The parole board assesses whether the individual has demonstrated substantial rehabilitation, remorse, and a diminished likelihood of reoffending.

Eligibility of Parole

Numerous elements come into play when evaluating parole eligibility for incarcerated individuals, and the specific considerations could differ based on the unique circumstances of each case. However, here are some commonly reviewed criteria:

     a) Determinate Sentences

Determinate sentences have a pre-established duration mandated by the law. Determinate sentences involve a fixed term determined by the court during sentencing.

In the case of determinate sentencing, individuals convicted of particular offenses are assigned a precise number of years or months of imprisonment. This predetermined duration aims to bring clarity and uniformity to the criminal justice system, ensuring that offenders serve a clearly defined period of incarceration for their crimes.

Parole functions as a means to grant individuals an opportunity for early release from incarceration, even if they have not served their entire determinate sentence. It serves as a mechanism for supervised release, allowing individuals to reintegrate into society under specific criteria and conditions.

     b) Indeterminate Sentences

Indeterminate sentences differ from determinate sentences in that they do not have a predetermined length of incarceration set by the court. Instead, they involve a range of possible release dates determined by parole boards or similar authorities based on the individual's progress, behavior, and rehabilitation efforts during their prison sentences.

Under indeterminate sentencing, individuals are given a minimum term that they must serve before becoming eligible for parole consideration. The release date is determined through a parole hearing process, where factors like the inmate's behavior, risk assessment, participation in rehabilitative programs, and plans for post-release supervision are carefully evaluated.

     c) Work Time or Good Time Credit

Good time or work time credit allows individuals in custody to earn credits towards a reduction in their sentence for good behavior or participation in work or educational programs while incarcerated. These credits can be applied to shorten the overall length of their sentence.

Under Penal Code 2933, eligible inmates can earn credits for good behavior, participation in work assignments, educational programs, vocational training, or other approved activities. These credits are intended to incentivize positive behavior and engagement in rehabilitative efforts.

The amount of credit an individual can earn varies based on the specific program or activity and is determined by statutory guidelines and regulations. These guidelines outline the criteria for earning credits, the maximum amount of credits that can be earned, and any limitations or exclusions that apply.

Proposition 57, the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016, is a California ballot measure related to parole. It was approved by voters in November 2016 and made several changes to the state's criminal justice system, including modifying parole eligibility and expanding opportunities for parole consideration.

Proposition 57 aimed to reduce prison overcrowding, prioritize rehabilitation, and enhance public safety. It made the following key changes related to parole:

  • Parole consideration — Proposition 57 expanded parole eligibility for individuals convicted of non-violent felonies. It allowed them to be considered for parole after serving the full term of their primary offense rather than being required to do additional time for enhancements or consecutive sentences related to other crimes.
  • Rehabilitation credits — Proposition 57 authorized the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to establish credit-earning programs to incentivize participation in rehabilitative activities, for example, education and vocational programs. These credits can be applied toward earlier parole consideration.

It is worth noting that two categories of inmates are ineligible for good time credit, namely:

  • Inmates serving sentences for murder — Under PC 2933.2, inmates convicted of murder under Penal Code Section 187 are generally ineligible to earn good time credits. This means they cannot earn credits for good behavior, participation in work assignments, educational programs, vocational training, or other approved activities while incarcerated.
  • Inmates with two or more prior felony convictions — Individuals convicted of certain serious or violent felonies and have two or more prior felony convictions could be subject to the "Three Strikes" law. Under the Three Strikes law, these individuals can face enhanced sentencing, including longer prison terms and limited opportunities for parole.

Various Categories of Parole Supervision

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) employs a structured classification system to determine the appropriate level of parole supervision. This system considers various factors, including the parolee's individual risk assessment, compliance with parole conditions, and the paramount concern for community safety. Through this approach, the CDCR aims to customize the level of supervision to address each parolee's specific needs while upholding public safety standards.

The levels include the following:

     a) Intensive Re-entry

Intensive re-entry parole supervision is a specialized form of parole oversight designed to provide enhanced support and monitoring to individuals transitioning back into the community after incarceration. Its primary objective is to address the unique obstacles and potential risks parolees face, aiming to minimize repeat offenses and facilitate successful reintegration.

Parolees under this supervision undergo more frequent check-ins, participate in mandatory rehabilitative programs, and experience closer scrutiny of their activities. This intensive level of support and monitoring aims to empower individuals to overcome the challenges associated with reentry, ultimately reducing their likelihood of engaging in further criminal behavior.

     b) Regular Re-entry

Regular re-entry parole is a standard level of parole supervision provided to individuals transitioning from incarceration to the community. Like intensive re-entry, parolees should expect supervision, including regular check-ins with parole officers, adherence to specific conditions and requirements, and monitoring the parolee's activities and progress.

Regular re-entry and intensive re-entry parole differ in the support, monitoring, and intervention provided to parolees during their transition into the community. Intensive re-entry parole offers greater support, monitoring, and intervention to parolees with more significant needs or who pose higher risks. Regular re-entry parole, while providing guidance and assistance, operates at a standard level of supervision suitable for most parolees.

     c) Specialized Caseloads

Specialized caseloads refer to a specific type of parole supervision where parole officers are assigned to work with a particular group of parolees who share common characteristics or needs.

Specialized caseloads often provide intense and concentrated services to "high-risk" parolees. The purpose of specialized caseloads is to address the unique needs and risks of specific groups of parolees.

High-risk parolees could have a history of serious offenses, demonstrate a higher likelihood of reoffending, or have specific risk factors that require targeted intervention. Examples of specialized caseloads include:

  • Mental health caseloads — Parole officers are assigned to work with parolees with mental health disorders. They receive specialized training to address the specific challenges associated with mental health and may collaborate closely with mental health professionals to ensure appropriate support and treatment.
  • Substance abuse caseloads — Parole officers are assigned to supervise parolees struggling with substance abuse issues. They focus on monitoring and assisting parolees in accessing substance abuse treatment programs, attending counseling sessions, and maintaining sobriety.
  • Gang caseloads — Parole officers supervise parolees with gang affiliations or histories. They receive specialized training to address gang-related issues, like violence prevention, gang intervention, and connecting parolees with community resources targeting gang disengagement.
  • Sex offender caseloads — Parole officers assigned to work with parolees convicted of sex offenses. They receive specialized training in sex offender management and closely monitor parolees to ensure compliance with sex offender registration requirements and treatment programs.
  • Young adult caseloads — Parole officers under this program supervise parolees who are young adults (typically ages 18 to 25). They address young adult parolees' unique needs and challenges, including education, employment, and pro-social skill development.

     d) Case Management Supervision

Case management supervision focuses on providing personalized support and guidance to parolees. Parole officers serve as case managers and closely collaborate with parolees to address their unique needs, challenges, and aspirations.

During case management supervision, parole officers conduct thorough assessments to identify the parolee's strengths, areas of risk, and areas where assistance is required. Using this assessment, they create an individualized case plan that outlines specific steps, programs, and resources tailored to support the successful reintegration of the parolee.

Regular meetings between the parole officer and parolee are vital to case management supervision. These meetings allow for progress reviews, discussion of any obstacles or difficulties, and adjustments to the case plan as needed. The parole officer also helps parolees access various services, including employment support, housing assistance, educational opportunities, substance abuse treatment, mental health care, and other community resources.

Case management occurs after a parolee demonstrates successful reintegration into the community. 

     e) Electronic Supervision

Electronic supervision, or electronic monitoring, employs technology to monitor and track the activities of parolees. This involves using electronic devices like ankle bracelets or GPS trackers, which the parolees wear.

These devices transmit real-time location data, allowing parole officers to monitor the parolees' whereabouts. It ensures compliance with geographical restrictions, for example, stay-away orders or exclusion zones. Electronic supervision can include features like curfew monitoring or alcohol/drug testing through wearable devices.

The primary objective of electronic supervision is to enhance public safety by providing an additional layer of oversight and accountability for parolees. It acts as a deterrent against potential violations and can provide evidence in cases of non-compliance. Moreover, electronic supervision supports the successful reintegration of parolees by enabling monitoring while they live in the community rather than being confined to a correctional facility.

Note: Electronic supervision does not replace other aspects of parole, like case management or rehabilitation programs. Instead, it complements other supervision methods to create a comprehensive approach to parole oversight.

Personal and Subsistent Care

Parolees need essential support and services to meet their basic needs and ensure their well-being during parole supervision.

Subsistence includes assistance in accessing resources for food, shelter, and clothing. Parolees receive guidance and referrals to community programs that offer food assistance, affordable housing options, and clothing resources. Parole officers also provide information on job placement services and vocational training programs to help parolees secure employment and achieve financial stability.

Personal care involves addressing parolees' healthcare needs and promoting their physical and mental well-being. Parole officers help parolees connect with healthcare providers, clinics, or counseling services for medical treatment, mental health support, substance abuse treatment, or other specialized services. They also provide information on wellness programs, support groups, or community organizations that can assist with personal development and self-care.

By addressing subsistence and personal care needs, parole supervision aims to support parolees in maintaining stability, improving their quality of life, and reducing factors that could contribute to recidivism. It recognizes that meeting these basic needs and promoting personal well-being is crucial for successful reintegration into society.

Non-revocable Parole Programs (NRP)

Using non-revocable parole allows eligible individuals to reintegrate into society while reducing the risk of unnecessary incarceration for technical violations. This program recognizes that not all violations warrant a return to prison and seeks to promote successful reintegration and rehabilitation. By focusing on supportive services and interventions instead of automatic revocation, non-revocable parole aims to address the underlying issues contributing to criminal behavior and support positive change in parolees.

While non-revocable parole (NRP) provides a period of supervision without the risk of revocation and sentencing to prison for technical violations, it does not grant immunity from arrest or legal consequences for new criminal activities. If you commit a new offense while on NRP, you can still be arrested and face charges.

NRP primarily addresses technical violations of parole conditions and aims to provide alternative consequences rather than an immediate return to prison. However, it does not grant individuals complete immunity or protection from legal consequences for new criminal behavior.

Statutory Parole Requirements

Whereas the requirements vary depending on the facts of a case, there are requirements set in law that all parolees must comply with. Here is a look at the three primary conditions:

     a) Residential Placement

Penal Code Section 3003(a) addresses residential placement for individuals on parole. The provision states that once a prisoner completes their term of imprisonment, typically without any remaining obligations from the state or county, they are subject to parole supervision by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), depending on the relevant provisions of the law.

This section underscores the importance of parole supervision as a potential requirement for certain individuals who have finished their prison sentence, ensuring that they are appropriately monitored and supported during their transition back into the community.

     b) Search Requirement

Penal Code 3067 is a crucial provision that addresses search conditions for parolees. This section specifies that parolees, as a condition of their parole, can be subjected to search and seizure by parole officers or law enforcement without the need for a search warrant. This provision ensures parolees remain accountable and supervised while promoting public safety.

Through this provision, parole authorities can search a parolee's person, property, or residence to verify compliance with parole conditions and prevent further criminal activity. By being aware of this search requirement, parolees understand that their privacy could be intruded upon to maintain compliance with the terms of their parole. This provision grants parole officers and law enforcement the necessary power to perform searches deemed necessary to uncover evidence of parole violations, for example, possessing illicit substances or weapons.

Note: The search conditions outlined in PC 3067 exclusively apply to individuals on parole and do not extend to the general population. Additionally, the frequency and scope of these searches vary based on the parolee's level of risk, specific parole conditions, and the professional judgment of the supervising parole officer.

     c) Sex Offender Registration

Penal Code Section 290 requires sex offender registration for parolees. It is mandatory and requires parolees to update their information annually. Further, the statute requires parolees to inform the authorities once they change residential locations. Non-compliance leads to consequences. These consequences vary based on the circumstances and the parolee's jurisdiction, but they generally include:

  • Disciplinary actions — Parole authorities could incorporate stricter measures to address the failure to register. The officers could increase supervision, impose stricter conditions, or even revoke parole.
  • Criminal charges — Failure to register as a sex offender, as the law requires, will result in criminal charges. Parolees who knowingly and willfully fail to register can face additional charges and potential prosecution.
  • Legal penalties — Non-compliance with sex offender registration can lead to legal penalties, including fines, probation, or imprisonment. The severity of the penalties depends on the specific offense and the parolee's criminal history.
  • Public notification — Non-compliant parolees are subject to public notification or disclosure of their non-compliance. This can involve the publication of their information on sex offender registries or publicized notifications to the community.
  • Increased scrutiny — Parolees who fail to comply with sex offender registration face heightened scrutiny from law enforcement agencies, parole officers, and the community. This can result in closer monitoring, more frequent check-ins, and additional restrictions on their activities.

Find a Pasadena Parole Expert Near Me

If granted, parole eligibility, application, and compliance are fairly complex processes. A minor misstep could affect your eligibility or result in adverse consequences. However, with the right legal assistance, you can avoid these hurdles. Work with the California Criminal Lawyer Group today. Our attorneys will address all issues you have about parole in Long Beach. Further, we will represent you in the entire process. Contact us at 562-966-8120 for assistance.