Alpharetta resident, lawyer and consulting company owner, pastor and counselor
Vice-Chair L. Gale Buckner ,
of Douglasville, formerly Executive Director of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.
She started her public service career as a communications officer in the Chatsworth Police Department.
Hammonds, Atlanta resident, formerly DEA Special Agent
in charge of Southeast Region.
Eugene Walker, from DeKalb County, former Commissioner
of the Department of Juvenile Justice.
Milton E. Nix, Jr.,
Commerce, Georgia native and current Conyers resident, a former FBI
Supervisory Special Agent and most previously Director of the Georgia
Bureau of Investigation.
7. How often
does the Board meet?
Board membership in Georgia is a
full-time position so the Board is always in session. However, members do
not meet as a group to discuss cases. They review and vote on cases
8. Why don't
Board Members visit prisons to personally talk to inmates being considered
Due to Georgia's large inmate
population spread in institutions around the state, such a system would be
unworkable. Currently the Board reviews more than 15,000 cases annually.
9. When are
inmates considered for parole?
Unless an inmate is serving on a
life sentence, or for an offense that mandates no parole, the case is
prepared for consideration under the Parole Decision Guidelines and a
decision is usually made in eight to ten months after entering a state
10. Why are
inmates considered for parole in less than a year after being sentenced?
By law, the Board is required to
consider clemency for all inmates under its authority. At the time of
consideration, the Board may establish a Tentative Parole Month in the
future or may deny parole entirely. The Board may reconsider and change a
prior decision in a case, for any reason, at any time, up to the time of
release. Georgia inmates have a right to be considered for parole, but
they do not have a right or "liberty interest" which requires
release on parole.
inmates considered for parole more than once?
Inmates serving non-life
sentences who are denied parole are not routinely reconsidered for parole.
However, if substantive new information is received by the Board, the case
may be reconsidered at the Board's discretion. Inmates who are serving
life sentences who are denied parole must, by law, be reconsidered for
parole at regular intervals not to exceed eight years.
12. What are
Parole Decision Guidelines?
It is a carefully researched
method of standardizing offenders' confinement times based on crime
severity and parole risk. The Guidelines process is used to assist the
Board in making consistent, soundly based, and understandable parole
decisions on inmates serving non-life sentences. Implemented in 1979,
revised several times since, Guidelines help the Board decide on a
Tentative Parole Month (TPM) for the inmate or that he will complete his
sentence without parole.
13. How is a
decision reached by Board Members?
When an inmate is considered for
parole, the case file is given to one of the five Board Members, who
studies it, deliberates alone, and renders his or her independent
On non-life cases, Board Members
determine whether the Guidelines recommendation for parole denial or for a
tentative release month is appropriate in each case or whether mitigating
or aggravating factors should override the recommendation.
This process continues until the
majority decision has been reached on whether or not to parole the
individual, and if so, when.
14. Are Parole
Decision Guidelines used to determine parole for lifers?
The Parole Decision Guidelines
are used for non-life cases only. In life cases, primary emphasis during
consideration is given to the nature and severity of the crime.
15. What sort
of information is contained in the inmate file reviewed by the Board?
The file contains a personal
interview with the inmate, diagnostic prison data, social background
information, and legal circumstances of the offense(s), possibly
interviews with prosecutors or arresting officers or victims. Criminal
history is included in the file, obtained from juvenile records, the GBI
and FBI. Letters from the community are read and pertinent information is
extracted and placed in the file along with court official comments.
The Victim Impact Statement is a
permanent part of the file, as is any correspondence by or on behalf of
the victim. Prison reports of conduct, attitude or performance incentive
credits are included, and lastly, the parole guidelines recommendation
which has been based on factors extracted from all the information
16. Are all
inmates considered for parole?
Offenders serving a non-life
sentence for one or more of the "serious violent felonies"
committed on or after January 1, 1995, are not eligible for parole and
must serve 100% of the prison term imposed by the Judge. The "serious
violent felonies" are murder, rape, aggravated child molestation,
aggravated sodomy, aggravated sexual battery, armed robbery, and
By law, all other inmates in
state custody are considered for parole at least once during their prison
term, unless they are sentenced as a recidivist, to life without parole,
or are under a death sentence. Georgia is the only state in the U.S. in
which inmates serve 100% of their sentence for certain crimes, or if they
are denied parole. There is no good time, gained time, or earned
time applied to prison sentences in Georgia.
17. When is
electronic monitoring used?
Beginning in January 1996 the
Board began requiring electronic monitoring for all serious offenders
released on parole. These offenders will have restricted movement from
their homes for the first three or four months of their release and any
violation may result in an immediate return to prison. Other parolees may
be placed on electronic monitoring at any time during their supervision.
18. Why are
inmates released by the Board, rather than serving their entire sentences?
In Georgia, the Judge sets the
maximum term of confinement, and the Parole Board determines the minimum
time to serve. The Board was created for the purpose of providing a
non-judicial review of inmate cases, to minimize sentencing disparities,
to consider rehabilitative efforts by the inmate, and to select those
inmates, after careful review, most likely to succeed on parole.
In Georgia, as in other states,
limited resources, increased incarceration rates, and lengthy sentences,
has meant limited prison bed space. No system can accommodate the steady
influx of full-term sentences. Without paroles from prison, overcrowding
would result in Federal court intervention with mass releases and no state
control over when or which inmates are released. Other systematic
approaches, such as sentencing guidelines or structured sentencing, when
implemented in other states, have resulted in a number of undesirable
results such as inmates serving less time in prison, shorter sentences,
fewer convicted felons actually going to prison, gained time or earned
time further reducing the sentence, limited judicial discretion, increased
appeals, and a reduction or elimination of important supervision upon
19. How much
voice does the victim have in the parole process?
The impact of a crime on a
victim, and the victim's concerns for safety are major considerations in
each parole decision. In addition to parole denial, the Board has other
restrictive options that take the victim into account, such as adding
special parole conditions which ban the parolee from certain areas or
require him to pay restitution to the victim. In 1991 the Board
established its Victim Services Office so that victims and agencies
representing victims would have a faster and more personal response to
their needs. The Board continually strives for ways to attend to victims
during this last phase of the criminal justice process. See also Parole's
Office of Victim
Services. However, while
looking at each case individually, Board members also study the case from
a relative standpoint, comparing each case to others which share similar
components. The Board is entrusted to make an objective decision rising
above political, and personal consideration.
victims notified of a parole?
Yes, if they have submitted a Victim
Impact Statement or if they write and ask to be notified. See
21. What are
the benefits of parole?
Prison punishes the offender but
does not teach him or her how to deal successfully with society. Most
inmates eventually return to society, and usually with fewer employment
and social skills than when they entered.
The first six months after an
inmate's release from prison is the most vulnerable period. While
experiencing the low self-esteem and disorientation typical after prison,
he is often subjected to peer pressure to return to his former lifestyle.
Offenders with substance abuse problems are particularly susceptible. The
fear of returning to prison is not always strong enough to overcome the
immediate pressures an offender may feel. A combination of monitored
supervision and practical assistance in obtaining jobs, counseling, and
support, can place the offender in a supportive, rather than destructive,
context, and pave the way for his new, law-abiding life.
22. How are
Parole officers, all of whom are
four-year college graduates with extensive training, work to ensure the
parolee re-enters society with all the community monitoring, support and
guidance available to prevent the offender from returning to crime.
Parolees are assigned a case plan based on the severity of their offense,
their particular needs, such as literacy training, and the length of time
they will have on parole. Each case is individually planned within an
established structure of agency requirements such as frequent visits,
reports, and other conditions to safeguard the community.
Parole officers regularly visit
the parolee, his family, and his employer, to determine the parolee's
compliance with conditions. Although every effort is made to help the
parolee overcome addictions, learn new skills, and adjust to society's
demands, the parole officer's primary responsibility is the community's
safety. Georgia parole officers are POST certified peace officers who are
authorized to arrest parole violators. See also Parole
23. What is
the cost of parole?
The cost of parole is $2.91 per
day per parolee.
24. How much
control does parole supervision provide?
There are degrees of supervision
in the community just as there are in prison. Studies have shown that
certain low-risk non-violent offenders actually perform better with
moderate, rather than maximum, supervision. Others require much more
structure and control. At the highest end of supervision is maximum
supervision with electronic monitoring which is used in two ways: punitively,
for parolees who are not complying fully with technical conditions of
their parole and who need 24-hour monitoring to see if revocation is in
order; and preventively, for offenders straight out of prison who
could benefit by a more gradual transition into the community.
25. What is
parole's success rate?
Each year roughly 12 percent of
Georgia's 25,000 parolee population are returned to prison. Of these less
than 10 percent are sent back for committing a new crime; most return for
failing to abide by the technical terms of their conditional release.
26. How does
Georgia's Parole Board rank nationally?
The Board has been in existence
for more than half a century, and has evolved to a professional status
envied by many other states and countries. The Board's Field Division has
been accredited by the American Correctional Association, one of few field
supervision divisions so honored nationally.
Because the Board was established
by constitutional amendment more than half a century ago, it has built a
strong foundation of procedure and research. Many states have had their
paroling authorities recreated so many times that the lessons of history
and continuity have been lost. Many look to the Georgia Parole Board as a
model of soundness, professionalism, and responsiveness to the
ever-changing demands of criminal justice.
For further information contact
the Office of Public Information at 404-651-5897 or the Victims Services
Office at 1-800-593-9474.
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