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Finn (n.d.) defines parole as the conditional and discretionary release of a particular individual (offender) from prison on the basis of a decision made by a relevant Board of Pardons and Paroles. It is at this stage that the offender can join the community but under supervision. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles carries out its functions according to the Texas constitution (Article IV, Section 11). The board has the powers to establish the prisoners that are supposed to be subjected to discretionary mandatory supervision or released on parole. The board also ensures that conditions of parole and mandatory supervision are put up and adhered to. Furthermore, the board is in a position to determine the revocation of the same in addition to furnishing the governor with resolution recommendation relating to matters of clemency.
The Organization Chart
According to Board of Pardons and Paroles, State of Texas (2007), the organization chart will be described in a descending order, starting with the governor of the state at peak. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles is headed by the Presiding Officer, who is charged with the duty of managing a six members’ board. The board reports to the governor, who is the first official on the organization chart. The next stage is occupied by twelve parole commissioners followed by the budget director and manager of special projects. The Board Administrator falls on the right hand side of the chart, while the left hand side is occupied by the General Counsel. The Board Administrator is in charge of the Director of Board Operations, Director of Hearing Operations, Director of Institutional Operations and Specialized support. The Director of Board Operations is in charge of Board Specialized Support, General Support, and the System Support Centre. The Director of Hearing Operations is in charge of Regional Operations in Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. The Director of Institutional Operations is in charge of Northern IPO Region in Palestine, Central IPO Region in Huntsville, Western IPO Region in Gatesville, and Southern IPO Region in Angleton. Finally, the General Counsel is in charge of two Assistant General Counsels, the Clemency Section, and a Technical Writer.
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Offenders under parole are still considered to be under a sentence. The prisoner is expected to abide by the law, refrain from specified acts, such as drinking, being employed, and most importantly maintaining regular contact with the parole officer as directed.
Eligibility of mandatory supervision does not apply to all offenders. It is in other words termed as a “legislative mandated release” (Maine Law Firm, 2012). The condition for the release of offenders is when the sentence is summed up by a good conduct time and calendar time. In the event that an offender commits an offense that is under §508.149(a) of the Governments code then he or she is ineligible. It should be noted that the mandatory supervision process is independent of any decision making process as in the case of parole. It is entirely based on legal technicalities, on the basis of which the criminal justice system has no option but to release the offender. However, whether on parole or under mandatory supervision, one is under supervision for the remainder of the sentence.
Rules and Policies
The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles is dependent on rules of administration to articulate and explicate statutory provisions. Two public notices (proposal and adoption) are usually published before amending or taking up a new rule. The board has quite a number of policies and directives, all of which can be obtained from the official website.
The guidelines were meant to define a comprehensive criterion through which decisions relating to parole would be made. Acceptable research methods were used to develop the guidelines.
The guidelines are made up of the risk assessment instrument and the offense severity class. The risk assessment instrument consists of dynamic and static factors relating to the record of the offender. Static factors relate to a criminal record before current sentencing of the offender. “Static factors include, age at first admission to a juvenile or adult correctional facility, history of supervisory release revocations for felony offenses, prior incarcerations, employment history and the commitment offense” (Board of Pardons and Paroles, State of Texas, 2007). The dynamic factors consist of prisoner’s present age, whether he or she belongs to a gang, level of education, participation in job training programs, and level achieved, his or her conduct in the prison, and present level of custody. Points are usually assigned to correspond to the above factors.
The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles assign the level of offense severity to every felony charges ranging from low to non-violent offenses. It follows that each and every offense will be matched by its corresponding class of severity.
The revocation process is characterized by a number of actions. These actions are usually ordered by the parole panel. Firstly, the panel may allow for continued supervision and avoid revocation whether the release conditions are modified or not. Secondly, the panel might decide not to revoke and instead release the prisoner because his or her date of release has passed. Thirdly, the panel can decide to shift to a Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Facility or better still, Intermediate Sanction Facility. Another action could be to inflict extra special conditions. Finally, the panel might decide to issue a revoke release or even reversing a revocation action that was passed previously.
Current (available) Statistics
Cases of parole have been discovered to increase with time as projected by statisticians. This is definitely due to quite a number of driving factors that have been significant in this fashion. It is evident how the population in juvenile correctional facilities has increased in Texas. This situation automatically increases the number of cases that are to be subjected to cases of parole and mandatory supervision programs. A closer look at the statistics released by the TDCJ (2012) clearly reveals the above raised sentiments (Texas Department of Criminal Justice, 2012).