«Parole Hearing Handbook Information for Victims and their Families From the Division of Victim Services Tennessee Board of Parole Our mission is to ...»
“Safe Communities, Fewer Victims, Successful Reentry”
Information for Victims and their Families
From the Division of Victim Services
Tennessee Board of Parole
Our mission is to minimize public risk
and maximize lawful behavior
by the prudent, orderly release of
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Parole Board’s Requirements
Parole Hearing Process
Notification of Parole Hearings
Attending a Parole Hearing
In Person, Through Videoconference
In Person, at the Institution
General Prison Procedures
General Prison Rules
Inside the Prison Compound
Speaking at Parole Hearings
What are my options if I’m unable to attend the Parole Hearing?
Can I receive a recording of the Parole Hearing?
Victim Impact Statement (VIS)
Letter of Opposition (LOP)
Preparing Letters of Opposition
Preparing Victim Impact Statements
Record an Audio VIS
Record a Video VIS
After the Parole Hearing is Over
When will I know the final decision of the Parole Hearing?
District Victim Services’ Contacts
3 Parole Heari
Parole Board’s Requirements By statute, the Tennessee Board of Parole has the authority to parole offenders who have been certified as eligible for parole consideration by the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC). The Board also has the authority to revoke parole privileges if offenders do not comply with supervision rules and standards set forth for them upon their release.
Additionally, the Board considers requests for executive clemency and makes non-binding recommendations on those requests to the Governor. The Board of Parole is committed to a partnership with the citizens of Tennessee in promoting public safety. The Board does not determine who is eligible for parole, nor does it calculate sentence expiration dates. These are functions of the TDOC, which also records statutory good time and other sentence reduction credits earned by inmates. Inquiries regarding credits earned, parole eligibility and expiration of prison and parole terms shall be directed to the TDOC Sentence Management office, which is responsible for maintaining accurate timekeeping records.
Parole Hearing Process Parole Hearings are conducted by hearing official(s) for the Board of Parole who review facts of the offense and other relevant information, listen to information provided by the offender and others supporting or opposing release from prison. If parole is declined, subsequent parole hearings may be scheduled within guidelines set at the discretion of the board and/or special program conditions may be imposed. Parole hearings are generally held at the institution where the offender is housed.
4 Parole Hearing Handbook Information for Victims and their Families At the parole hearing, the offender is given an opportunity to recount what led up to his or her incarceration. Parole officials ask questions to get more information or to clarify information shared. Visitors (support/opposition) who attend are given an opportunity to voice their opinions as to whether the offender should or should not be released on parole supervision. The number of Board Members who review a case is dependent upon the offender’s convictions. Final decisions are usually not made on the day of the parole hearing. Board members strive to have each decision finalized as soon as possible.
Notification of Parole Hearings By law, written notice of a parole hearing is mailed 30 days prior to the scheduled date to any person registered to receive notification of hearings through the Tennessee Board of Parole or the Department of
Correction. The letter includes:
The offender name and prison (TOMIS ID) number The hearing location, date and time The name and contact information for the Institutional Probation/Parole Officer (IPPO) The Board of Parole’s Victim Services’ Division contact information
Attending a Parole Hearing All parole hearings are open to the public. Those persons who are registered with the Board of Parole to receive notifications of hearings will be sent a notification at least thirty (30) days prior to the hearing date. Once received, those who want to attend the hearing can make arrangements through the Board’s Victim Services Division (VSD) or through the assigned Institutional Probation/Parole Officer (IPPO).
Those who plan to attend or speak at the hearing should inform the VSD or IPPO. Arrangements will be made for those individuals to attend either via video conferencing in a field office or at the institution.
You will need to be at the assigned location 30 minutes prior to hearing start time.
In Person, Through Videoconference: Videoconferencing gives you the opportunity to attend the hearing without actually being at the prison, or being in the same room with the offender. The videoconference locations are in Nashville (BOP’s Central Office), and TDOC offices in Memphis, Jackson, Chattanooga, Cookeville, Knoxville and Johnson City. Utilizing videoconferencing may also allow you to travel a lesser distance to attend a hearing. Currently, video conferencing is not available in county jails; only at TDOC or CCA prisons. To learn more and to find out whether this option is available at the hearing
concerning your case, contact the BOP Videoconference Coordinator at:
615.532.8112 or toll free 866.795.7467.
In Person, at the Institution: If you plan to attend and/or speak at the parole hearing, it is important that you let the Institutional Probation/ Parole Officer (IPPO) know that you will be there. The IPPO needs to
The name(s) of each person who will attend.
Whether each person is in opposition or support of the inmate being released.
You may also receive information regarding preparation and accommodations through the IPPO. It is very important to ask these questions in advance, so the IPPO has adequate time to assist you.
General Prison Procedures If you decide to attend the hearing at an institution, park in the visitor/ employee lot. Upon arrival, go to the Administration Building, unless you have been directed to another location by the IPPO. You will be accompanied to a security checkpoint before entering the prison.
Checkpoints are operated by TDOC officers who are responsible for determining whether an individual will be admitted into the prison.
Officers will ask whether you are attending in support or opposition of 7 Parole Hearing Handbook Information for Victims and their Families the inmate’s parole. Passing through the checkpoint is similar to airport
You will have to walk through a metal detector You may be subject to a personal search You will be hand-stamped to show at other checkpoints that you passed through security All persons attending hearings are subject to any searches, approvals or restrictions the facility imposes.
Persons who are disruptive or a threat to the safety of any other person may be excluded from the hearing.
If there are any questions about whether someone will be allowed into a prison, it will be at the warden’s discretion.
General Prison Rules The Board defers to the institution’s security and space constraints at all hearings. General rules affecting visitor admittance into Tennessee
Bring in only one key Current photo ID Notes to speak from (optional) All minor children under sixteen (16) years of age shall have a parent or legal guardian’s continuous supervision while attending a
hearing. A person who is an inmate (in custody, confinement) of a facility cannot meet this requirement as a parent or legal guardian.
Minor children under 16 will be excused from a hearing if, in the hearing official’s opinion, they are disruptive.
Do not bring on the prison grounds:
Knives, scissors or other possible weapons Any alcoholic beverages or drugs
Leave (at home or in your vehicle):
Your purse or wallet Gum, medicine, bottled water, soft drinks, food and related items Cell phones Pagers Cameras Wear modest clothing (business casual attire) No open-toed shoes or sandals No sleeveless tops, midriffs, halter or tank tops or sundresses Do wear undergarments
Inside the Prison Compound When you attend a parole hearing inside an institution, you can expect to see other inmates. Prison personnel will accompany you to a waiting area near the room where hearings will be held. The waiting area is in a separate room away from other visitors, and only other victims and victim families will be in the room with you. If you have any needs while you wait, please alert the prison personnel who accompanied you.
Speaking at Parole Hearing When it is time to hear the case, you will be accompanied into the parole hearing room. Supporters may already be seated. You will be seated in a different section. The inmate may already be seated, or will be escorted into the room and seated in a chair a few feet away from you, facing the parole hearing official. Correctional staff will be in the hearing room at all times. Parole hearings are public hearings.
Attendees may include the media, attorneys, persons in support, opposition, and public observers.
The parole official at the hearing may be a Board Member or Hearings Officer. The parole hearing official will make opening comments. A
parole hearing will consist of:
The inmate will tell his or her side of the story, sometimes in graphic detail, and it may be different than what you heard in court.
Remember, parole officials have reviewed the case file and facts, and rely on the conviction(s) and documents in the file. Please, DO NOT address the inmate directly or with outbursts.
Additional information that the inmate wants the parole official to consider may include his or her social history, programs or classes attended, work history and documented good behavior. Persons in support who speak are often family members. Sometimes prison employees, community volunteers or employers who have worked with the inmate may speak in favor of his or her release on parole.
Up to four (4) persons per party (opposition/support) will be allowed to speak during the hearing for three (3) to five (5) minutes each.
Those supporting the offender’s parole will speak first, followed by those in opposition.
When the parole hearing official asks you to speak, you may read from your Victim Impact Statement, or speak generally about the continued impact of the crime on your life. Again, please DO NOT directly address the inmate with your comments. Any questions or clarification sought should be addressed to the parole hearing official.
The inmate will then be given the opportunity to make brief final comments. These comments may include why he or she believes parole is appropriate in this case, or statements of regret or sorrow for the crime committed.
If the case is heard by a Hearings Officer, his or her recommendation is non-binding. Board Members review each case file, including the recommendations of hearing officers, before casting their votes.
What are my options if I am unable to attend a Parole Hearing?
If you are unable to attend a hearing, you may submit a victim impact statement/letter of opposition or submit a video/audio recording.
Impact statements, correspondence or recordings should be received at
the Board’s address at least twenty (20) days before the hearing, if possible, to assure their availability at the hearing. The Board makes every attempt to process all documentation in advance of the Hearing.
However, please be aware that letters of opposition and victim impact statements that are not received by the twenty (20) day requirement above, may not be available for review or consideration by Hearings Officials.
Can I receive a recording of the Parole Hearing?
Yes, all hearings are audio recorded and can be requested after the decision has finalized. There is a $10 fee (cashier’s check/money order) payable to The State of TN/BOP and mailed to BOP for each recording. All requests must include the offender’s name, TOMIS #, and date of hearing.
Victim Impact Statement (VIS)/Letter of Opposition (LOP) A VIS/LOP is a written statement that describes the continued impact of the crime. It can be sent directly to BOP’s VSD. The address and fax number are included in this brochure. The VIS/LOP is kept in the inmate’s permanent file at BOP for review by parole officials prior to making parole recommendations. The statement is considered confidential. All statements and letters must include the offender’s
name, TOMIS #, have a signature affixed and include a date when signed.
Preparing Letters of Opposition /Victim Impact Statements Impact statements are a way to effectively present the victim’s opinion
when they contain the following information:
A brief statement of how the crime impacted you at the time it was committed.
A brief description about the continuing impact of the crime on your life today.
You may want to consider addressing the following impacts as they apply: physical, financial, emotional, social or spiritual.
In general, follow these guidelines for preparing effective victim impact
Plan to read your statement. Parole hearings can be emotional times. Those who try to speak “off the cuff” may be disappointed because they forgot to make an important point.
Keep oral statements to three (3) to five (5) minutes.