State of Georgia
Board of Pardons and Paroles
Parole Consideration and Eligibility
Parole Consideration is Automatic for Eligible Inmates
An eligible inmate serving a felony sentence in the custody of the Department of Corrections is automatically considered for parole. No application is necessary.
An inmate serving consecutive misdemeanor sentences in a county facility exceeding 12 months, is considered for parole if he or she requests parole consideration.
The Board considers an inmate for parole regardless of appeals or other legal action by the inmate or his representative.
The Board may decide not to consider paroling an offender serving a Georgia sentence in custody at an out-of-State or Federal prison or at a mental hospital when favorable action of the Board would not result in the offender's release from confinement.
Pre-Parole Investigations Start the Process
Before the Board considers an inmate for parole, it conducts investigations, detailed reports of which become a part of the Board's case file, which is separate from files maintained by the Department of Corrections.
First, a Parole Investigator studies arrest and court records and may talk with arresting officers, court officials, victims, and witnesses in order to write a Legal Investigation report on the details of the inmate's current offense and a summary of any prior offenses in the same county.
Next, a Parole Investigator interviews the inmate and completes a Personal History Statement questionnaire. The inmate is asked, among other things, where he has resided and worked; who his family members are and where they live; where he plans to live and work; and what his own account is of his crime.
Finally, a Parole Investigator conducts a Social Investigation, which includes interviews with persons mentioned in the Personal History Statement as well as others. The written report presents a revealing picture of the inmate's life from birth to current imprisonment and may also indicate the degree of his truthfulness.
Before the Board makes a final decision to parole an offender, the Board reviews a Parole Review Summary from the Department of Corrections. This discusses the offender's behavior, attitude, physical status, mental and emotional condition, participation in self-improvement activities, and work performance.
The Board may, at its discretion, request detailed psychological or psychiatric opinions.
Other documents in the case file usually include a Federal Bureau of Investigation or Georgia Crime Information Center record of arrests and convictions, Classification and Admission Summary (on the inmate's condition when he entered prison), Disciplinary Reports, relevant material from written correspondence, and summaries of information from central office visitors.
Parole Eligibility: When and Who
Offenders serving a life sentence are generally considered after serving 14 years (violent offenses committed after Jan. 1, 1995) or seven years (drug offenses). Most life-sentenced offenders convicted of violent offenses committed before 1995 were eligible for parole after seven years and have already received their initial parole consideration. Approximately 3,000 of these life-sentenced offenders are still in the prison system. More than a 1,000 of these offenders have already served 20 or more years on their life sentence. Exceptions to the above are as follows:
1) An offender can be sentenced to life without parole for murder if the crime involved aggravating circumstances sufficient to warrant a sentence of death. An offender can be sentenced to life without parole for a second conviction of a serious violent felony (murder, rape, aggravated sodomy, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sexual battery, armed robbery, or kidnapping).
2) An offender whose death sentence is commuted to life imprisonment by the Board must serve 25 years before becoming eligible for parole consideration.
3) An offender convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment and who has previously been imprisoned under a life sentence must serve 25 years before becoming eligible for parole consideration.
4) An offender who is serving consecutive life sentences, one of which is for murder, for offenses occurring in the same series of acts must serve consecutive ten-year periods for each such sentence, up to a maximum of 30 years, before becoming eligible for parole consideration.
Offenders serving non-life sentences, for which parole consideration is authorized by law, are considered for parole using the Parole Decision Guidelines. After investigations are complete, the Board applies the Parole Decision Guidelines to the particular circumstances of the offender's case and notifies the offender that he or she is denied parole or notifies him or her of a tentative parole month for some future time. Unless otherwise specified below, non-life inmates are eligible for parole after serving one-third of their prison sentence.
1) An offender will not become eligible for parole consideration who is serving a non-life sentence for a serious violent felony (rape, aggravated sodomy, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sexual battery, armed robbery, or kidnapping) committed on January 1, 1995, or later. Contrary to a common misconception, these offenders are not eligible for parole after serving 10 years on sentences greater than 10 years. An offender convicted for any of these offenses, and not sentenced to life, will serve the entire prison sentence without the possibility of parole.
2) An offender convicted of three prior felonies is ineligible for parole consideration on all future convictions for the entire term of the sentence, including probation revocations. The only exception to this law is a sentence for a capital felony.
Parole Decision Guidelines
In considering parole for offenders who will become statutorily eligible for parole consideration and who are serving less than a life sentence, the Board reviews a recommendation as to months to serve. This recommendation is obtained from the Parole Decision Guidelines system which accounts for the severity of the crime and the offender's likelihood of success on parole. The offender's likelihood of success on parole is measured by weighted factors concerning the offender's criminal and social history which the Board has found to have value predicting the probability of further criminal behavior and successful adjustment under parole supervision.
The application of the Parole Decision Guidelines to the circumstances of the offender's case begins with a Board Hearing Examiner identifying the offender's Crime Severity Level from a table of offenses ranked in seven levels for offenses committed prior to 2006 and eight levels for offenses committed on or after January 1, 2006. The higher the severity level of the offense, the more serious the Parole Board views the crime. The Parole Board added Level VIII to its crime severity index after its former 90% policy was declared "ineffective and without force or effect" by the courts. The offenses previously governed by the 90% policy have been assigned crime severity Level VIII, as have the most serious drug offenses.
The Hearing Examiner then calculates the offender's Parole Success Likelihood Score by adding weighted factors with proven predictive value from the offender's criminal and social history. A history of things such as a juvenile record, prior imprisonment, parole or probation failure, heroin or cocaine use or possession, and joblessness would increase the risk of paroling the offender and cause him or her to be recommended for longer confinement.
The Board then sends the inmate a notice advising of its decision and emphasizing that any Tentative Parole Month (TPM) is conditioned on good conduct in prison and sometimes also on successful completion of a drug, alcohol, sex-offender counseling program, or other pre- condition(s). Reports from the Department of Corrections of misconduct by the offender usually results in parole postponement or cancellation.
The Board reserves the right to withdraw the grant of parole prior to the effective date if, in its discretion, it believes it to be in the public interest to do so.
Parole Decisions for Lifers
The Parole Decision Guidelines grid is not used in life sentence cases. An offender serving a life sentence, for which parole is authorized by law, is automatically considered for parole on the date permitted by applicable constitutional or statutory law.
It is the policy of the Board that all life-sentenced offenders denied parole may be set for reconsideration up to a maximum of eight years from the date of last denial when, in the Board's determination, it is not reasonable to expect that parole would be granted during the intervening years. Offenders set-off under this policy may receive expedited parole reviews in the event of a change in their circumstance or where the Board receives new information that would warrant a sooner review.
Parole Candidates Should Arrange Residence and Employment Plans
It is necessary that an inmate have an acceptable residence plan before his release on parole although not necessarily before the Board renders its decision. Residence plans will not be verified until and unless the Board has tentatively decided to grant parole. In addition, if at all possible, the inmate should have an acceptable employment offer.
Georgia Inmates May Apply for Out-of-State Parole
An offender who wants to be paroled to another state should notify the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles of his specific residence and employment plans, giving complete addresses. He may do this by informing the Parole Investigator who interviews him for the Personal History Statement before his initial consideration or by writing directly to the Board's Interstate Compact Office.
An offender has legitimate reasons to request out-of-State parole if he or she has been a resident of the proposed receiving state, if his or her family lives there, and if suitable employment can be arranged before his or her release. The proposed receiving state investigates the offender's parole plans and decides whether to accept him or her for supervision. The Georgia Board must also approve the offender's parole plans, but only the Georgia Parole Board may grant parole.
Consideration of Inmate with Detainer
A detainer indicating that an offender is wanted to face charges or serve a sentence, may be filed with the Department of Corrections by local authorities, another state, federal authorities, or the military. A detainer does not prevent an offender from being considered by the Parole Board. The Board may parole "to the detainer," known as a "Conditional Transfer," and thereby transfer custody of the offender to the requesting authority. If that authority releases the offender before the end of the Georgia sentence, he or she becomes a parolee under the supervision of the Board.
Because detainers against Georgia offenders are filed with the Department of Corrections, all inquiries about them should be directed to that Department or to the requesting authority.
© State Board of Pardons and Paroles — Office of Public Information